Art Düsseldorf could see a boost in Asian-Pacific collectors in the coming years as it was announced today that the Swiss-based MCH Group, which owns the Art Basel franchise, has sold its 25.1% stake in the fair to Sandy Angus and Tim Etchells.
The pair jointly founded ArtHK in 2007 (the event was bought by Art Basel in 2011 and became Art Basel in Hong Kong in 2013) and their current portfolio includes the recently launched Taipei Dangdai, India Art Fair, Art Central Hong Kong and Shanghai and Sydney Contemporary.
The 25.1% stake, bought by MCH in 2017, has been split equally between Etchells and Angus for an undisclosed sum. In order to “expand his strategic role” in the fair, Angus has bought a further 15% from the current owners of Art Düsseldorf, Walter Gehlen and Andreas Lohaus. They retain the remaining 59.9%.
Describing the new partnership in a statement as a “strategic alliance” for Art Düsseldorf, Gehlen says the fair will benefit from the expertise of Angus and Etchells, “not least because [their] strong international network of successful art fairs gives us the opportunity to reach out to the Asian-Pacific collector community”.
MCH abandoned plans last summer to grow its portfolio of regional art fairs, withdrawing from Art SG, a new fair in Singapore, before it had even launched. In a further twist, Magnus Renfrew, the director of Taipei Dangdai, has taken up a stake. As part of “streamlining” operations, MCH is also looking for a buyer of its 60.3% stake in the India Art Fair, which Angus has co-owned since 2011.
One fair to come out apparently unscathed is Masterpiece London, to which MCH remains committed to its 67.5% investment. The London event is also dipping its toe in the Asian market, taking over a “pavilion” within Fine Art Asia in Hong Kong this October as part of what it calls a “long-term partnership” with the fair.