BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Early Passions

Z Collection – Hong Kong, China

Z Collection, Hong Kong. © Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Z Collection, Hong Kong. © Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

William Zhao, the Hong Kong-based collector behind the Z Collection, was asked by The Artling magazine in 2014 what advice he had for collectors. Zhao responded “Open your mind to something that really touches you”. Zhao’s mind has been focused on art since his earliest days. As a child with a passionate connection to the visual culture, Zhao went on to study painting at university, and, after a brief diversion into the world of finance and investment, Zhao has returned to his first passion becoming one of Hong Kong’s most prominent collectors as well as cultivating a writing and curating practice in addition to working as an art advisor for other collectors. Zhao is perhaps best known for his involvement with an exhibition entitled “Framed: Ai Weiwei and Hong Kong Artists” which brought together the work of the iconic Chinese conceptualist and a number of artists from the territory including Ho Sin Tung, Tsang Kin Wah, Kum Chi-Keung, and the collective, Map Office. The premise of the exhibition was that Ai would produce a frame, and the other artists would create work to engage with the frame they received. Zhao’s omnivorous approach to the art has some parallels with Ai’s exhibition; as a curator and collector, Zhao has striven to provide a context in which art could be understood and circulated, a kind of frame for exploring questions and themes in contemporary art.

Z Collection, Hong Kong. © Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Z Collection, Hong Kong. © Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Speaking to Ocula magazine, Zhao noted that he began collecting at the first opportunity: “My first job was in investment banking” he noted, “with my first salary payment, I bought artwork. It was more than a hobby. It really was my passion.” That first paycheck found Zhao bringing home a small drawing on paper by Picasso, an auspicious start for any collection. Zhao went on to play a key role in the founding of Duddell’s, a restaurant and contemporary art space in Hong Kong that exhibits work by a range of artists. Zhao notes that the premise of Duddell’s is, in some ways similar to the premise of the Ai exhibition, creating a space in which artwork and creativity could be manifested rather than pursuing a purely commercial end. Duddell’s was to be, a means for “bring[ing] something interesting into the city” so that “people could access it and discover it.” Zhao’s role at Duddell’s is in large part, he notes, “to support young artists”.

Z Collection, Hong Kong. © Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Z Collection, Hong Kong. © Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Zhao’s own collection has expanded considerably since that early Picasso drawing. Since the beginning of the 2000s, the Z Collection has grown to more than 300 works. His approach is as heterodox and inclusive as his exhibitions, featuring works across genres and media. There are blue chip contemporary masters, notably by German heavyweights like Joseph Beuys and Georg Bazelitz, and works by the young Danish artist, Sergej Jensen, who is known for his unique adaptations of the minimalist discourse. The Z Collection also includes works by contemporary Chinese stars like Liang Yuanwei, Zeng Fanzhi, and the Shanghai-based Zhang Enli, noted for creating evocative works that centre on quotidian objects that often our escape attention and consideration. Among the most fascinating works in the collection are limestone Gandhara Buddhist figurines from the territory of contemporary Afghanistan. These pieces are understood to be approximately 1 500 years old and provide a view into the historical and geographical cross-currents that have shaped the Asian continent. The Z Collection represents a project permeated and animated by Zhang’s advice to aspiring collectors, to keep one’s heart as well as one’s mind open. From his early days making oil paintings to his present multifaceted artistic endeavors, Zhao’s youthful passion for art remains as ardent as it has ever been.

William Kherbek is the writer of the novels ULTRALIFE and Ecology of Secrets. Four collections of his poetry have been published, the latest of which are 26 Ideologies for Aspiring Ideologists (If a Leaf Falls Press) and Everyday Luxuries (Arcadia Missa).

All images courtesy Z Collection, Hong Kong

Collections (107)

West Collection

Key names in international art meet new voices

Rubell Museum

Curator Joey Lico teams up with artist Alexis Diaz to visit the mighty Rubell Museum in Miami

Vorres Museum

3 000 years of Greek history and postwar Greek art

Alexander Ramselaar Collection

A townhouse of young talent from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and around the world

Quetzal Art Centre

Contemporary art on a winery in the picturesque Alentejo region

Sammlung Wemhöner

A spontaneous exhibition set up in the now empty ballroom, before opening in 2023 as the collection's new home

Museum Liaunig

Nuriel Molcho and Francesca Gavin travel out of Vienna to hillside Carinthia, to meet with Peter Liaunig

Stella Art Foundation

An exhibition space for contemporary Russian art

Frissiras Museum

3 500 contemporary figurative paintings

Arario Museum in Space

Wide-ranging collection of Korean and Western art by the country’s leading collector and gallerist

Fondazione Brodbeck

Contemporary art in a post-industrial complex—in the shadow of a volcano

Peyrassol—Parc de Sculptures

A sculpture park on a centuries-old vineyard in Provence

Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung

A location for contemporary glass and photography

Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat

Argentina's wealthiest woman presents six centuries of art-treasure collecting

Rossini Art Site (RAS)

Large-scale sculpture in a landscape park

Castello di Ama per l’Arte Contemporanea

Site-specific installations for a dual passion: art and wine

Kasteel Wijlre Estate

Art from the 1960s to the present in a modern pavilion

Fundació Vila Casas

Three buildings, three points of focus: painting, sculpture and photography

Gibbs Farm

A sculpture park in XXL format with monumental art in the grandness of nature

Kloster Schoenthal

Nature-inspired sculptures in a pristine landscape

Pinchuk Art Centre

Blue-chip contemporary in the first private museum in the former USSR

Museo James Turrell — The Hess Art Collection, Colomé

Turrell’s largest Skyspace and additional light rooms in breathtaking surroundings


An extensive private collection of Swiss contemporary art of the last fifty years

Mathaf—Arab Museum of Modern Art

A Royal Collection Spanning 200 Years of Arab Art – Doha, Qatar

Sara Piccinini

Senior Coordinator, Collezione Maramotti - Reggio Emilia, Italy

Reflection and Speculation

Sammlung von Kelterborn – Frankfurt, Germany


DJ Cassy and Francesca Gavin meet with collectors Venke and Rolf A. Hoff in Henningsvær, Norway

Deichtorhallen Hamburg – Sammlung Falckenberg

Positions of social criticism in German and American contemporary art – Hamburg, Germany

The Walther Collection

Inside and Outside the Frame – Neu Ulm, Germany

Peter Ibsen Collection

Minimalist Works That Hone Your Sense for Detail – Copenhagen, Denmark

Initiating Dialogues

Sammlung Hoffmann – Berlin, Germany

The Mallin Collection & Buckhorn Sculpture Park

Andrea Denver and Francesca Gavin meet with collectors Sherry and Joel Mallin in Upstate New York

The Agah Uğur Collection

One of the Largest Video Art Collections in Istanbul, Turkey

KA Modern and Contemporary Art Space

900 Square Meters Dedicated to Lebanon’s Most Significant Artists – Beirut, Lebanon

Art About Beauty and Infirmity

Collezione De Iorio – Trento, Italy

Living Collection

Gary Yeh and Francesca Gavin meet with architect and collector William Lim in Hong Kong

Infinite Interiors

Philara Collection – Dusseldorf, Germany

Papko Art Collection

Works of Turkish Modernism at the legendary Ralli Apartment in Istanbul

Risky Business

Astrup Fearnley Museet – Oslo, Norway

Something Special, Something Sacred

The Goss-Michael Foundation – Dallas, United States of America

JAHM – Justin Art House Museum

Digital and Abstract Art — Melbourne, Australia

A More Democratic Art

MACBA – Museum of Contemporary Art of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Embracing the Accidental

Trajković Collection – Belgrade, Serbia

Galila's P.O.C.

A Collection Made up of Thematic Collections – Brussels, Belgium

Establishing Roots and Creating Links

The Ovidiu Șandor Collection – Timișoara, Romania

Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz

Abstract painting and concept art in Brazil’s interior – São Paulo

Conversation Pieces

KUNSTSAELE Berlin – Berlin, Germany

Magazzino Italian Art

Contemporary Italian Art on the Hudson River – New York

Slow Learning

de la Cruz Collection – Miami, United States of America

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

A venue for contemporary African art – Cape Town

The Elliott Eyes Collection

Engaging With the Collectors – Sydney

Foundation Francès

A French roadtrip reaching the radical reflections of artist Kader Attia

The Sublime Hyacinth Collection

Czech Art Meets Czech Design – Prague, Czech Republic

Marciano Art Foundation

Contemporary art at the Masonic temple – Los Angeles

Time Stamps

Julia Stoschek Collection – Berlin, Germany

Generative Grammars

Servais Family Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Chasing the Future

dslcollection – Paris, France

Charged Atmospheres

Transformer Station – Cleveland, United States of America

Places in, and out of, Time

Adrastus Collection – Arévalo, Spain

Eloquent Silences

The Givon Art Forum – Tel Aviv, Israel

Counting to Ten

Ten Cubed – Melbourne, Australia

Dispersing Narratives

The Wedge Collection – Toronto, Canada

Dialogues in Nature

Chatsworth – Bakewell, Great Britain

Present Pasts

The Feuerle Collection – Berlin, Germany

Space for the Future

The Vanhaerents Art Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Colección Contemporánea

A Global Collection from a Seasoned Art Collector In Mexico City

Adrastus Collection

A Collection That Shows the Diversity of Art in the Age of Globalization – Arevalo, Spain

Masters and Romantics

Collection Lambert – Avignon, France

Fondazione Rolla

A Collection of Modern and Contemporary Photography in Ticino

Finnish Rhapsody

Didrichsen Art Museum – Helsinki, Finland

Cranford Collection

One of Europe’s Most Important Collections with Renowned Contemporaries in Regent’s Park – London

Broad Minded

Artist Tomasz Kobialka on The Broad – Los Angeles, USA

Jean-Paul Najar Foundation

European-American Post-Minimalist Art in a Bauhaus-inspired building – Dubai

Treasure Hunt

The Wanås Foundation/Wanås Konst – Knislinge, Sweden

AMC Collezione Coppola

A Curious Collector Acquiring Art to Broaden his Understanding of the World

A Home for Light and Color

MALBA – Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires

Newport Street Gallery

Damien Hirst’s ‘Murderme’ Collection finds a permanent home – London

Franks Suss Collection

A Duo Investing in Artists and Not Cashing In – Hong Kong, London and Sydney

Mallin Collection & Buckhorn Sculpture Park

A Magic Sculpture Garden in Westchester County – Pound Ridge, New York

Shine On

Wurlitzer – Berlin-Pied-à-Terre Collection – Berlin, Germany

Houghton Hall – King's Lynn

Lavish 18th Century interiors juxtaposed with contemporary outdoor sculpture

Venet Foundation

An Artist’s Take on Collecting in the South of France

G2 Kunsthalle

Large-scale paintings of the New Leipzig School in dialogue

The Immaculate Collection

Igal Ahouvi Art Collection – Tel Aviv, Israel


The best of Chinese contemporary art, available 24/7/365

Thoma Foundation

Two intimate art spaces in Chicago and Santa Fe encourage dialogue between work and viewer

Lyon Housemuseum

Located near Melbourne, Australia, collector Corbett Lyon designed the Housemuseum to share it with the public

Follow The Yellow Brick Road

Inhotim – Instituto de Arte Contemporânea e Jardim Botânico

Portraiture Confronting a Land’s Traumatic Past

The Walther Collection – Project Space New York – New York City

Conceptual Authenticity

Sammlung Barbara und Axel Haubrok - haubrok projects - Berlin, Germany

A Self-taught Collector

Vass Collection - Veszprém, Hungary

Roots in Rotterdam

Concordia Collection - Rotterdam, Netherlands

Louvre goes Lens – and Pinault follows

How France’s most established museum and collector are redeveloping forgotten places

History Reinvented

Insights into the influential collection of Martin Parr

A Collection Which Never Sleeps

David Roberts Art Foundation – Great Britain, London

Get Lucky

David Walsh and his MONA

An Eye into a Secret World

SIP Shpilman Institute for Photography – Tel Aviv, Israel

Gifts for Philadelphia

Private collectors with a generous heart

A New Home for Miami’s Art Scene

On the opening of the Jorge M. Pérez Museum

Prima Materia at Punta Della Dogana

François Pinault Foundation - Venice, Italy

Eric and Jean Cass Collection

A private collection goes public

Bernardo Paz’s Transformative Museum

A closer look at Inhotim in Brazil

The Open Road to Jupiter

Robert & Nicky Wilson - Jupiter Artland

Collecting with an Impact

Dakis Joannou - Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art

Menil Collection Makeover

Starting with the parking lot

White Rabbit Collection

Chinese Contemporary Art – Australia, Sydney