In a press release issued today, Art Basel’s parent company, MCH Group, announced its decision to cancel the 2020 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong “due to the outbreak and spread of the new coronavirus.” The fair, which was scheduled to open on March 19, has been the subject of increasing controversy over the last few weeks. Numerous international galleries asked the fair for significant concessions on the basis of political uncertainty in the region and, more recently, dealers have openly called for its cancellation due to concerns around the coronavirus.
“MCH has no option but to cancel the upcoming edition of Art Basel Hong Kong,” reads the statement. “Numerous factors informed this decision, including fundamental concern for the health and safety of all those working at and attending the fair; the severe logistical challenges facing the build-out and transit of artwork to the show; and the escalating difficulties complicating international travel, all arising as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus.”
MCH’s statement does not make any mention of ongoing protests in Hong Kong or the political conditions affecting the city, the initial reason a group of galleries signed a letter of concern to Art Basel three weeks ago.
“Our thoughts are with those affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak all around the world. We are acutely aware of the important role that the fair plays within the region’s cultural scene and for our galleries, both in Asia and around the globe,” said Marc Spiegler, Global Director of Art Basel. “Our team dedicated extensive time and effort to ensure our show in March would be a success over the course of the past year. Unfortunately, the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.”
According to the statement, the next edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong will take place from March 25-27, 2021.