Adrian Cheng, who is one of the world’s youngest billionaires, has only been collecting art for seven years. That hasn’t stopped him from placing art at the very center of the business he inherited from his family. Cheng believes firmly in two things: first, that art is for the masses, and, second, that the masses are likely, at one time or another, to go to the mall. In his K11 Art Malls, which he calls a “new museum model,” retail shopping on the main floors provides both the financial support and the audience for the art displayed in the basement. In 2015, he announced that he would build 17 malls with art exhibition spaces. His aim is not only to educate the public about art in general, but also, specifically, to raise the visibility of Chinese contemporary art. “I think the new contemporary Chinese art is reinventing Chinese cultural identity and building up a new Chinese culture,” Cheng told ARTnews. Cheng has recently started to branch out beyond his malls; in spring 2016, he joined the board of the New York–based Public Art Fund.
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