Although foreign travel has been greatly curtailed during the pandemic, customers from abroad were very much welcomed by the trade, with dealers delighted to see a steady trickle of buyers from the US and Europe busy at the fair.
Dealers also noted the buzz on King’s Road, with the Chelsea in Bloom street art show and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in the area adding to the general sense of bustle and optimism.
Indeed, a few dealers including Haynes Fine Art and Gladwell & Patterson had chosen to take stands at the flower show, thereby ensuring visitors to the district were never far away from a fine art stall.
At the antiques fair, Andrew Muir, trading in 20th century ceramics on a shared stand with fellow decorative arts dealer James Miles, reported meeting a handful of US buyers in the first two days of the fair including interior designers and decorators.
Muir sold a number of pieces to two American purchasers including a pair of Clarice Cliff vases to a US collector for £7500.
He added: “If they are jabbed they are coming. The quantity has not been great but the quality has been very good. Better to have fewer people that are actually buyers than just window shoppers.”
David Brooker of David Brooker Fine Art (specialising in English and European paintings from the 17th-21st centuries) is British but based in Connecticut and reported a sale to a client visiting from Dallas, Texas.
He sold a 19th century genre picture (of a cardinal with his Italian entourage in a landscape) for a four-figure sum. The picture was actually in Brooker’s New York warehouse and the buyer viewed the picture online while speaking to Brooker at his stand at the fair. The dealer added: “This is a cosmopolitan part of London so some of the visitors with accents may live in the UK and have come and bought.
“But I have also met a buyer who flew in from China plus my US client. It has definitely attracted buyers from far and wide.”
Other dealers noted they had met Italian and German visitors.
Chelsea Antiques Fair, cel ebrat ing its 70th anniversary, is under new ownership after it was acquired earlier this year from Caroline Penman by dealers Charles Wallrock and Steve Sly, founders of online marketplace 2Covet, and has been organised by fair director Sophie Wood.
Running until September 26, the event attracted around 30 dealers who took stands at Chelsea Old Town Hall on the King’s Road.