More West End art dealers will have to move premises as the trend for galleries finding their leases not being renewed continues.
Firms at 14 Old Bond Street look set to leave by September 2014 because of redevelopment plans, with the news coming soon after it was revealed that many dealers in nearby Cork Street are also facing relocation.
Although some of those Old Bond Street dealers are now discussing a move to St James's, in order to stay in the area, it is another blow to the West End art scene where the likes of high-end fashion chains able to pay higher rents are being favoured ahead of traditional galleries by landlords.
No.14 houses Cheshire dealer Clark Art's London office; antiquities dealer Rupert Wace; Ian Mackenzie Fine Art; Andrew Clayton-Payne; William Thuillier (British and European paintings 1600-1850); and Day & Faber (Old Master & 19th century drawings and paintings).
Mr Clayton-Payne set up as a private dealer in Old Bond Street in 1997 after eight years as head of British watercolours and drawings at Christie's, and he deals in 17th, 18th and 19th century English and European pictures from his second-floor gallery.
"It is sad news," he told ATG. "There were always going to be rumours that this was going to be redeveloped, and we were initially told it would be the ground floor and first floor. But in fact they have now told us our leases will not be renewed from September 2014 and they are also planning to do building work before that date, so we are very much in limbo and not knowing quite what's going on.
"Bond Street 30 years ago had lots of art dealers, but now we're being squeezed out by these big fashion houses. London is such a thriving city but redevelopment goes hand in hand with that. We don't have any power against the big companies which have so much money."
Mr Clayton-Payne said he fears that historical features such as tiles and panelling could be stripped out, and added: "The sad thing is that buildings like this really should be listed."
He said: "I think some of us will get together and find a similar sort of thing, probably in St James's; that's a good option. We can't leave the West End because this is the heart of the business and we love working here."
Clark Art Ltd are specialists in L.S. Lowry and Modern British art. Bill Clark said: "My lease at 14 Old Bond Street won't be renewed. I am unlikely to look for another place in the West End as it would be far more expensive than my current premises. I've had the space for nearly ten years now and it's served me well. It won't be too much of a problem as quite a number of our London clients come up to Cheshire to visit us."
The building is owned by the freeholders Unity Re. SpA, who bought it in 2010. <iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii>ATGasked the firm for a comment through Newton Perkins, the managing agents for the buildings, acting for Unity Re. SpA, but they declined.
In August, ATG reported that seven out of the 22 galleries in Mayfair's Cork Street had been informed their leases would not be renewed next year. But in October it was also revealed that five more Cork Street galleries are facing relocation.