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Masterpiece London proves its prominence with record visitor numbers and strong sales
A George II carved wood and giltwood ‘octopus’ side table, attributed to Matthias Lock, one of the finest English designers of the 18th century. Photo: Courtesy of Mallett.

LONDON.- Masterpiece London saw a rise in visitor figures ending with an overall increase of 20% on last year’s attendance. Just under 34,000 people in total came to the fair to enjoy the breath-taking calibre of art, antiques and unique collector’s items for sale.

Many exhibitors reported strong sales this year throughout the fair, and across all categories supporting the ethos of cross-collecting, a core distinction of the fair. Notable patrons, collectors and museum directors were apparent and active during the fair.

Spotted browsing as well as purchasing have been representatives from the Rijksmusuem, Wallace Collection, Peabody Essex Museum, Legion of Honour - Fine Arts Museum San Francisco, Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate, The Fitzwilliam Museum, The Louvre, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Yale Centre for British Art, Getty, Sir John Soane Museum, Dresden were among the museum interest. The British Museum bought ‘Grid 21’ by Hadieh Shafie from Leila Heller Gallery.

Philip Hewat-Jaboor, Masterpiece London Chairman said “I am delighted at the response from both exhibitors and collectors this year. It was a very enjoyable 8 days at the heart of the London season, where serious business was done, new relationships formed and great collections enhanced. I was particularly encouraged to see representatives from such a large number of both American and European museums. Attendance at Masterpiece London is now mandatory for all those with an interest in the arts, private and professional.”

Collectors came from far and wide with many exhibitors commenting on increased Russian, Asian, French and German attendance this year. Of particular note were Ellie Cullman, Scott Snyder, Rose Tarlow, Evgeny Lebedev, Steve Cohen, Ronald Lauder, Elena Lojevsky, Tatyana Akhmedova, Catherine Petitgas, Jolana Leinson and Maya Rasamny, Maryam Eisler, Yolana Leinson, Michelle d’Souza, Mrs Qi, Esther Leong and Ma Weidu.

Exhibitor Nick Mullany had an exceptional fair and commented “A number of our clients expressed the view that this edition of Masterpiece London was the highest standard and best so far and that they much preferred the refocus this year on the antique rather than luxury aspect of the event. We were delighted to see a number of our continental clients who made the trip from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain as well as those from the United States and Hong Kong. This suggests that Masterpiece is becoming a destination fair coinciding as it does with the important mid-year auction week and London Art week.”

Sales were robust every day with a Sculpture by Emily Young for circa £120,000 (The Fine Art Society), an Egyptian carved limestone mask late Dynastic period for £180,000 (Rupert Wace Ancient Art) and an important set of 12 chairs from China (Mallett) all finding homes within minutes of the door’s opening.

Further details of note include:

· Les Enluminures sold 20 rings and 3 manuscripts.

· Wartski sold the historic necklace featuring Marie Antoinette's pearls as well as 10 other items, with much interest in the Fabergé clocks and 'Farouk' collection.

· Symbolic & Chase sold 7 pieces – including pieces by Cartier, Bulgari and a pair of earrings by Sabba featuring pink sapphires and diamonds in the region of £250,000. The Mary Tudor pearl attracted interest from at least 2 museums as well as private collectors, a number of offers were made and these are in negotiation.

· John Carlton-Smith had a great fair, selling eight pieces including a 17th century Dan Quare clock, a bracket clock by Joseph Knibb, and a 17th century marquetry bracket clock and lantern clock, and an 18th century miniature by Simon de Chambre.

· Dickinson reported much interest in their new-to-market piece by Anish Kapoor, as well as several sales including a Warhol for a six-figure sum.

· As mentioned above, Philip Mould sold The Cholmendeley Hilliard miniature, 1590, for £200,000 and a drawing by Augustus John. They also sold seven more miniatures: Sir Nathaniel Dance Portrait of Baron North sold together with Samuel John Stump Portrait of an Actor to a Hong Kong collector for £70,000 and a Russian miniature of 'Peter the Great' sold to a Russian buyer for £58,000.

· The Fine Art Society was thrilled to sell their Emily Young centre piece on the first evening to a new client for circa £120,000. Eight other pieces have sold including John Armstrong 1893-1973, Emily Young 1951 'Persephone, 2013, Chris Levine 1970 'She’s Light (Pure)', Harold James Youngman circa 1930 'Faunesse', Anne Redpath ' Still life: Flowers in a vase' 1952, Frederick Cayley Robinson ' Off to the war' 1918, John Knox 'View of Glasgow Fair; 1832 .

· Osborne Samuel sold works by Henry Moore, Keith Vaughan, Lynn Chadwick and David Bomberg.

· Robert Bowman sold two sculptures on the opening day to a client they reconnected with at the fair – a bronze by Kenneth Armitage 1953 for £75,000 and Henry Moore 'Head of Horse' 1982 for £35,000.

· Trinity House Paintings sold an important picture by Levy-Dhurmer of Venice in 1917.

· Geoffrey Diner who won the best stand award is currently considering offers on ‘Puzzle Portrait’ by Roy Lichtenstein, 1978.

· Leila Heller Gallery sold a major piece to the British Museum - Hadieh Shafie 'Grid 20' 2013, as well as four other pieces: Markus Grigorian 'Desert', 1972, for US $ 50,000, Shirin Neshat 'All Demons Flee from Women of Allah' series, 1995, for US$ 35,000 and Serge Pollakoff 'Composition' for €60,000.

· Tomasso Brothers Fine Art sold 18th century marble bust of Emperor Caracalla and a much admired 18th century marble bust of Young Commodus, which was acquired by an American private collector (asking price in the region of £95,000) and was formerly in the collection of Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood (1882-1947) of Harewood House, Yorkshire.

· Robbig Munchen was very happy to sell to serious Meissen porcelain collectors including Johann Joachim Kaendler works, The Harlequin Family and The Indiscreet Harlequin (c 1740).

· Sebastian + Barquet sold three Feliciano Bejar Magiscopias to a New York decorator.

· Based Upon sold their Bronze Fragmented Crack Coffee Table for £ 65,000 and ‘British Isles’ for £25,000.

· Gordon Watson, specialists in 20th century furniture, objects and lighting sold 13 pieces including a stained and polished dining table by Andre Mercier, a mirror by Fontana Arte, a green and red onyx vase by Mangiarotti, a pair of walnut slipper chairs by Robsjohn Gibbings, a glass ceiling light by Venini.

· Japonesque have sold all of their glass works and had a visit from Victoria & Albert curators.

· Robert Young was pleased to sell his majestic Preston Lion, which once stood on the roof of the Port Admiral Pub in Preston to an American collector.

· Anthony Outred Antiques, a newcomer to the fair, has sold three pieces to an international museum.

· Ronald Phillips reported a spectacular fair, selling around a dozen pieces for over £100,000 each. These included a George II mahogany breakfront bookcase attributed to William Vile, a George I gesso mirror, a George III commode probably by Pierre Langlois, a regency circular rosewood bookcase by Gillows, a Victorian ormolu and satinwood kidney desk, an Irish George II bottle carrier and an exceptional pair of George II mahogany side chairs from the collection of Percival Griffiths.

· Adrian Sassoon sold over 50 pieces including a Felicity Aylieff vase and works by Hiroshi Suzuki, Toshya Ogama and Junko Mori.

New elements to the fair this year included the magnificent Sculpture Walk with works including a towering Chillida sculpture last seen in Britain at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a cement truck by Wim Delvoye and a linear sculpture by Xu Bing. Other internationally acclaimed artists featured were Barber Osbergy and Joanna Vasconcelos whose twin towering blue Champagne (2012) work of champagne bottles, metallized thermo lacquered iron, ultra bright LEDs, electric 2xcomponents 940x496cm either side of the entrance to the fair were universally admired.

Also attracting much interest was the first Hong Kong Pavilion showcasing a selection of art, antiques and design to celebrate China’s heritage. The Pavilion included highlights supplied by Hong Kong’s Fine Art Asia fair’s galleries and was supported by an event with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London, which brought Asian collectors and media to the fair. This was well received and sales included a pair of pen and ink drawings ‘Who to sit with (I)’ & ‘Who to sit with (II)’ by Mr. Lin Guocheng, £50,000 and two magnificent installations by Mr. Lo Chi Wing which sold for over £260,000.

This year the Midsummer Party was in support of Marie Curie Cancer Care and raised a staggering £840,000 under the mantle of Committee Chair Heather Kerzner and her team. This is a new record for the charity evening at Masterpiece London and attracted many of London’s great and good including Ronnie and Sally Wood, Tanya Bryer, Donna Air, Hugh Grant, Sarah Ferguson and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Sol Campbell, Nicky Candy and Holly Valance, Brent Hoberman, Amanda Wakeley, India Hicks, Nicky Haslam, Geordie Greg and Caprice.

Other high profile visitors and collectors throughout the fair included: Eddie Redmayne, Bryan Ferry, Zandra Rhodes, Princess Eugenie, Princess Beatrice, Uma Thurman, Anna Wintour, Sarah Jessica-Parker, William Jackson (Chairman of Pret a Manger), Duke of Kent, Arpad Busson, Princess Michael of Kent and Barber Osgerby.

Nazy Vassegh Masterpiece London’s CEO commented “The calibre of works offered at Masterpiece London this year was, across the board, exceptionally high. This strength was reflected in the increased attendance and the presence of many important collectors. I would like to thank the exhibitors and our partners for the huge effort they put into making this an exceptional year, and look forward to 2014 to build on the current success. In the meantime we will be working on a variety of international events to help shape and promote the fair around the world including the European Masterpieces Pavilion at Fine Art Asia 3-7 Oct 2013.”

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