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Marco Forgione, outgoing CEO of the British Antique Dealers’ Association.

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Forgione will leave the BADA in January 2020 and the association’s council is in discussions about a successor. In his new role, Forgione vows to “advocate, in the strongest terms, for the vital role of antiques and art in global trade”.

Seismic change

During a four-year tenure as BADA’s first-ever CEO, Forgione and chairman Michael Cohen instigated some major changes as they sought to rejuvenate the 100-year-old trade body.

Bold but controversial moves included selling the association’s Rutland Gate offices in Knightsbridge in 2015 to free up investment funds and, in September this year, the sale of an 80% stake in its annual fair to sustain the event’s future.

Association’s first CEO

Cohen praised Forgione, saying that BADA’s first-ever CEO “leaves the association having achieved financial stability and prepared for the challenges of the 21st century”.

“Marco joined the team at BADA at a time of major changes affecting every aspect of the association and was required to hit the ground running,” Cohen said, adding that he had “truly enjoyed” working with him over the past four years.

Forgione, who joined BADA after years leading the events industry’s trade body EVCOM, said it had been “an honour to help lead BADA” and “to work with so many brilliant people at a time when the trade has faced unimaginable change and disruption”.

Challenges faced

That ‘disruption’ included the challenge of a near-total UK ban on trade in ivory antiques and other issues, such as the government’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ initiative, which would require quarterly, digital reporting of income tax returns.

Forgione joined with other small business bodies to lobby HMRC on the impossible burden this scheme would place on members. The protests succeeded in delaying its introduction until at least autumn 2020.

A few initiatives fared less well, such as BADA Auctions in June 2016 which turned out to be a one-off.

Efforts to rebuild the BADA’s portal, bada.org, after a split from web platform Online Galleries, were more successful. Visitor numbers to the site have tripled since its launch in 2018, with particular interest from the US.