If the testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh weighed on EXPO Chicago last week
, political tensions were checked at the door for this year’s Frieze London
, its 16th edition.
The fair coincided with the annual conference of the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, but Brexit worries and the loss of thousands of City banking jobs to Frankfurt, Dublin, and Paris hardly dented the buying within Frieze’s tents.
If anything, said Thaddaeus Ropac, Brexit could be a slight boost to the art market, especially for dealers like him, with locations throughout Europe. He said many of his clients are moving from London, but it hasn’t had a negative impact on their art buying.
“Quite the opposite—all the people who are getting new houses in Paris now need to get new art for their houses,” Ropac joked.
In all seriousness, Ropac said, he is hopeful that Brexit will also present an opportunity
for the U.K. to become a less-regulated art market, more along the lines of the U.S., which has no import duties on art and no artist resale royalty. He recently made this point to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who visited his Salzburg gallery, along with a number of other heads of state, during a Brexit meeting in September.
He said he was “amazed” that Prime Minister May appeared to be aware of the U.K. art market’s dominant position in Europe. The U.K. currently accounts for 60% of European art sales by value, according to
arts economist Clare McAndrew.
“London has a huge chance to make its position even stronger, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised the Prime Minister was much aware of it,” Ropac said. The opposite approach—closing the borders with Europe, would present significant challenges for his gallery, which also has two locations in Paris.