Art Basel’s Parent Company Unloads Its Art Düsseldorf Stake to Two Executives With a Vast Portfolio of Asian Art Fairs

The owners of Taipei Dangdai and other major Asian fairs are expanding into Europe.

The venue of Art Düsseldorf at Areal Böhler. Photo: courtesy of Areal Böhler.

MCH Group, the parent company of Art Basel, has sold its 25.1 percent share in Art Düsseldorf to entrepreneurs Sandy Angus and Tim Etchells. The duo, who founded Art HK and also own stakes in Taipei Dangdai, the India Art Fair, Art Central Hong Kong, and Photofairs Shanghai, may bring an influx of Asian-Pacific collectors and dealers to the German fair in the future.

The sale to Angus and Etchells—under the auspices of their respective companies, Angus Montgomery (HK) Ltd and TFI Ltd—was split evenly. Angus also acquired an additional 15 percent from Art Düsseldorf’s current majority owners, Walter Gehlen and Andreas Lohaus. No acquisition price was disclosed.

“I went to see the first Düsseldorf show and I loved what I saw,” Angus told artnet News. “It’s a great venue, and Düsseldorf has very strong cultural ties with museums and other organizations throughout Germany. I’m very impressed by the quality and the feel of it as a contemporary art fair,” he said, adding that reported sales were also strong.

The ownership of the fair is now split evenly among a total of four shareholders, he said. Asked if there are changes he would like to implement, Angus said he wants to bring in more sponsorship and increase attendance. “We have a good reputation for delivering visitors—not necessarily buyers or collectors—but larger crowds to convey that this is something young and aspiring collectors” will want to attend, he said. Düsseldorf marks his first European fair.

Angus told the Art Newspaper that while applications are already in for the third edition of the fair, held from November 15 to 17, the organizers may leave open a space or two for Asian galleries. The hope is that the partnership will encourage German galleries and collectors to participate in Angus and Etchells’ Asian fairs, and vice versa. Angus has also pledged to be more involved in the fair’s operations than MCH, which took a relatively hands-off approach.

MCH, which operates Art Basel fairs in Basel, Miami, and Hong Kong, made a short-lived decision to pursue a portfolio of regional art fairs in 2016. The Swiss conglomerate said it was expanding by pursuing stakes in fairs including Art SG, a new fair in Singapore, the India Art Fair, and the aforementioned Düsseldorf fair. It also added Masterpiece London to its roster.

However, late last year, MCH abruptly reversed course, announcing “a profound transformation” by dramatically downshifting its ambitions “for the necessary stabilization of the company.” MCH withdrew from Art SG and is looking to find a buyer for its stake in the India Art Fair. Angus is currently making a bid for that fair as well, which he currently co-owns. MCH maintained its stake in Masterpiece.

Angus and Etchells “are well known and committed to the international trade fair and art market,” MCH said in a statement. “We are delighted that with them we have found two extremely competent new partners for Art Düsseldorf,” board member Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard added.

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