Budi Tek, 65, Dies; His Fortune Built a Vast Trove of Asian Art

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Unlike many of those collectors, however, he always insisted that he had a civic obligation to display his art. After a few years showing his pieces in a Jakarta cafe, in 2007 he opened the Yuz Museum nearby, making admission free of charge.

Even that wasn’t enough. As his collection of works from China grew, he zeroed in on an emerging art district in Shanghai, along the Huangpo River, for an even larger venue. He settled on a portion of an old airfield, and in 2014 opened his second Yuz Museum. (He later closed the Jakarta location.)

At nearly 97,000 square feet, the Yuz is one of the largest art museums in China, with vast open rooms where he can show his mega-art — the main hall, built from a former hangar, offers 32,300 square feet of exhibition space. A work by Mr. Cattelan, a live olive tree growing out of a cube called “Untitled,” greets visitors at the entrance.

The Yuz was just one of hundreds of museums to open in China over the last decade, a corollary of sorts to the country’s rapid and some say unsustainable real estate boom. But unlike many of those institutions, which operate mostly as exhibition space for traveling shows (and these days are often empty), the Yuz is always full, being built on Mr. Tek’s immense personal collection. It has also leveraged his connections with other collectors and institutions around the world to mount frequent blockbuster exhibitions, including solo shows of work by Andy Warhol and Giacometti.

Mr. Tek aspired to see the Yuz become a Chinese analog to American museums like the Frick, the Guggenheim and the Getty, public-facing institutions built on the strength of a single person’s vast personal holdings, and which remain culturally relevant long after their founders’ deaths.

He announced a partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2018, which would create a joint-venture foundation to oversee the bulk of his collection while giving the Yuz access to that American museum’s extensive holdings.


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