25 April 2009

Damien Hirst Exhibition in Kyiv

Last night my wife and I visited the opening of the Damien Hirst Exhibition at the famous Pinchuk Art Centre in Kyiv. The usual VIP guests were in attendance, including Pinchuk and many of the so called famous Ukrainians and we met many expats who had been invited.

This is the first time we have seen any of Hirsts 'material' in Ukraine. Fellow brits are only too aware of the reputation that Damian Hirst has established. On display were the usual 'Shark in Formaldehyde', followed by 'sheep',etc etc. The stunning slaughter of the cow exhibit is also there, plus a seperate cows head, with blood and flies etc. Most of the exhibit is concerned with SKULLS, ASH TRAYS and lemons............ Even a collection of Cigarete Butts, a collection of tablets and a display which looked like a display cabinet from Boots the Chemists???

Many Ukrainains were just trying to keep a straight face I am sure!!! I had to pose the question to most of my fellow expats I met at the exhibition: "So what do you think?"The answers ranged from " Interesting" (That sly British diplomatic way of saying it was not so good) to
"No comment" and even "Maybe I am missing something". But I had to remind my friends that Damien Hirst made USD 198 MILLION last year from the sale of a complete collection at Sothebys. (Plus he has made other sums) but this was a record by an artist in one sale.

So, what is it about his 'works'? Why do people pay vast amounts for his work. If as I suspect, the main intention is to SHOCK and cause comment and wide spread discussion, you have to take your hat off to him. BUT IS IT ART? What is ART??

Finally, as usual, my dear wife summed up our visit very nicely:"Its all garbage...just garbage.....lets leave and go for something to eat". So we did.

But a visit to the exhibition is recommended.

11 April 2009

Ukraine Property Market

Yesterday, I gave a short presentation at the Ukraine Real Estate Club meeting in Kyiv.
I was asked to talk about the attractiveness of the Ukraine market for foreign investors and also the problems they face.

The main attractiveness of Ukraine right now (mostly Kyiv) is that investors can purchase an income producing asset at a greatly reduced price!!!!
However, the large investment groups are staying away from Ukraine and it will be a LONG time before they return. The people we are meeting now are opportunists (and why not) who are looking to see what they can pick up in a market that is getting hungry for business.

I think the prices from the boom years will NOT return in Kyiv and we are going to see more realistic property prices.

The next BBCU meeting in Kyiv will also look at the current situation in the property market and it will be a round table event.

10 April 2009

Financial Crisis in the UK and Ukraine

This week on 7th April we held another joint meeting with the British Ukrainian Society here in Kyiv. 88 people attended to listen to our guest speakers - Richard Spring MP (Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party) and Igor Mitiukov (Managing Director of Morgan Stanley in Ukraine and previously Ukraine Ambassador to the UK). My personal thanks to Richard and Igor.

Many of our members informed me later that this was one of the best meetings we have had this year.

The outlook for the remainder of 2009 is gloomy in both of the above mentioned economies.Interesting and thought provoking how SO MANY people now work for the government, both national and local in the UK. The salaries of the CEO's of many local authorities outways those of senior managers in large private sector companies.

In Ukraine we have the dual problem of economic 'mess' and political instability.
Ukraine does not have the social support infrastructure as in a developed economy.
I could go so far as to say that 'Capitalism' is supreme in Ukraine and we have more socialism in the UK!!!

We will see what is happening in the property market in our next meeting on 29th April.