Masterpiece, the London-based art fair offering a mix of modern art, antiquities, and jewelry, announced on Friday that it will expand to Hong Kong. The move had been anticipated since the fair received an injection of capital from Art Basel parent company MCH Group.
Masterpiece Chairman Philip Hewat-Jaboor told Artsy’s Nate Freeman during the fair’s London edition last June:
When we open elsewhere, which is our plan, the most important thing is that it’s a reflection of the ethos of the fair—the cross collecting mix, that is our DNA. [...] It’s really important that one absorbs a certain amount of locality as to where one is—we’re not going to go somewhere and just plunk ourselves down.
The MCH acquisition in December 2017 sparked speculation that the fair juggernaut could be launching a full-scale challenge to The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) fairs in Maastricht and New York. But Masterpiece’s initial expansion will be more modest, with The Art Newspaper reporting that the fair will take a “pavilion” of some 20 to 25 exhibitors this October within the existing Hong Kong fair, Fine Art Asia.
This cautious approach follows cuts to the MCH Group’s art fair portfolio in November, when the conglomerate announced that it would abandon a still relatively nascent initiative to launch regional fairs around the globe. Instead, it said it would be focusing on the three Art Basel fairs in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong; Masterpiece; Design Miami; watch fair Baselworld; and car fair Grand Basel. The cuts were largely attributed to losses at Baselworld, which former CEO René Kamm estimated could exceed $100 million.