Art Stage Singapore, the company behind what was once the main visual arts fair in the country, was placed under provisional liquidation on Jan 31, according to a press statement from the restructuring consultancy company appointed to wind it up.
This marks the end for Art Stage Singapore, considered the country's most influential art fair since 2011. This year's event was cancelled abruptly on Jan 16, eight days before its preview opening at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
A press statement issued by Acres Advisory yesterday announced the provisional liquidation and said that Mr Tee Wey Lih has been appointed the provisional liquidator.
He is arranging to recover the company's assets and records.
A creditors' meeting has been scheduled for Feb 28 and the notice of meeting will be issued to the creditors shortly, according to the statement.
In an e-mail to The Straits Times, Acres Advisory said the liquidation process was initiated by the directors of Art Stage Singapore, and estimated that it will take between 12 and 18 months to complete, assuming no complexities develop.
Asked if all the creditors would be getting their money back, a spokesman for Acres replied: "We are still evaluating the situation and in the midst of recovering the company's assets. We would be in a better position to advise the creditors on the recovery prospect in due course."
Art Stage Singapore's fair director is company president Lorenzo Rudolf, and his wife Maria Elena is vice-president.
The fair was backed by the National Arts Council, Economic Development Board and Singapore Tourism Board.
Mr Rudolf, a Swiss national, transformed Swiss art fair Art Basel from a quiet trade event into a glamorous, internationally esteemed art show in the 1990s. This led to him being invited by the Singapore authorities to set up a similar fair here.
Art Stage Singapore debuted in 2011 and notched million-dollar sales in its first few editions.
However, Mr Rudolf said that from 2017 on, poor local sales had led to most exhibitors from overseas refusing to take part more than once in the fair.
Last year, there were 84 exhibitors at the fair, compared with 131 in 2017 and 170 in 2016.
Only 45 exhibitors signed up for this January's Art Stage Singapore, and they were left scrambling to find alternative space when Mr Rudolf pulled the plug on it days before the opening.