The bad… It was a tough year for some fairs, with several events falling by the wayside and dealers targeted by thieves at events.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now
Green shoots are showing in the UK fairs calendar. Since this time last year there has been a huge amount of changes, but the determination of fair organisers, dealers and loyal buyers mean that many new events could be here to stay - given enough commitment.

An astonishing number of fairs were scrapped over the past 12 or so months. Most notable was the week in January where both Masterpiece and Olympia, London’s two major summer fairs, were both called off.

It followed a flurry of cancellations late last year. First the series of fairs owned by 2Covet closed (the company itself folded in February this year) and the Petworth Park Antiques and Fine Art Fair which it had bought was sold back to the original owners. The once three times a year Art & Antiques for Everyone Fair (AAfE) was shuttered. IACF announced in December that its September Ally Pally fair had been its last.

Then, in February this year the ill-fated Open Art Fair, which had its single staging the week lockdown started in March 2020, was called off, followed shortly by the Galloway Antiques Fairs series.

Treasure value

However, dealers hardly had time to throw their hands up in despair before a series of new fairs were announced.

The original team behind Masterpiece devised a new high-end summer event, which it dubbed Treasure House Fair. Ally Pally was revived thanks to the formation of the Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors Fair. A ceramics dealer, John Andrews, launched Classic Antique Fairs to hold a series of events across the UK, starting at the NEC in December. LAPADA, which brought back its flagship fair in September, also announced an NEC event to follow in spring 2024.

The continued energy of fair organisers could also be seen in their commitment to security. Though there were none of the high-profile robberies such as the one that rocked TEFAF Maastricht last year, a series of thefts that devastated the small businesses they hit occurred around various London shops and markets. ATG reported exclusively on these incidents and a public ramping up of security from fairs followed, even when they had not been targeted. Among those stepping up measures were Sunbury Antiques, Adams Antiques Fairs and the Bermondsey Square Antiques Market.


The good… Reasons to be cheerful included new fairs being announced and major sales revealed.

Changing times

Inevitably, the changes also affected the fairs that stayed the course.

Frieze Masters, which once shared its top-tier platform with events such as Masterpiece, was suddenly the uncontested leader of the London historic fairs circuit. Although organisers say that it was not inspired by the loss of the other fair, it also subtly widened its remit this year, allowing in antique furniture and silver specialists for the first time.

The Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair, long a favourite of its regular exhibitors, continued a steady rise to prominence as the fair both to attend and to imitate due to its good organisation and reliability. Tribal Art London, which previously took place in the Mall Galleries, shifted to run alongside the Decorative fair in the venue’s mezzanine.

Outside London, Cooper Events reported that the loss of the AAfE fairs at least had a positive knock-on effect, encouraging Midlands buyers and dealers who would usually have attended the NEC to try its fairs instead.

By the time autumn rolled around, the events calendar was busy. The Northern Antiques Fair, the LAPADA Berkeley Square Fair and the British Art Fair all ran at once, closely followed by the autumn Decorative fair. Good results were reported. Major sales were reported at Frieze Masters, suggesting that London remains an international hub for art buying. More good news came from the CADA Antiques Fair where footfall was up 20% year on year.

Support structure

How to keep the momentum going? It’s all down to the dealers.

In the past, fairs were such an integral part of business for so many dealers that attracting a high volume of exhibitors was less of a problem. However, even before Covid and lockdowns ushered in the rise of internet buying as an alternative, dealer commitment was a growing problem. More and more dealers would hold off, either hoping for a last-minute discount or as an act of self-preservation, unwilling to spend until they knew it was safe to do so.

Several fairs cited poor dealer commitment as reasons behind their closure, Olympia and Open Art Fair among them.

For next year, fairs are urging exhibitor loyalty. Both Sunbury Antiques Market and LAPADA with its Berkeley Square Fair are offering to preserve 2023 prices for next year if dealers book far enough in advance.

Andrews, organiser of Classic Antique Fairs, put prices for his new event low and stuck to it for every exhibitor, even though he judged that some that held on waiting for a discount ultimately lost out on a place at the inaugural event.



Two portraits by Veronica Burleigh (1909-99) bring fervent bidding at Kings Russell’s first sale of the year, setting the highest prices ever recorded for the Sussex painter. Shown here is a a self-portrait, a signed oil on canvas that makes £15,000 in the Knightsbridge auction.

■ Sotheby’s reports its largest full-year sales in the company’s 277-year history after a successful 2022. However, 2022 is Christie’s year. It reports total sales at $8.4bn. This is up 17% in US dollar terms and up 34% in sterling compared with 2021 figures - the highest annual sales total in art market history.

For both Christie’s and Sotheby’s single-owner collections have been key. At Christie’s the show-stopping Paul Allen sale set an all-time high for a single-owner collection.

■ For the first time in its history Bonhams reports an annual turnover of more than $1bn (£840m). The figures released for 2022 follow a raft of acquisitions.

■ Macclesfield and Liverpool auction house Adam Partridge expands its operation into the south-east and south-west of England with the purchase of two existing salerooms: Bainbridges in Ruislip, west London, and a small firm in Hele, Devon, Auction Antiques, near Exeter.


A George II marble-topped console table in the manner of William Kent sells for £182,000 at The Auction Room London, more than 90 times top estimate and a house record for the firm.

■ The 2023 edition of Masterpiece London and the summer Art & Antiques Fair Olympia are cancelled, leaving a crater in the capital’s summer season. Dealers are left scrambling to find alternative selling strategies as they face a compressed calendar of fairs.

■ Three former Chiswick Auctions picture specialists join west London saleroom Olympia Auctions. The appointments come as the firm expands its sales calendar.

■ A spectacular Roman gold medallion takes a record price for an imperial coin at the latest New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC). The Diocletian gold 10 aurei coin or denio minted in Aquileia in 294AD sells for $1.9m (£1.54m) at Classical Numismatic Group.



A commessi di pietre dure panel from one of the Grand Ducal workshops’ most celebrated commissions far exceeds expectations at Roseberys’ Fine & Decorative sale, taking £265,000. The capriccio of Venice in cut stone was catalogued as 19th century but research shows it was made in Florence, c.1750-60.

■ It is revealed that BBC Antiques Roadshow expert Henry Sandon will sell his private collection at Gloucestershire auction house Chorley’s in the spring. The acknowledged leading authority on Worcester porcelain and a specialist across all ceramics consigns 1000 items.

■ Former Masterpiece founders Thomas Woodham-Smith and Harry Van der Hoorn unveil a new London summer art fair at Royal Hospital Chelsea. The launch of a new high-end fair in London is welcome news after recent closures in the capital.

■ For the second year running Dreweatts is the UK’s leading ‘regional’ auction house with a January to December hammer turnover of £25.7m. Topped by a Qianlong ‘heavenly globe’ vase sold in May for £1.2m (the one seven-figure lot sold in the regions in 2022), the auction house achieved close to 2021’s £27.7m - which remains a record for any provincial saleroom.


A rediscovered work by ‘Uruguay’s most important painter’ Juan Manuel Blanes (1830-1901) sells for a record £1.15m at Toovey’s, West Sussex. The painting of a gaucho was estimated at £80,000-120,000.

■ Criterion Auctioneers (Islington, north London, and Corsham, Wiltshire) opens a Gloucester saleroom and has plans for new west London rooms.

■ According to figures supplied to ATG by nine London-based coins and medals specialists, it is revealed the total value of the London numismatic auction market rose to a record £62.2m in 2022. For the first time since 2016 Spink moved back to the top of the table with a 23% year-on-year increase in total sales to £16.9m.

■ The company Premier Art And Antiques Ltd, trading as 2Covet and Chelsea Antiques Fair, is placed into voluntary liquidation. It is announced that online dealer portal 2Covet, founded in 2019 by two dealers, will close.


■ LAPADA announces its joint venture with Stable Media Group to create a new fair in Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) scheduled for April 2024.

■ Hollywood film star Johnny Depp visits Lincolnshire’s Hemswell Antique Centres, arriving by helicopter on March 3 at around 4.30pm just before closing to avoid crowds.


Johnny Depp pictured at Hemswell Antique Centres.

■ More than 150 museums visit TEFAF Maastricht, many coming in large teams from institutions including The National Gallery of Washington, the National Gallery of London, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The fair, running from March 11-19, marks a return to normal for the event that held a shortened edition in summer 2022 after disruption due to the pandemic.

■ Christopher Bishop takes over Master Drawings New York. Christopher Bishop Fine Art, an Old Master, Modern and Contemporary art dealership in New York, buys the event which takes place across two dozen Upper East Side galleries in January each year. It was founded by art dealers Crispian Riley-Smith and Margot Gordon in 2006.


■ The National Portrait Gallery and Getty Museum jointly buy Sir Joshua Reynolds’ Portrait of Mai (Omai) after long-running discussions. The picture had been blocked from export by the government with a £50m price tag to keep it in the UK. The two institutions enter a joint ownership agreement and, in both locations, the public will be able to view the work for free.

■ Around 1600 dealers turn out to exhibit at the final IACF Festival of Antiques on Friday and Saturday of the Easter bank holiday on April 7-8. The two-day event has been held at the East of England Showground since 1999, with IACF taking over in 2019. A one-day event was first held there in 1972. However, the showground is no longer able to host large-scale outdoor events because of works for a housing development on the site.


A 13th century Mamluk (Egyptian or Syrian) manuscript on astronomy sells for a surprise £140,000 in south London. It came for sale as part of Roseberys’ Antiquities, Islamic and Indian Arts auction with a guide of £600-800 from a collection formed during the 1960s-70s.

■ The UK recovers its second-place spot in the worldwide league table of art and antiques sales, according to the latest Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2023, produced by Arts Economics founder Dr Clare McAndrew. The US remains top with sales by value increasing its share by two points year-on-year to 45%.

■ Historic dealership Mallett relaunches, with furniture specialist Rufus Bird to lead the firm. Mallett will operate as a decorative arts and furniture arm for owner, art consultancy and valuation firm Gurr Johns. Under this new guise it will become an adviser and agent to clients seeking to buy, sell, loan, conserve and research furniture and decorative art collections. It will no longer buy its own stock as a dealership.

■ Antiques expert, author and BBC Antiques Roadshow stalwart Judith Miller dies over the Easter weekend after a short illness.


The late Judith Miller.

She wrote more than 100 books on the subject of antiques and co-founded the Miller’s Antiques Price Guide, with her first husband Martin Miller, in 1979. She had recently been working on the forthcoming edition of the guide. Miller began collecting in the late 1960s and became one of the best-known antiques and collectables specialists in the country.



A copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, offered for £6.25m, is sold by Peter Harrington Rare Books. The volume is one of four Shakespeare folios the London firm exhibited at Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair (May 18-21), though it sold slightly before the event.

■ Hiscox Online Art Trade Report reveals that global online sales of art reached $10.8m in 2022, accounting for 15.9% of all art sales. A representative said that “the Covid-19 pandemic was a significant catalyst for the online market, boosting its value and size in a relatively short space of time. Although this level of growth was unsustainable it has proven extremely beneficial, instilling higher levels of trust and confidence among buyers.”

■ The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announces that it plans to extend the Ivory Act to include antique ivory items from walruses, narwhals, killer and sperm whales and hippopotamuses. The trade argues that items such as scrimshaw are popular for pre-1900 works only and do not perpetuate the demand for modern ivory.


An embroidered sampler by Janet Baird is hammered down for £7000 at Anderson & Garland. One of a group of Victorian and early 19th century samplers guided at £50-200 each, it included several clues about the identity of its maker such as an image of a grand home.

ATG celebrates the coronation of King Charles III with a feature on royal and coronation related objects. One reader spotted a Whitefriars Glass finger bowl in the feature and tracked it down on the stand of Mark West at the Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair, buying it for £2500.

■ A left-hand mitten worn by British Everest expedition leader Sir John Hunt in 1953 is bought at Hansons - by the owner of the right-hand mitten. Property surveyor Daniel Wallace, the winning bidder, is a mountaineer in his own right and climbed Everest on his third attempt in 2018.



This pair of Bow porcelain figures of a cockerel and hen, c.1760, sells at Dore & Rees in Frome. Estimated at £2000-3000, a US bidder buys them at a hammer price of £7200.

The Treasure House Fair, a new event launched to fill the gap left by the cancellation of Masterpiece, stages its inaugural edition from June 22-26 with around 50 dealers. It is the only major London summer fair, hosting mostly British dealers, and garners enough good feeling and sales to return next year.

■ A spate of jewellery-related crimes is reported, sparking concerns over violent gangs operating in markets and shops. Several robberies are reported, all carried out in similar ways and devastating the small businesses affected. One dealer credits ATG’s coverage for a ramping up of security by event organisers.

■ A portrait by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) makes the record for any work sold at auction in Europe. Dame mit Fächer (Lady with a Fan) is knocked down for £74m at Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary evening sale.

■ Dealers across the UK coordinate to stage summertime portrait exhibitions to mark the reopening of London’s National Portrait Gallery after extensive refurbishment.


■ A party is staged at the Parker Fine Art saleroom in Farnham, Surrey, to celebrate owner Buffy Parker’s 50 years in the art market. A longstanding dealer, he set up his own auction house in 2020.


A James Morisset gold and enamel freedom box and gold ‘victory’ medal awarded to William Waldegrave for actions at Cape St Vincent on February 14, 1797 is among the stand-out lots at Christie’s Exceptional sale. Estimated at £70,000- 100,000, the trio attracts many admirers as both a tour-de-force of English goldsmithing and a piece of naval history and sells to a phone bidder at £190,000.

■ A new auction record for the Wade factory is set by Potteries Auctions in Stoke-on-Trent when a monumental 3ft 10in (1.15m) high figure made for the 1951 Festival of Britain sells at £4200. The buyer is George Wade, the great-grandson of the firm’s founder Sir George Wade.

■ It is announced that Tribal Art London will be able to take place in person this autumn after the organisers of The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair step in with a venue. The ethnographic culture and tribal art event agrees to lease the mezzanine of Evolution London in Battersea Park when the Decorative fair returns in October.


An auction record is set for Helen Allingham (1848-1926) when Malvern, Worcestershire, saleroom Philip Serrell sells a signed watercolour of two children with their governess. Lessons makes £64,000.

■ New laws introduced under the Treasure Act take effect, meaning items more than 200 years old and containing any metal can be classified as ‘treasure’. Previously only objects that are at least 300 years old and made substantially of gold or silver, or which are found with artefacts of precious metals, could be declared ‘treasure’.

■ Events organiser IACF announces it is launching a new fair in the Midlands at the National Agricultural and Exhibition Centre in Stoneleigh, south of Coventry. Two dates are scheduled for 2024.


■ News emerges that The British Museum has lost a large group of jewellery and gems, dating from 1500BC to the 19th century, believed to have been taken over a long period of time by a senior staff member. The museum launches an investigation, dismisses the staff member and later issues details of some of the missing items on its website.

■ A single-lot auction conducted by sealed bids produces a record for a transfer printed pot lid. The best-preserved known example of the celebrated pot lid Bears Grease Manufacturer is bought by an English collector for £16,250 at Berkshire auction house Historical & Collectable.

■ Richard Beale, director of the London auction house Roma Numismatics, pleads guilty in a New York court to a series of charges in connection with unlawful sales of ancient coins. Among the charges he faced was falsifying the provenance of the rare Brutus Eid Mar-type gold aureus, struck shortly after the murder of Julius Caesar, that sold for £2.7m in London in October 2020 - an auction record for any classical coin at the time.

■ French auctioneer Pierre Cornette de Saint Cyr dies at the age of 84 on August 20. He founded the French auction house Cornette de Saint-Cyr in 1973, which he sold to Bonhams in 2022.

■ Auction house Noonans opens a branch in Canada, based to the south of Ottawa and under the management of Tanya Ursual, a numismatist and medal specialist who created, one of the first military source websites.



A recently discovered oil sketch by John Constable is offered in an auction at Martel Maides in St Peter Port, Guernsey on September 21 and sells for £200,000 to a private buyer from Guernsey. The 11½ x 9½in (29 x 24cm) painting depicts the back of Willy Lott’s house in Flatford, Suffolk and is inscribed June 1814. Research by Constable authority Anne Lyles traced the provenance back to the 19th century when it was owned by Constable’s grandson, Hugh Golding Constable.

The Winter Art and Antiques Fair Olympia announces that it is to hold a larger and longer staging this year. It will run for a full extra day, with longer opening hours, and will also move venue to the west London exhibition centre’s Grand Hall, running in the gallery above the Spirit of Christmas Fair.

■ Sotheby’s holds a series of celebrity sales of the collection of the late Freddie Mercury. A month-long viewing in the London saleroom is attended by 140,000 people. The evening auction takes over four hours to sell 59 lots, every one of which is applauded by the audience, raising a premium-inclusive total of £12.2m. Meanwhile, the library of modern first editions formed by the late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts is sold by Christie’s in London. The live auction realises a hammer total of £2.18m and sets 68 auction records.

■ London dealer Brendan Lynch from the Indian, Himalayan and Islamic Art, Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities dealership Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch is appointed as the new chairman of Asia Week New York.


An iron Age gold quarter stater discovered with a metal detector in March in a field in Hampshire offered for sale by Spink on September 28 carries letters revealing the name of a hitherto unknown Iron Age ruler, Esunteros. It goes on to sell for £17,000.

■ Sworders holds a sale on the premises at the Guinness family’s stately home, Elveden Hall, Suffolk, formerly the home of Duleep Singh (1838-93) the last maharajah of the Sikh Empire. The 440 lots of furnishings are consigned from the Guinness family’s homes, Elveden and Farmleigh in Dublin. Over 1000 people visit to view the auction and the sale raises a hammer total of £706,520.


■ The British Museum announces that it plans to digitally document its entire collection. The step comes in the light of the much-publicised theft of jewellery revealed in August. The museum estimates that it will take five years to ensure that everything is documented and available online.


A rare ceramic model of a cat by David Hockney makes £89,500 at Stacey’s in Chelmsford. It was given by the young artist in 1955 to Peter and Wendy Richards who offered him and a friend shelter in their home during bad weather when they were hitchhiking to London to view an exhibition. The price sets a new auction high for one of Hockney’s cat models, surpassing the £75,000 paid for another at Christie’s in June.

■ Exhibitors report strong results after the 11th staging of Frieze Masters held in Regent’s Park from October 11-15 with several sales topping the £1m mark. The fair introduces new categories such as furniture and other fields outside the traditional fine art remit and also redoubles its focus on female artists.

■ The auction record for a pair of chairs is toppled twice in rapid succession in New York at a Christie’s sale of Masterpieces from the Rothschild family. A pair of Louis XV gilt walnut fauteuils à la Reine by Louis Delanois sell for $3.6m (£3m), followed two minutes later by a pair of Louis XV white painted fauteuils from Madame du Barry’s Château at Louveciennes by the same maker that take $5.1m (£4.2m).


One of the earliest-known examples of northern European tin-glazed earthenware takes 130-times its estimate at Toovey’s in West Sussex as Dutch and UK bidders battle it out. Dated 1567, the 8¼in (21cm) diameter blue and white dish is hammered down for £39,000.

■ Demand for the works of French artist/ designers Les Lalannes shows no sign of abating. A new high for François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008) is set at Christie’s Paris when his Rhinocrétaire I sculpture is hammered down for €15.7m (£13.7m) or €18.3m including premium, doubling the previous auction record for the artist.


■ The number of antiques dealerships and art galleries in the UK has grown to 3645, an increase of more than 31% in a decade, according to The British Art Market in 2023, a report for the British Art Market Federation (BAMF) by Dr Clare McAndrew’s Arts Economics.


A royal armorial goblet by William Beilby, among the most celebrated pieces of glass ever produced in Britain, sells for a record £140,000 at Bonhams Bond Street.

■ PropStore of Rickmansworth achieves a hammer total of £10.4m for its four-day sale of entertainment memorabilia held at BAFTA in London’s Piccadilly.

ATG reveals that trade associations and most of their members are unaware of a government consultation on updating furniture fire safety regulations that closed the previous month. It has potential implications for the sale of post-1950 upholstered furniture.

■ A bicorne hat believed to have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte sells for €1.93m (including buyer’s premium) at Osenat in Fontainebleau near Paris, a record price for such an item.

■ A bottle of Macallan Adami 1926 sells for £1.75m at Sotheby’s in London, a record for a bottle of wine or spirits at an auction.


Dealer John Read Smith’s untimely death prompts stalwarts of the trade to join together to take a full-page advertisement in ATG No 2618 celebrating his life.

■ Cornishware collectors and dealers are warned to be aware of possible fakes on the market following the conviction of a couple for fraud. They had been changing the labels to make the items appear to be rare examples.

■ A sale at Phillips in London achieves two new records for studio pottery artists. A 1981 Footed bowl sets a record for Lucy Rie at £260,000. The black Cycladic Arrow from 1976 is hammered down at £510,000 which sets a new high for a cycladic form vessel by Hans Coper.



It is announced that fashion specialist Kerry Taylor of south London will auction a remarkable collection of clothing once owned by actress Elizabeth Taylor next year. It will include the famous Christian Dior couture Soirée à Rio dress she wore to the Oscars in 1961 when she won the best actress award, estimated at £60,000-100,000. The clothes were given away to one of her employees.

■ It is announced that dealer Peter Harrison has sold a recently reidentified portrait by 17th century painter Mary Beale (1633-99) to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston for a six-figure sum. The large oil on canvas depicts Gertrude Savile, Marchioness of Halifax (1641-1727). In December 2021 the picture came up for auction at a saleroom in south-east England, where it was catalogued as Circle of Henri Gascar (1635-1701), the sitter unidentified, when it made £3200.

■ A rare personal collection of items relating to Florence Nightingale, originally belonging to Eliza Francis ‘Fanny’ Pettit, her companion in later life, sells for £19,500 at London auction house Roseberys. It includes what are thought to be among the last photographs taken of Nightingale, informal snapshots taken in c.1910 by Pettit herself.

■ Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s global president, stands on the rostrum for the final time as an auctioneer as he takes the Old Masters sale on December 7. He steps down from his role after 38 years at the firm and will become an independent art adviser.


An impressive result emerges at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in Exeter when a travel album titled The Ramblings and Adventures of an Indian Officer is knocked down at a sensational £135,000. Meticulously assembled by a soldier named Mark Batt Tanner who travelled in India and Egypt from 1852-85, it includes over 150 original watercolours - a third of them full folio - plus around 50 albumen print photographs taken by Tanner at sights in Cairo and Giza in the 1850s.