At a Westminster City Council meeting on the evening of Thursday, February 4, the application to hold the fair was approved unanimously after a brief discussion lasting just five minutes.
It was a triumph for the due diligence of the organisers whose groundwork had included a residents’ consultation meeting where the reception had been positive and letters of support from local businesses who hope a deluxe fair opposite the Royal Hospital Chelsea will aid the local economy.
“In collaboration with the Royal Hospital, we have been working extremely hard over the past few months,” said delighted fair director Nicola Winwood. “We look forward to delivering a world-class event for the local community and indeed the city of London.”
Harry Apter, one of the four founding partners of Masterpiece London, told ATG he had been quietly confident of approval but – with the hurdle negotiated comfortably – it would only now be possible to go “full steam ahead” with promotion and publicity. He also conceded that certain exhibitors had been happy to sit on the fence and wait for the planning decision before committing to this or another event.
The list of names already signed up for the fair (no money could change hands until planning permission was granted) includes 15 established firms from the art and antiques world.
Joining A La Vieille Russie (USA), MacConnal-Mason, Marchant, S.J. Phillips, Peter Finer, Tomasso Brothers and the founders Mallett, Ronald Phillips, Apter-Fredericks and Asprey are the distinguished names of Anthony Woodburn, Cahn International (Switzerland), Offer Waterman, Galerie Steinitz (France), Vanderven & Vanderven (The Netherlands) and Wartski.
Mr Apter said he expected more to follow shortly – attracted by a competitive all-inclusive price (£750 per square metre with no additional levies for marketing, lighting, internet access etc) and the potential of a bespoke structure in SW1.
Stabilo, the architects and standfitters whose clients include TEFAF Maastricht, will build the semi-permanent marquee, but they have also taken a financial share in the holding company for Masterpiece London, confident it will be an excellent showcase for their products.
Also announced last week was a royal patron for the fair, HRH Princess Alexandra.
Masterpiece London is now officially one of a group of arts and antiques fairs that, while in competition for exhibitors, promise to make this year’s London high season among the busiest ever.
After 75 years, Grosvenor House may have gone but in its place are: David Lester’s revamped London International Fine Art Fair at Olympia (June 4-13); the Haughtons’Art Antiques London fair in Kensington Gardens (June 9-16); The Berkeley Square Art & Antique Fair organised by Patrick Perrin and Stéphane Custot (June 24-27) and Masterpiece London (June 24-29).
Caroline Penman’s new West London Art & Antiques Fair at the Kensington Town Hall (June 3-6) and the second Russian, Eastern and Oriental Fine Art Fair, this year in the ballroom complex of the Park Lane Hotel (June 9-12), add to a crowded month full of choice.
By Roland Arkell