My Fair Lady

Imagine the pages of Robb Report tumbling out into an exhibition – gleaming displays of all that’s rare in art, fine wine, cars and  jewellery  - and you have some idea of Masterpiece London’s ethos. (3 Aug' 11)

The Fair took place recently, reporting  visitor increase of nearly 60%  on last year - with millions of pounds in sales accrued during its week-long tenure at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Sat Bal spoke to Masterpiece London Fair director, Nicola Winwood and to Quintessentially’s Clare Gardner for the inside view on this year’s Masterpiece London.


Masterpiece London Fair Director

              Nicola Winwood


Sat Bal - Talk us through your role in staging this year’s event


Nicola Winwood - My position is Fair director and I am ultimately responsible for the delivery of the entire event. I work closely with the Board of Masterpiece London to deliver their vision of each fair. I oversee everything including advertising to vetting and also liaise closely with our exhibitors throughout the year. I work with a skilled team and external consultants to achieve the finished article. I work closely with all internal and external team members to ensure everything is delivered to the highest standard.

Tomasso Brothers - Marbles Pair  ' Object of the Year'

SB - How has the event evolved from last year's debut?

NW - The Fair has increased in size this year including more international exhibitors and a wider breadth of disciplines with the additions of tribal art and a stronger representation of the Old Masters and photography this year. We had 152 dealers this year up from 118 last year and we are pleased to say there was a 58% increase in visitor numbers on last year. We had a private view for Oprah Winfrey before the fair opened. I was also thrilled to see internationally renowned high-profile guests including Sir Elton JohnUma Thurman and Tom Ford enjoying the event. The Masterpiece Midsummer Party in aid of CLIC Sargent also attracted a high calibre of visitors and the party raised over £450,000 for the charity.


Tom Ford and Tim Jefferies: “I think Masterpiece was as much a joy for the exhibitor as it was for the visitors.  We were all able to enjoy an eclectic mix of art, furniture and the finer things in life.”

SB - How do you see the health of the global luxury sector in the current economy?

NW - According to the recent World Wealth Report 2011 by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, 2010 saw many global financial markets performing well following the losses in 2008 and 2009. The report also cites that the number of high net worth individuals and their wealth grew moderately last year and they looked to invest in‘investments of passion’.  
This was certainly borne out by our experience at Masterpiece London this year.  Not only did we have an increased number of dealers wanting to exhibit at the fair, we also saw a 58% increase in the number of visitors to the fair and received feedback of continued sales throughout the week.  One clock dealer reported his best fair sales ever during the Masterpiece London Preview – and he has been exhibiting at fairs for over 40 years.

Masterpiece London is the ideal place for HNWIs to invest in items which are aesthetically and emotionally appealing and we believe the fair answers this demand for ‘investments of passion’.  

The one-of-a-kind Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé exclusively created for Masterpiece  featured custom-made leather luggage and a one-off Asprey jewellery box fitted into the glove compartment.


SB  - Any particular challenges, creative or logistical, with the execution of this year's event?  

NW - We had a new home this year – the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea - so having not built at that venue before, we were always going to come across things that were unexpected, but we were delighted with the outcome.  It is a great site for us, in the perfect location. We had particular fun getting the WWII Spitfire from its home to Chelsea and putting it together in the marquee. It was such a spectacle and one of the most talked about pieces at the fair, so it was worth every bit of the effort taken to get it there.

SB - Was a bigger budget available this year for the event production infrastructure?

NW - As last year’s fair was the inaugural event, our aim was to build on it for the second fair. Our focus was to learn and improve on the success of 2010’s fair with more international representation and a wider breadth of exhibitors to generate even more interest. We were so pleased to see visitor numbers soaring to over 28,000 this year and millions of pounds worth of sales taking place!

Hamiltons Gallery was the ‘Stand of the Year’ 


SB  - What provisions are made for your more illustrious guests and do you actively court those in the public eye?

NW - As standard we have full 24-hour security and Royals are offered a special access channel if required. The vast majority of our high-profile guests are clients or friends of our exhibitors and the Board.

SB  - Would a dealer from, say, Birmingham be wise to invest in the (circa £40K) exhibitor's fee or do you view Masterpiece as more of a London offering?

NW - We had 152 dealers this year versus 118 in 2010 and 28,347 visitors - a 58% increase on our inaugural year. Masterpiece London welcomes applications from dealers from all over the UK and indeed the world to take a stand at the fair. It provides a fantastic platform from which to showcase to high-profile guests, important collectors and royalty from across the globe.

Vivienne Westwood at the Fair


SB - Is the summer timing of the event important?

NW - Absolutely, London in June is very much a focus for the art market, and with Wimbledon on the summer season calendar as well, it makes for a buzzing time in the capital.

SB - What were your personal highlights at this year's Masterpiece?

NW - It has to be the Masterpiece London-branded Rolls-Royce, Hamiltons Gallery’s stunning stand, which was awarded ‘Stand of the Year’, and especially the photograph of Marilyn Monroe , the Tomasso Brothers’ sculptures, which won ‘Object of the Year’, and of course the honour of a visit from Prince Harry!

QUINTESSENTIALLY at Masterpiece London

Quintessentially's stand at Masterpiece London

Clare Gardner represented Quintessentially as the event’s official concierge partner and gave us some insight into her Masterpiece week.


SB - How many exhibitions does Q support/exhibit at annually - and why Masterpiece?

CG Masterpiece is one of the most respected events in the industry and we’re proud to be working alongside it. Quintessentially offers its concierge services to only a select number of high end exhibitions annually.

SB - What did your role of official concierge partner involve?

CG Day-to-day needs like restaurant bookings, car bookings, flight bookings, hotel arrangements, arranging couriers etc across London, general assistance at the Fair in any capacity they needed. We had a stand at the event so we also spent time with people explaining the many Quintessentially services.

SB -  Which aspects of the Quintessentially offering were you publicising at the event?

CG - We were publicising our main concierge service and explaining the different levels of membership. Quintessentially Driven were also exposed to a new market as they did all the driving for the discerning attendees.

SB - How strong (or otherwise) did you find leads and prospects at the fair this year?

CG Hugo and I got some strong leads - over 100 of them – Hugo sold several memberships on-site and there was substantial interest from those we spoke to who were amazed at the global reach of the company and what we’ve fulfilled in the past for our members.

SB – What did you think of the new venue at South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea?

CG - It was absolutely beautiful

SB - Any personal highlights?

CG Celeb spotting: Elton JohnVivienne WestwoodEddie JordanJimmy CarrPatsy Kensit and many more. Prince Harry paid a visit on the Friday as well.


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