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The deal, announced at the end of last week, brings Mr Lester the backing of a large organisation he needs to continue competing at the top level while allowing dmg world media’s art and antique division to embark on a major development of its fairs business under the guidance of an entrepreneur experienced at making a splash at the top end.

Mr Lester’s IFAE company, which he runs with his wife Lee Ann, will provide the nucleus of dmg’s new group; dmg has retained the entire IFAE organisational staff, and the new group will operate out of IFAE’s headquarters in Stuart, Florida.

The deal means that dmg has now acquired the acclaimed Palm Beach International Art & Antique Fair, Art Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Town and Country International Exposition, and the Texas International Fine Art Fair.

“It is an important step in our long-term strategy to add international events of such outstanding calibre to the growing dmg world media art and antique portfolio,” said Mark Carr, executive vice president of the art and antique division.

“We are especially pleased that David and Lee Ann Lester have chosen us as their business partners and that they have agreed to head our new group specialising in prestigious international fairs in future years.”

In turn, Mr Lester expressed his satisfaction with the new partnership: “Clearly there is an ongoing consolidation and realignment at every level within the international art and antique markets. Lee Ann and I recognised that the time was propitious for us to align our fairs with a strong, respected international partner with a long-term commitment to this market sector.”

He said it had become increasingly difficult for smaller independent firms such as IFAE to “make a significant impact” in today’s competitive international market, but added that resources brought to the deal by dmg would “create even more global marketing power for our clients”.

Lee Ann Lester was especially pleased that dmg had “recognised that the key to future success for these individual events was to allow our fairs and organisation to remain operationally independent rather than moulding them into a corporate model”.

Antiques Trade Gazette’s David Moss, who has followed the Lesters’ career closely, is looking forward to seeing the impact the new partnership will have. “Within five years David Lester has made Palm Beach from nothing into one of the world’s top international fairs featuring what are undoubtedly the world’s top dealers. He has the vision to do more and is a brilliant showman.”

Mr Carr promised the new group would “aggressively seek new opportunities and venues throughout the world”.
dmg world media produces 300 public shows and trade exhibitions worldwide and a diverse mix of conferences, publications and online services. A major newspaper publisher, dmg owns the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard and numerous newspapers throughout the United Kingdom. Significant holdings in the art and antiques sector include Antiques Trade Gazette (UK), Antique Week (US), the Original Miami Beach Antique Show (US) and more than 100 regional art and antiques fairs events in the US, UK and France.