Uli Sigg

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Uli Sigg
Uli Sigg in 2010.
Alma materUniversity of Zurich
Occupation(s)Businessman, diplomat, art collector
SpouseRita Sigg

Uli Sigg (born 1946) is a Swiss businessman, diplomat and art collector. He served as the Swiss Ambassador to China, North Korea and Mongolia from 1995 to 1998. He serves as the vice chairman of Ringier, the largest media company in Switzerland. He made a large donation of contemporary Chinese art to the Hong Kong-based M+ museum in 2012.

Early life[edit]

Uli Sigg was born in 1946.[1][2] He received a PhD in Law from the University of Zurich.[1]


Sigg started his career as a business journalist.[3] By 1977, he worked for the Schindler Group, where he was an expatriate in China.[4][5] He left the company in 1990.[1] He was a company director for the next five years, serving on the boards of Swiss corporations.[1]

Sigg served as the Swiss Ambassador to China, North Korea and Mongolia from 1995 to 1998.[1][2][4][6]

As of 2009, he served as the vice chairman of Ringier, a media company.[1] He also served on the advisory board of the China Development Bank.[1]

Art collection[edit]

Sigg became the largest private collector of contemporary Chinese art in the world.[5] His collection included "2,000 works by more than 350 Chinese artists".[3] Meanwhile, in 1997, he started the annual Chinese Contemporary Art Awards.[1]

In 2012, he donated 1,463 works by 350 Chinese artists from his collection to the M+, a new museum in Hong Kong,[3] scheduled to open in 2019.[7] The donation includes 26 works by Ai Weiwei and other works by "Ding Yi, Fang Lijun, Geng Jianyi, Gu Wenda, Huang Yongping, Liu Wei, Xu Bing and Zhang Xiaogang".[4] The combined works are worth an estimated US$163 million.[4]

Sigg kept 300 works in his personal collection.[4] Parts of the art collection can be found at Sigg's Mauensee Castle, which lies on its own island in Lake Mauensee.[8]

He serves on the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the International Advisory Council of the Tate in London, United Kingdom.[1]

As the Swiss Ambassador to North Korea, Sigg used his official contacts to gain access to the two North Korean art cooperatives, Mansudae Art Studio and Mount Paektu. He is the only foreign art collector permitted to purchase works by North Korean artists portraying the country’s leaders, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. The North Korea government even wanted him to build a contemporary art museum in North Korea, although he declined.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Sigg has a wife, Rita.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Uli Sigg". The Wharton Global Alumni Forum. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Dr. Uli Sigg". Ringier. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Rodger, Kristeen (March 4, 2016). "The Entrepreneur Who Helped Put Chinese Contemporary Art on The Map". Credit Suisse. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e Chow, Vivienne (September 13, 2012). "Uli Sigg's Gift to Hong Kong". Sotheby's Magazine. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Sigg, Uli (February 24, 2016). "Uli Sigg: How I built the world's biggest collection of Chinese contemporary art". CNN. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Uli Sigg in the Dodis database of the Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland
  7. ^ Chow, Vivienne (13 May 2015). "Opening of M+ museum in cultural district delayed until 2019". South China Morning Post.
  8. ^ Bilanz: Die Reichsten und ihre Schlösser: Burgherren. 4. Dezember 2009.
  9. ^ Hickley, Catherine (26 April 2021). "Rocket man: Uli Sigg on how he began collecting art while working in North Korea". The Art Newspaper.
  10. ^ Pollack, Barbara (August 15, 2005). "A Swiss Champion for the Art of a Rapidly Changing China". The New York Times. Retrieved March 12, 2016.