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The prestigious picture fair was founded by London-based Brian and Anna Haughton in 1994 and in its heyday hosted more than 60 art dealers, numbering among them many of the world’s top international names.

However, in recent years the fair has lost numbers, including many of those big names, and last spring’s staging could muster no more than 35 exhibitors with a less than star-studded cast.

The Haughtons subsidised that fair themselves and doubts about its future were raised by the art trade at the time.

Before Christmas, the art world assumed the fair was finished, although a 2011 fair was scheduled for the Park Avenue Armory from April 30 to May 4 and the Haughtons maintained their staff in New York and London were still canvassing dealers on its future.

While no final decision had been taken, it will be remembered, that these same organisers said they were consulting their dealers about the future of their International Asian Art Fair, which they went on to abandon last March.

Another factor is the now enormous cost of renting the Armory, which is making it difficult to maintain events. It now costs $30,000 a day to rent the space.

Meanwhile, Manhattan organiser Sanford Smith has announced the cancellation of his 22-year-old Works on Paper fair, scheduled for the Armory in February, citing the economic climate.

By David Moss