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Strong sales at BADA Fair confirm signs of market recovery
St. Petersburg commode from the Earl of Craven estate. Sold to a private collector by Thomas Coulborn & Sons.

LONDON.- Spring sunshine, record crowds and strong sales marked the opening day of the BADA Fair, the only internationally renowned event exclusive to members of the British Antique Dealers’ Association, on Wednesday 19th March. Within the first two hours Thomas Coulborn & Sons sold their star piece, a St. Petersburg Commode from the Earl of Craven’s Estate with an asking price of £245,000, to a private buyer in London and continued to sell a further fifteen items on the first day. At the end of the Fair, the consensus was that this had been the best BADA Fair for some years.

“The opening of the Fair was incredibly busy to the point where we could hardly move on the stand!” commented Laura Bordignon, Chairman of the Fair. “The quality of visitors seems to improve year on year”. This sentiment was echoed by many of the exhibitors who commented on the knowledge, commitment, wealth and cosmopolitan nature of visitors to the Fair. The overall visitor figure was 18,500, 5.7% above the 2013 Fair.

Each year the Fair develops initiatives to broaden its client base. To address the interior design market, the BADA Fair teamed up with House & Garden and invited four leading interior designers to select their favourite items from the Fair. In addition, the BADA Fair’s newly appointed Marketing Consultant in Russia brought new international clients to the Fair who bought pieces.

Furniture is always well represented at the Fair: this year produced some strong sales and there was talk of a resurgence of interest in English furniture. Christopher Buck (stand A49) commented that, “Now, more than ever, people are not just expressing interest in English furniture but buying it”. J. Roger (Antiques) (stand A8) reported the sale of four major pieces including a Sheraton period cross-banded sofa table and an early 19th-century drum table with original leather, both with an asking price of over £10,000, on the first day to a new international client. Lennox Cato Antiques (stand C12) reported a very strong Fair overall. He was delighted to sell one of the items chosen by the House & Garden designers, Bill Bennette, for the Interior Designers Selection – an 18th-century Italian settee on eight legs that was bought by a top-flight interior designer for his personal collection. Holly Johnson Antiques (stand C40) reported the sale of a Danny Lane glass table and a set of eight Memphis First chairs by Michele De Lucchi with an asking price of £9,000 to an international client resident in Chelsea. Fair stalwarts, Wakelin & Linfield (stand C4) reported strong sales of country furniture: sales included a late 18th-century ash comb-back Windsor chair with a thick burr saddle seat, c. 1780, which had an asking price of around £8,000. They also sold a good Tavern table with an asking price of over £15,000.

“The dealers have an increased confidence in the market which could be seen in the exceptional quality of the stock that they brought to the Fair and was reflected in the very strong sales this year”, said Gillian Craig, the Fair’s director.

Pictures from all periods sold well. Sutcliffe Galleries (stand C18) were delighted to sell their catalogue piece, a painting by Jerry Barrett (1824-1906) entitled Lady Mary Wortley Montague in Turkey, which had an asking price of £180,000 to a private UK buyer. Claudia Hill of Ellison Fine Art (stand A42) commented that this “has been my best BADA Fair since 2006”. Her sales included a pair of miniatures by George Englehart (1750-1829) of Captain Hopkins and his wife, c. 1808, which had an asking price of £36,000, and were fresh to the market having come from a private collection where they had been for many generations. The Taylor Gallery (stand B4) sold a good number of paintings by Edward Seago, (1910), Sir Alfred Munnings (1910-1974) and Sir Gerald Kelly (1879-1972) including Bank Holiday, Hyde Park c. 1960s by Edward Seago, which had an asking price of £75,000. Strachan Fine Art (stand B62) made a number of sales to new international clients and also sold an Anglo-Flemish portrait of a nobleman, probably Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, c. 1585 to an existing client for an undisclosed sum.

Modern pictures also proved popular. Godson & Coles (stand B38) sold an abstract piece entitled Black, Yellow and White, 1960 by Merlyn Evans (1910-1973), which had an asking price of £50,000. Gray Modern & Contemporary Art (stand A6) were delighted to sell amongst other items, two of their major fashion drawings by Christian Dior for £10,000 each. Haynes Fine Art of Broadway (stand C38) reported that they sold eight paintings by Tony Karpinski (b. 1965) on the first day, followed by many more on the following days, and needed to re-stock their stand. Many of their sales were made to new clients.

Early needlework specialists, Witney Antiques (stand B68) sold two of their main pieces including a museum quality, rare and highly decorative three-dimensional raised work panel, English c. 1660. Other textiles also faired well. Farnham Antique Carpets (stand A38) reported that they had a number of designers sourcing pieces for clients and expected considerable follow-up sales; sales at the Fair included a Persian narrow runner from c. 1900. Gray Modern & Contemporary Art sold Skaill (Yellow), 1959 by William Scott made in jacquard woven wool.

Jewellery is always popular at the Fair. New exhibitors, Johnson Walker (stand B21) sold a fine Edwardian piece, which had an asking price of £50,000 and commented that, “there is a trend towards signed wearable jewellery, which can also act as an investment”. Sandra Cronan (stand A68) reported strong sales and commented on the high number of Russian visitors and said that they had gained three new Russian clients. Antique silver and historical medals specialist, Sanda Lipton commented that “this has been my best BADA Fair, and I have done twenty-one of them!” Amongst other things she sold a Victorian tipstaff c. 1886, which had been owned by the officer who was appointed by the Lord Chief Justice.

Ceramics also produced one of the early sales of the Fair. A grotesque Martin Brothers demon c. 1900, was sold within the first hour of the Fair for over £60,000 by Kinghams Art Pottery (stand B7) while AD Antiques (stand A37) also reported strong sales of work by Fenella Elms to a designer buying for a US client. Work by Peter Beard and Heidi Warr also proved highly popular at AD Antiques, and seventy percent of all sales were to new clients. Glass specialists, Marris Antiques (stand B58) had solid sales overall and were delighted to sell 19 glasses to one client dating from c. 1810.

Sequinned showgirls selling raffle tickets proved a highlight of The Charity Gala on the opening evening of the Fair in aid of The Neuroblastoma Society, which attracted around 200 supporters. The programme of talks, an established feature of the Fair, was as successful as ever, with each talk fully booked prior to the opening of the Fair.

The profile of the BADA Antiques & Fine Art Fair has grown and with it the profile of its visitors. High profile visitors to the fair included HRH The Duke of Kent; The Duke of Devonshire; Bob Geldof and his girlfriend Jeanne Marine, performer Holly Valance; the acclaimed photographer, Harry Benson; the actress Julie Christie; Arsenal player Theo Walcott; Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew; Made in Chelsea cast member, Mark Francis; collector Charles Saatchi and companion Trinny Woodall and the gardening guru, Alan Titchmarsh.

The BADA Fair 2015 will take place from 18-24 March 2015.

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