From the 29th June preview to the
close on July 6 Masterpiece in the South Grounds of The Royal Hospital, Chelsea
not only impressed visitors with the quality and presentation of the work on
offer but generated enough business to impress the roster of 154 top
Last year Masterpiece was on track to cement
its position as the UK’s top fair to the extent that in the summer season at
least it has no rivals. Last year the fair did much serious business and got
exactly the right balance between the undoubted substance of the stock on offer
and the hitherto overblown emphasis on glamour. This year all agreed the event
had further proved its mettle as both an upmarket international marketplace and
a starry day out.
Sales have still to be confirmed but praise for
the fair seemed universal around the stands, even if not everyone enjoyed
bumper sales on the day.
There was talk of this seventh edition being
the strongest to date but I am not sure yet if it surpassed last year’s
breakthrough airing. It drew 37,000 visitors, slightly down on last year, and
the preview alone pulled in 8000.
There were notable newcomers and they all
reported a unique atmosphere and new collector audience.
Frederic Gille-Nocard of Dutko Gallery, Paris
commented “we were delighted to participate in Masterpiece for the first time.
The fair has been extremely successful for us and the whole atmosphere was
fantastic.” Boris Vervoordt, a director of Axel Vervoordt said “what’s
fantastic about Masterpiece is it attracts the most amazing people internationally, it has become
a real destination.”
Museum interest continued to be high and has
already engendered a significant number of acquisitions.
Early sales were buoyant for many with M&L
Fine Art of Bond Street selling their 1961 Enrico Castellani to a European
collector for €700,000 while Mayfair’s Tornabuoni Art sold two works by Paolo
Scheggi to a new Brazilian collector for “close to a million pounds” and
Symbolic & Chase of Bond Street sold a sapphire and diamond brooch for the
familiar “seven figure sum.”
Antiquities again proved strong with London’s
Rupert Wace selling a Romano-Egyptian black porphyry head (pictured) of a King from the
Ist century AD to an American museum for £250,000 and Ariadne Galleries of New
York and London taking $500,000 for an Egyptian mummy mask from Western Thebes,
did Brexit do any damage? Gregory Demirjian, co-president of Ariadne Galleries’
observation was : “We have seen notable international sales, which I believe
indicates that the global market shows no signs of slowing. This year’s
Masterpiece shows the resilience of the art market in the UK, demonstrating
that London continues to remain the capital of the art market.”