Fancy getting your hands on a 1932 Bugatti Grand Prix car? How about a magnificently ornate Victorian billiards table? Alternatively, you could furnish your living room with a pair of stunning globes from the 17th century. Of course, you’ll need to stump up over a million quid to own any of these – £3.2m in the case of the Bugatti – but, for rather less, you can at least go and gawp at them next week at a new art and antiques fair that’s bidding to become a firm fixture in London’s summer season.
Masterpiece London, taking place from next Thursday in a grand pavilion on the Chelsea Barracks site, is intended to be an unashamedly populist celebration of luxury goods, fine art and antiques. In the past, such events in London have tended to be rather unexciting, traditional affairs, but Masterpiece London is all about bringing collectable beauty to the masses, says co-founder Thomas Woodham-Smith of antiques dealer Mallet.
“As dealers we realised our industry needed to appeal to people much more widely rather than being elitist, exclusive and just for collectors,” he says. To that end, Masterpiece London brings together everything from fine art to fine wines, antique firearms to antique furniture, contemporary design to classic cars, all to be displayed in a huge pavilion fronted with a recreation of the façade of Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Everything will be for sale, and collectors will be flocking in from around the world.
“It’s the best of the best, and there are no restrictions on what dealers can show,” says Woodham-Smith, who expects the fair to become an annual event to sit alongside the likes of the Chelsea Flower Show and Ascot, as well as the international art fairs. “It should be commercially, visually and gastronomically stunning.”
Gastronomically? As it happens, yes. Caprice Holdings, the all-conquering restaurant group owned by fashion mogul Richard Caring, will be running mini-versions of its famous restaurants on-site, including The Ivy, Scott’s, Bam-bou, Le Caprice itself and the group’s new Mayfair deli outlet, Mount Street Deli. Meanwhile, ultra-exclusive private members’ club Harry’s Bar is providing cocktails. “That’s part of the message,” says Woodham-Smith. “That which is exclusive and hard to access can be opened up to you for this exciting week.” Timothy Barber
24-25 June, former Chelsea Barracks, SW1. www.masterpiecefair.com