Fairs Market United Kingdom

Masterpiece fair turns to Asia

This year’s London event will include a pavilion of highlights from the forthcoming Hong Kong Fine Art Asia fair, and vice versa

Masterpiece London 2012. Photo: Luke Sheridan

The Masterpiece London fair, which hosts its fourth edition this summer (26 June-3 July), is linking up with Hong Kong’s Fine Art Asia fair (4-7 October). This year’s London event will include a Hong Kong Pavilion, with highlights supplied by the Asia fair’s galleries, and, in turn, the Hong Kong fair will present European works from Masterpiece’s roster.

The partnership is the latest in a string of important new ventures in Asia, a continent whose (albeit cooling) economic growth is proving paramount to the art market. Nazy Vassegh, who was appointed as chief executive to Masterpiece London earlier this year, says that “there is new wealth emerging all the time; it’s important to follow your collector base”. Calvin Hui, the director of the Hong Kong fair, says that its European Pavilion in turn will help “to take fine art collecting in Asia to the next level”.

At the end of March, the venerable European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf) announced plans to branch out to Beijing, in a surprise partnership with the auction house Sotheby’s. And just this week, Christie’s made its first major move into Asia by securing a coveted license to operate a “Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise” in Shanghai, meaning that it did not need to join forces with a Chinese partner. Rival firm Sotheby’s previously announced a link-up with the state-owned Beijing GeHua Cultural Development Group in Beijing. Both firms are committed to hosting their first auctions in the mainland later this year. Meanwhile, Art Basel opens its first fair in Hong Kong next month (23-26 May).

Masterpiece London hopes to capitalise on the influx of international visitors to the capital for the Wimbledon tennis tournament, as well as collectors coming for Old Master season in early July. The multi-discipline, heavily-vetted fair has become known for including luxury goods other than art (this year’s brands include Maserati, Riva and Montblanc), although these only form a small proportion of its full exhibitor list. Fine Art Asia is a respected, but more hodgepodge, event with a wide range of specialties including Asian arts, Old Masters, jewellery, watches, silver and rare books.

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