The King of Digital Art

His New York gallery is turning high tech into a hot commodity. Now he wants to bring new-media masterpieces to the masses.

  1. In a conference room at Handsome, one of the largest fashion companies in South Korea, Steven Sacks, wearing an Etro suit and a Burberry tie—trademark furls of blond hair spilling from either side of his head—is trying to explain the nuances of the art business to Chung Jae-Bong, the president. “I will call up some key collectors before an art fair happens and say, ‘You should buy this,’ and without even seeing the piece, they’ll buy it,” Sacks says. “Twice it’s happened with this one collector—and he nearly doubled his money in three days.”

    Mr. Chung, as he is always addressed, listens carefully, his eyes focused intensely on Sacks. This is the first time they’ve met, so it’s a feeling-out, a getting-to-know-your-business-model sit-down.

    Sacks is the founder of bitforms, a New York-based gallery devoted exclusively to what has been variously termed new media art, digital art, interactive art, and software art. He came to Seoul at the behest of Mr. Chung, who took a small garment manufacturing company and turned it into a fashion design, retail, and real estate empire. Now among Korea’s wealthiest businessmen, Mr. Chung wants Sacks to open a branch of bitforms inside Mue, his upscale clothing boutique in Seoul. “I need to understand the viability of having a gallery in your space,” Sacks says. “Just like you, I’ve built a brand, and I want to make sure it stays at a high level.”

    Bitforms first caught Mr. Chung’s attention last year, when Sacks sold an ensemble of artwork t...

Originally published in Wired, September 2005