Art Basel’s MCH Group Extends Its Empire to the UK, Taking Over the Masterpiece London Fair

Swiss company's global expansion continues with power play in Frieze Art Fair's home town

The Royal Hospital Chelsea, 2017. Photo: Andy Barnham. Courtesy Masterpiece London.

MCH Group, the parent company of Art Basel, has added to its global art fair portfolio with yet another acquisition: Masterpiece London, the art, antiquities and luxury goods fair that erects its “neo-classical” marquee on the lawns of the Royal Chelsea Hospital at the end of June.

Masterpiece’s ninth edition is due to run from June 28 until July 4, 2018, so it will follow closely on the heels of the MCH Group’s mother-of-all fairs, Art Basel (June 14–17, 2018). The Swiss company, which has acquired a majority shareholding of 67.5%, is confident that there is enough space–and demand–for everyone to get their share of the pie. The summertime fair, which typically draws around 40,000 visitors, runs for a week–much longer than other fairs under the company umbrella. Masterpiece pulled through with a successful fair last year, amid concerns surrounding Brexit.

Lucie Kitchener, Managing Director at Masterpiece London. Photo: Gianluca De Girolamo.

Lucie Kitchener is at the helm as managing director, backed by a ten-strong team. Kitchener will be responsible for the new Business Unit within MCH Group under the leadership of CEO René Kamm. Masterpiece’s chairman Philip Hewat-Jaboor will retain his position. Kitchener joined Masterpiece London earlier this year in January, having previously held senior roles in the luxury-goods sector.

“Masterpiece London is the perfect match for MCH Group’s ‘Global Collector Events Strategy,'” Kamm says in a statement. In case you’re wondering what that means, the Global Collector Events Strategy is one part of the Swiss company’s four-part corporate strategy, which includes Art Basel, Design & Regional Art Fairs, and Grand Basel (a new endeavor in the automotive sector).

Whether Masterpiece London will prove to be a problem for Frieze (which takes place every October) remains to be seen. The two fairs have co-existed for some years now, occurring in different seasons and enjoying slightly different collector bases. (Masterpiece London’s branding and the fair’s look-and-feel is more TEFAF Maastricht than Frieze Masters.)


An aisle shot of Masterpiece London 2017 featuring Dickinson and Offer Waterman. Photo: Chris Allerton. Courtesy Masterpiece London.

Already this year, MCH Group organised first editions as partners in India Art Fair in February and Art Düsseldorf just a few weeks ago, two first steps in their regional fairs portfolio. They also gained a controlling stake of India-based fair, acquiring co-ownership with a 60.3 % holding, while they are a minority holder in Düsseldorf with 25.1%. In 2016, the company launched Art Basel Cities, a multi-year partnership program that launched with its first partner, Buenos Aires in November.

According to the MCH Group website, there will be even more of these fairs cropping up across the US, Asia and the Middle East. The specific locations are expected to be unveiled in the near future.

Impenetrable Room by Iván-Navarro commissioned by Paul Kasmin Gallery, courtesy Masterpiece London. Photo: Andy Barnham.


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