Masterpiece 2019: ending the season on a high note

On 12 July 2019, by Pierre Naquin

Many exhibitors at Masterpiece, the last international fair before the summer break, are likely to go on holiday with a song in their hearts.

Masterpiece London 2019
Photo Ben Fisher. Courtesy Masterpiece

Fair director Lucie Kitchener can smile. All indicators are up. Attendance rose by 10% (55,000 visitors) and, above all, nearly all the players reported brisk sales. "Masterpiece attracts collectors you don’t see anywhere else,” says Charly Bailly of Geneva and, recently, Paris. “I personally recognised five of the world’s 100 richest people. This event really focuses on those who make a fair successful: collectors and dealers. Unfortunately, some well-established fairs forget that." This was his best Masterpiece ever. He sold five pieces, including three at "six-figure" prices.
He was not alone. Sculpture specialist Robert Bowman posted nearly £500,000 in sales, including a small 1952 Henry Moore bronze (£180,000). Dickinson sold a Picasso and a Poliakoff, both for "seven figures", and Hauser & Wirth, who presented a magnificent creation by Takesada Matsutani, Luchita Hurtado’s Vertigo (1973) for £285,000. Robert Young sold over 25 pieces. "To me Masterpiece is now undeniably the United Kingdom’s best fine art fair,” he says, although others criticise its high participation cost.

MCH has nothing to do with it
To dealers, MCH’s arrival in the fair capital a little over a year ago does not seem to have been the key to this success. "You wouldn’t have guessed it without reading the papers", say Harry and Guy Apter, who had only a handful of works left by the end of the fair. However, some people stressed another view of the fair that could coincide with the new shareholder’s arrival. "The approach has become more comprehensive while keeping the quality very high," said Polly Bielecka of the Pangolin London Sculpture Gallery. "It seems like more international visitors have come in the past two years,” said Mattia Maurizio Martinelli and Roberta Tagliavini of Robertaebasta (Milan). “It’s just a pity they called off the charity evening.” Manuel Ludorff of Germany thinks the fair needs to further raise its international profile. There are "still many London exhibitors," he said.

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