Petch Osathanugrah, Collector Who Had Plans to Transform Thailand’s Art Scene, Dies at 63

Petch Osathanugrah, a Thai beverage company heir who avidly collected art and had plans to open a private museum devoted to his holdings, died of a heart attack on August 14 at 63, according to the Bangkok Post.

He was formerly the leader of Osotspa, the beverage company founded by his grandfather Surin Osathanugrah that now produces the popular M-150 energy drink. Petch served as the company’s CEO until 2022, when he left the position, and he also was president and CEO of Bangkok University.

An eccentric personality up until the very end, Petch was known for his unusual style, wearing his hair big in a way that differentiated him from many other business personalities.

Within the art world, he was known for a collection rich in both Thai contemporary art and Western modern art. At the time of his death, he was working to complete a Bangkok private museum for his holdings in the works, the 129,000-square-foot Dib Bangkok Museum of Contemporary Art, which is currently expected to open in 2025.

“I consider Thai contemporary art to be an integral part of international art and I include work that has either international recognition or the potential for it,” he once told CoBo Social. “Thai art, except for maybe two or three artists, doesn’t have a big influence on the world. The other artists seem to be mainly at galleries that are focused on Asian or Southeast Asian art.”

His collection includes works by Thai artists such as Montien Boonma, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Kawita Vatanajyankur, as well as pieces by artists from countries beyond Thailand such as Damien Hirst, Frank Stella, and Takashi Murakami.

Petch appeared on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list five years in a row starting in 2018.

Born in Bangkok in 1960, Petch also produced pop music, with some songs of his finding a large audience in Thailand.

Yet it is his collection that may have the greatest influence on Thailand’s arts scene, which Petch said was underserved by the country’s government.

He told Cura/genda, “For me, art is for contemplating and experiencing the present moment, and hopefully, take us beyond the limitations of our thinking mind, which is mostly mundane and shallow, and definitely not for speculating or investment.”