Day in the Life: Art Collector and Influencer Gary Yeh Takes Us for a Spin Around the City’s Hottest Parties During Frieze Seoul
The ArtDrunk founder shares the inside track on Itaewon night.
Gary Yeh is an art collector and founder of ArtDrunk, the popular Instagram account and global media brand aimed at making sense of the art world and making contemporary art accessible to all. Last week, as the art world descended on Seoul for Frieze’s debut in the city, Yeh documented a day in his life during the fair’s opening week.
It’s party day! At least just one of many during Frieze Seoul. For me, it’s the first time we’ve ever thrown a big party for ArtDrunk, and so I wake up with some nerves. Are people going to show up? Are the party favors all prepped? But a big part of the night is also time management—we aren’t the only party on the block. Luckily it’s all contained within Itaewon as part of Frieze’s Itaewon Night.
10:30 a.m. I slept in a bit to recover from the previous night (Gladstone, Sadie Coles, Jason Haam, Chantal Crousel, Pace, Koenig, Leeum etc. etc. all hosted events). Then it was straight to work to film the final bit of a teamLab exhibition video at Pace. A lot of people might not be aware, but a big part of what we do at ArtDrunk is working with galleries and museums to produce content around their artists and shows. This week was no different, with six or seven projects running concurrently. I met up with Kazumasa Nonaka (from teamLab) to start on some of the edits.
11:30 a.m. Just down the street, I went over to MMMG, which is where we hosted our party, to check on last minute details. Banner: check!
11:45 a.m. MMMG is also where I hang out the most, since Anthracite Coffee is a tenant, taking up three floors. This is definitely the less glamorous part of what I do day-to-day. Just lots of sitting in coffee shops grinding out work. Today, it was more about organizing the guest list while keeping one eye ahead on the next day’s calendar for when the Frieze Seoul preview starts.
1 p.m. Also on the same street is one of my favorite Korean restaurants for something healthy, a bit nicer yet not too fancy: Gongi. I met up with our videographer Lucy for some fried eggplant with prawn, and more shrimp jeon (essentially a Korean fritter). Not pictured is the abalone cold noodles we downed in a minute. This spot is a favorite amongst the art crowd.
2 p.m. I headed back to my apartment to finish up work before I needed to start attending some events. I love the cab ride back as it’s a moment of pause and greenery before the madness.
3 p.m. I chat with Lucy on the phone as she’s on her way to COEX, where Frieze Seoul is located. We’re doing a project with White Cube to feature one of my close friends Jini Yang to capture the beauty of Seoul and what she does as their Korea representative. Lucy is just wrapping up the final bits of filming, getting some footage of the install. I didn’t take many photos, but this was from our first filming day a few days prior. A theme to what I love doing with seeing art is looking for and eating the best pastries in town. These were from Fritz Coffee in Jongno.
6 p.m. Before I know it, the evening has already arrived. I head back to MMMG to check on our party prep and then off to Leeum Museum for arguably this biggest party of the week, hosted by CJ. Celebrities and art people galore. I’m definitely underdressed for this one, but it was fun to run into Bae Jaemin, one of my close friends and a great artist in Seoul.
6:30 p.m. I promised Emma Son, Senior Director at Lehmann Maupin, I would pop by her party as well. I see her all the time, though, so it was really the bbq that sold me on checking it out. And of course the art—they just opened McArthur Binion.
8 p.m. Our ArtDrunk rooftop party begins! We were blessed with perfect weather for the night and I couldn’t be happier with the food, drinks, venue, and vibes. VinVin catered for us, which is one of my favorite new restaurants in Seoul, also not too far from Itaewon. Korean street food-inspired dishes were so good with the Tokki soju cocktails. Sadly, I had never played host before and ended up too busy to have more than one bite.
10 p.m. By now, I realize I missed the Chanel Party I was planning on attending. But plugging them here so hopefully they keep me on the invite list for their future parties… speaking of fashion parties, I grabbed a quick pic with a couple other close friends OJ and Big. OJ is hosting the Dolce & Gabbana party the next night (the main reason I sent my day in the life to artnet a little late…).
12 a.m. Our party ended around 11:30 p.m. Hung around with the team for a bit longer. And then popped into David Zwirner’s party at Hyundai Card Understage.
1 a.m. By the time midnight rolled around, I was already ready for bed, but needed to make it to one last party to say hi to my friends at Petzel and Gallery Hyundai for their party at Kokiri.
2 a.m. Because I didn’t have much food to eat that night, I made the rash decision to head to Saebyukjip, a classic Seoul BBQ spot for late nights like these.
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