The exterior of Masterpiece London 2015, with ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ by Richard Hudson, represented by Leila Heller Gallery. Image credit Deniz Karagulle.

The Preview Day of the sixth edition of Masterpiece London ended with reports of record visitor numbers and strong sales across the board. The Fair draws collectors, curators, and designers from all over the world who view and purchase exceptional works of art spanning over 4,000 years of art history. This year the Fair welcomed a record 8,900 visitors on its opening day to the stunning Thames side location of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, an increase of over 26% on last year.

"Opening day has proved better than ever!" said Raffaello Tomasso, at Tomasso Brothers Fine Art (Stand C2). "Visitors have loved the stand," added Dino Tomasso, "and we've met an enormous number of new contacts." Amongst several opening day sales was a Franco-Italian early C19th marble bust of Pyrrhus depicted as the Greek god Ares, sold for a price in the region of £100,000. 

Strong sales were reported across the board including the sale of the prime piece at Rupert Wace Ancient Art (Stand C21), Hygiea for a six figure sum. Symbolic & Chase (Stand C7) sold an important diamond and ruby Boucheron cuff for a seven figure sum and Koopman Rare Art (Stand C30), silver specialists sold their fair highlight The Great Seals of the Queen’s Bench, 1838.

Modern British has performed particularly well with a previously unknown work by Henry Moore, a lead Helmet, 1950, discovered by Osborne Samuel (Stand D24) and sold to a private Canadian collector who flew in especially for the Fair. Richard Green (Stand D26) got off to a good start, including the sale of a fine painting by L.S. Lowry and Dickinson (Stand D2) sold works by Chagall, Miró and Rodin on Preview Day. Robertaebasta (Stand B42) were delighted with the opening day achieving many sales including an important work by Alighiero Boetti, 1988. The Tom Scott collection of clocks offered by Carter Marsh & Co (Stand D11) achieved lots of attention with the Medici Tompion selling for £4.5million and a further 5 long case clocks taking the total to an “astonishing” £8million. In the decorative arts Ronald Phillips (Stand D6) sold The Castle Howard  mirrors, a set of four George II giltwood mirrors, circa 1740, and Robert Young Antiques (Stand C11) got off to a flying start with much of their stock selling within only a few hours of the fair opening.

From left to right: Petra Ecclestone, James Stunt and Tamara Ecclestone with their children; Nazy Vassegh (CEO of Masterpiece London) with Elizabeth Esteve; Fredrikson Stallard. Image credit Andy Barnham.

J-F Courville, Chief Operating Officer, RBC Wealth Management, said ‘We are delighted to continue our sponsorship of Masterpiece London with the introduction of the Fifth Plinth. Inspired by Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, the Fifth Plinth in the Royal Bank of Canada lounge will feature a different ‘Masterpiece’ each day. Our sponsorship of the Fair also forms part of a larger dialogue between artists and collectors which the Royal Bank of Canada supports through a $7 million annual global commitment to the arts.

High profile guests that attended included Evegeny Lebedev, Mila Kunis, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Jasper Conran, Robbie Williams, Jade Jagger, Roman Abramovich, Dasha Zhukova, Paul McCartney and wife Nancy Shevell, Petra Ecclestone, James Stunt, Tamara Ecclestone, Sir Howard Hodgkin, Audrey Gruss, Terence Disdale, The Earl & Countess of Derby, Daniel Katz, Scott Snyder, Fredrikson Stallard, Jamie Drake, Ellie Cullman, Lord Constantine, Basia Briggs, Nick Foulkes, Princess Michael of Kent,  Sol Campbell, and Scott Snyder as well as the Chelsea Pensioners, all of whom added to the buzz of the Preview Day.

Museum collectors and patrons included Carlos Picon (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Rosie Mills (LACMA), Sir Nicholas Penny (National Gallery), Peter B Kerber (Getty Museum), Jessica Harrison-Hall (British Museum), Rita Freed (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), and Duncan Bell (Rijksmuseum), to name but a few.

The 2015 Fair saw major unveilings from our exhibitors, including an unseen and uncatalogued pastel work by Claude Monet, which was discovered on the back of an existing pastel given by Monet to Paul Durand-Ruel’s (Monet’s dealer) granddaughter on her wedding day, offered by Richard Green (Stand D26); one of the largest fancy vivid Old-Cut yellow diamonds to ever come to market, weighing just over 114 carat, was unveiled by Symbolic & Chase (Stand C7); Dickinson (Stand D2) presented a monumental painting measuring over 4.5 metres tall by Robert Delaunay, the husband of Sonia Delaunay who is currently the focus of a major retrospective at Tate Britain.

The Design Committee this year extended its remit to celebrate the diverse range of outstanding objects that the exhibitors offer every year. The committee was comprised of Philip Hewat-Jaboor (Chairman of Masterpiece London), Robin Anthony (Curator, Royal Bank of Canada), Susan Moore (Art Market Correspondent and Associate Editor at Apollo Magazine), Dr Brian Allen (Chairman, Hazlitt Gooden & Fox), Francis Sultana (Furniture and Interior Designer), Jamie Drake (Interior Designer), and Stephen Harrison (Decorative Arts Curator, Cleveland Museum of Art). The Outstanding Display of the Year Award went to Steinitz (Stand D10) and Object of the Year Award went to The Hanover Tompion No 417 at Carter Marsh & Co (Stand D11).

In addition to these, the committee also awarded the ‘Painting of the Year Award’ to La Ville de Paris, La Femme et la Tour Eiffel, by Robert Delaunay, 1925, offered by Dickinson (Stand D2), ‘Jewel of the Year Award’ to Wartski (Stand C1) for their The Fall of the Damned by René Lalique, a cast and chased gold pendant suspending a baroque pearl, 1902, ‘Work of the Year by a Living Artist’ went to Yayoi Kusama for her work Waves, offered by Nukaga Gallery (Stand B12) .