Hedge fund manager donates $5m to National Gallery

Mr Danny Yong (third from left), with (from left) National Gallery Singapore director Eugene Tan, board member Jose Isidro Camacho, chairman Hsieh Fu Hua, CEO Chong Siak Ching and board member Kenson Kwok, in front of Forest Fire, a painting dedicate
Mr Danny Yong (third from left), with (from left) National Gallery Singapore director Eugene Tan, board member Jose Isidro Camacho, chairman Hsieh Fu Hua, CEO Chong Siak Ching and board member Kenson Kwok, in front of Forest Fire, a painting dedicated to the Yong Hon Kong Foundation in recognition of Mr Yong's donation.PHOTO: NATIONAL GALLERY SINGAPORE

The National Gallery Singapore has received a $5 million donation from hedge fund manager Danny Yong, its largest individual cash donation to date.

The gallery announced this yesterday, ahead of its opening on Nov 24. The amount will help to fund the art acquisitions for the national collection.

In recognition of Mr Yong's donation, a painting in the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery, Forest Fire by Indonesian artist Raden Saleh, has been dedicated to the Yong Hon Kong Foundation, named in honour of Mr Yong's late father, who died of cancer when he was 10.

 

Now 43, Mr Yong is the chief investment officer and founding partner of Singapore-based investment management company Dymon Asia Capital, which oversees US$4.4 billion (S$6.2 billion) worth of assets, according to a Straits Times report in January.

A philanthropist, he has set up scholarships and, in 2012, founded the non-profit Ray of Hope Initiative, which links parties who suffer sudden crises with donors.

In an e-mail interview, he said of his donation to the gallery: "I wanted to do my bit to give back to Singapore, and felt that the arts is as important a cause as education and the elderly, other areas of philanthropy that I identify with."

He said he is "not big into collecting art" but has enjoyed viewing art in a museum since he was a young boy. He added: "I'm constantly amazed at how artists can translate their imagination into visual form so magically. I think art is great for stimulating our creativity."

Last year, he had approached the gallery's chairman, Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, to see if he could contribute to the museum, which houses the world's largest public collection of South-east Asian art. The $5 million donation is Mr Yong's biggest contribution to the arts to date.

Mr Yong, who is divorced, has three children aged six, nine and 11.

He was educated at St Michael's School, St Joseph's Institution and Nanyang Business School, where he graduated with a business degree with first-class honours. He has worked at financial companies such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Citadel Investment Asia.

The gallery said it is "deeply grateful" for his donation.

Its director of business and corporate strategic development, Mr Kola Luu, said of Mr Yong: "The extent of his generosity also signals a significant shift in how more corporations and individuals are doing their part to grow a museum-going culture in Singapore by encouraging a new generation of art lovers."

The gallery, which has garnered a string of high-profile corporate sponsors such as DBS Bank, Singtel and Keppel Corp, also has more than 20 other individual donors besides Mr Yong.

It was unable to divulge the amount of their donations, but its website states that individuals may pledge amounts at different "gift levels" that range from $2,000 to $100,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2015, with the headline 'Hedge fund manager donates $5m to National Gallery'. Print Edition | Subscribe