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The Haughtons put their decision to cancel directly down to the global economic situation and in a statement said: “Many of the dealers who had contracted to take part are not in a position to go forward in the current climate and as such we have decided a fair would put an untenable strain on their resources”.

It was in the days after the added trauma of the alleged massive fraud by New York financier Bernard Madoff that Anna Haughton telephoned her exhibitors to tell them the Asian fair was off.

The International Asian Art Fair was founded in 1996 and rapidly became the hub of New York’s successful Asia Week. In recent years, though, it was arguably the weakest of the Haughton’s four annual New York fairs.

It changed character, largely due to an influx of contemporary dealers, and lost ground as top American and UK dealers in the field chose to mount their own selling shows in Manhattan during Asia Week.

A full programme of these exhibitions will continue in March as will the increasingly successful Arts of Pacific Asia fair which will be held at its new downtown venue at 7W New York from March 14 to 18.

In 2008 the Haughtons’ Asia fair had to be staged at 583 Park Avenue and, partly due to the size of the venue, just 31 exhibitors took part. At its height the fair attracted at least 60 top exhibitors.

The fair was due to return to the Armory this year and it is believed that at the time of cancellation around 36 dealers had signed up.

Anna Haughton told ATG “We are hugely disappointed and hope to be able to re-launch the fair in 2010’’.

However, it is difficult to recall a case of a cancelled international fair ever resurfacing.