Viktor Pinchuk—Ukrainian billionaire, philanthropist and avid art collector—rallied all corners of the international art world atop the Gramercy Park Hotel Tuesday evening. The occasion? The inauguration of his $100,000 Viktor Pinchuk Foundation Future Generation Art Prize, a worldwide competition open by online application to any and all artists under 35. Considering its Satchi-like scale and purse, $40,000 of which is required to go to the production of new works, the Prize is impressive.

The winners, to be chosen by a panel of experts yet to be announced, will be mentored by Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Andreas Gursky, and Takashi Murakami, whose Gesai Art Festival Inspired Pinchuk to start the Prize. Why these artists, aside from their pop influence and Pinchuk's extensive holdings of their works?  "It was a natural choice," said the collector. "I have to be diplomatic. I cannot say they are the most important artists in the world but these four artists... definitely have something to say to the next generation." With great talent comes great responsiblity, added Pinchuk, "This is an opportunity that is, with all their success upon them, I think." (LEFT: LARRY GAGOSIAN, ELI BROAD, VIKTOR PUNCHUK)
 
"In a time when everyone is reducing their commitment to art,it is a very important signal to invest in the young generation," said director of the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev, Eckhard Schneider, who with Koons and Gursky addressed the likes of Larry Gagosian, Jay Jopling and Annabelle Seldorf. Hirst and Murakami both apologized for their absence  via video recordings. "When I was 17, I called Salvador Dali," recalled Koons. The call resulted in a subsequent rendezvous, during which Dali took the young Koons to one of his photography exhibitions in New York. "I really went home feeling that I could do this too. So as a mentor, I'm making myself available."

As the evening came to a close, Pinchuk put a more personal spin on the magnitude of his award—and suggested it might be speculative a speculative venture, too: "Maybe we will find the new genius."


Artists may apply online to win Pinchuk's prize starting January 18 at www.futuregenerationartprize.org.