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The Open Art Fair at Duke of York Square in Chelsea takes place on March 18-24.

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Thomas Woodham-Smith, who was one of those who bought a majority stake in BADA Fair in September 2019, told ATG: “We are advised by our insurers, who are in touch with the relevant government bodies, that the event can take place. We don’t intend to cancel unless we are forced.”

He added that hand sanitisers and other precautions will be put in place. Delivery of the event’s lanyards from China has been held up, but replacements have been ordered from a UK supplier.

The news comes as TEFAF Maastrict organisers this week confirmed that eight exhibitors have pulled out of the event due to coronavirus concerns.

The 33rd edition of the world’s premier art fair is going ahead after a thumbs-up from Dutch health authorities, opening to the public on Saturday, March 7.

360 virtual tour of stands

Buyers who cannot visit TOAF can experience the event online via a virtual 350-degree tour of every stand.

Exhibitors will be able to tag items and send links through to clients who “may prefer to stay at home and experience the fair from anywhere in the world,” Woodham-Smith said.

The inaugural TOAF has more than 100 exhibitors standing from across the art, antiques and design spectrums, in the same location as the BADA fair in Duke of York Square, Chelsea.

Non-BADA exhibitors

A quarter of exhibitors are non-BADA members, a feature that was a key element in the event’s purchase negotiations

Woodham-Smith said he was bullish about the fair’s debut. “Last year BADA’s fair had 20,000 visitors and this year, we've already had more than 40,000 views of the website, with people looking at ten objects, on average.”

Instead of a preview night, TOAF organisers are hosting a charity ‘Next Generation’ party organised by Ovarian Cancer Action on Monday, March 23.

Woodham-Smith and Harry Van der Hoorn, owner of Dutch stand builder Stabilo, were co-founders of Masterpiece London 11 years ago and in 2019 bought an 80% share in the BADA Fair for an undisclosed sum.