The Sovereign Art Foundation: 18 Years Of Art Prizes And This Year’s Winner

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The Sovereign Art Foundation: 18 Years Of Art Prizes And This Year’s Winner

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In 2003, Tiffany Pinkstone and I founded The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF) and immediately launched The Sovereign Asian Art Prize.

The primary aim of the prize was to raise substantial funds to assist disadvantaged children in Asia using art as therapy and rehabilitation. To do that we needed to create the region’s most sought-after contemporary art prize. We are very happy to report that we believe we have done exactly that.

Happy days. And lots of them.

Over the last 18 years, we have raised over US$10 million for artists and disadvantaged children, predominately through our Prize mechanism. With these funds, we are proud to have been able to help improve the mental well-being of many thousands of children who struggle with adverse circumstances.

At the same time, we believe we have also achieved our other aim – which went hand in hand with our fundraising. We have been able to offer hundreds of Asian artists a new and more international platform, through which many have gone on to achieve record prices for their work. We are also happy to have been able to engage the public in the process, and hopefully have increased their appreciation of art for art’s sake, with our Public Vote Prize.


All the Prizes – and we now have prizes in Asia, Africa and Portugal – run along the same lines. We appoint independent art experts from around the region to act as nominators, ask them to approach the best artists working today, and encourage them to enter the prize. This process of vetting ensures the highest quality of entries – of which we receive hundreds for each Prize. A separate judging panel then select the best 30 artists to become the finalists and to be exhibited in Hong Kong, Cape Town, or Portugal, according to the Prize’s region.

Following a final round of judging, the Grand Prize Winner receives US$30,000 and a rather nice trophy. For the last four years, we have awarded the Vogue Hong Kong Women’s Art Prize in Asia to the highest-scoring female artist – who is not the Grand Prize winner. The third prize, Public Vote Prize, is decided purely by public votes cast online or at the exhibition.

All but the Grand Prize-winning artwork are then sold, with 50% of the proceeds going to the artist (equivalent to what they would ordinarily receive from a commercial gallery), and the other 50% is used to fund charitable programmes either run or supported by SAF.

Untitled 1 by Faezeh Baharloo


In this year’s Sovereign Asian Art Prize, the winners of the Grand Prize (Azin Zolfaghari), the Vogue Hong Kong Women’s Art Prize (Faezeh Baharloo) and the Public Vote Prize (Marium Agha) are all female, with the first two prizes going to Iranian artists. It’s wonderful to see three talented women artists receiving recognition from both the judges and the public. It also happens to be the first time we have had entries from Iran. Perhaps we have discovered a new hotbed of artistic talent.

HEAR HEAR by Marium Agha


Under normal circumstances, we would host a grand gala dinner where we sell the works. Due to COVID-related restrictions, it has not been possible in Hong Kong to hold such an event for the last few years. Instead, the works have been made available for sale through our website and at our exhibitions.

This year we exhibited the finalists at Art Central, who kindly gave us space without charge and indeed have been long-term supporters of SAF. Our thanks go out to their team for assisting yet again.

We had a lot of visitors to our booth and some sales, but there are still works available so please have a look at our gallery here. To enquire about any artworks, you can send us an email.

Density by Azin Zolfaghari


If you are interested in purchasing a limited edition print of Azin Zolfaghari’s Density (US$1,500), please get in contact here. All proceeds will be put towards our charitable
programmes. Original artworks by Zolfaghari and Marium Agha are also available for sale, with proceeds spilt equally between the artist and our charitable programmes – click here to register interest.


Our proud boast is that those buying from SAF are giving themselves the best possible chance of making a good investment – not only in art but in the future of the beneficiaries we serve.

There is no other forum in the world where the artworks have been selected by two independent boards of art experts and is therefore a unique opportunity for our audience. Many of our finalists have quickly gone on to much bigger and better things and now have substantial resale value.

Of course, art has a value beyond monetary in that it can provide much viewing pleasure for many years. However, we would argue that buying from SAF gives a great chance of a return, as well as the knowledge that you have contributed to a worthy cause.

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