July 5 (Bloomberg) -- A custom-made Rolls-Royce, a pair of earrings by the jeweler JAR and a Lucian Freud drawing were among items selling for more than $600,000 at a London fair that combines art and antiques with luxury consumer goods.
The second annual Masterpiece London, featuring more than 160 dealerships, runs until 9 p.m. today in a temporary structure at the Royal Hospital, the venue of the Chelsea Flower Show. Prince Harry, Uma Thurman, Oprah Winfrey and Elton John were among those spotted by dealers during the first few days of the week-long fair.
The event is modeled on the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, with the addition of contemporary brands such as Ruinart champagne and Vacheron Constantin watches. It aims to appeal to London’s international residents and summer visitors at a time when cash-rich individuals are looking to invest in tangible assets that hold their value.
“Masterpiece is on the map now,’’ Martin Travis, director of the London-based jeweler Symbolic & Chase, said in an interview. “A number of clients flew in just for the fair.”
Symbolic & Chase sold a 1930s brooch with a yellow diamond weighing 47 carats and a pair of natural pearl and diamond earrings by JAR of Paris. Each priced at more than $2 million, both sold to Middle Eastern buyers among the 5,000-strong crowd at the preview.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd. found an international London-based buyer -- subject to the signing of the contract -- for a Phantom Drophead Coupe, bespoke-built in Mazarine Blue for the Masterpiece fair. The car, priced at 400,000 pounds, included an Asprey jewelry box in the glove compartment.
A Freud portrait drawing priced at 850,000 pounds and a 1960s Anthony Caro metal floor sculpture at more than 200,000 pounds were among sales by London-based 20th century-art specialists Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert.
The fair’s venue was created by Stabilo International BV, which constructs the booths at Tefaf in Maastricht.
Masterpiece 2011 includes 50 more dealers than at last year’s inaugural fair in June. Then the event coincided with Sotheby’s and Christie’s International’s auctions of Impressionist and modern art. This year it overlaps with the views of the auction houses’ Old Master sales and with London dealers’ paintings and drawings promotions.
“It’s a shopping mall for luxury art consumers,’’ said Floris van der Ven, director of the Netherlands-based dealership Vanderven & Vanderven. He sold a pair of Kangxi-dynasty vases to a Chinese collector for 500,000 pounds ($804,000).
Van der Ven, a veteran of 20 years of art fairs, praised the event’s mix of historic and contemporary products and catering provided by Richard Caring’s Urban Caprice group.
The London-based dealers Butchoff Antiques sold a lady’s dressing table that had belonged to one of the wives of Indian aristocrat the Nizam of Hyderabad for 175,000 pounds.
There were few confirmed big-ticket sales among specialists in Old Master paintings and museum-quality antiques. A number of dealers, some of whom had paid between 40,000 pounds and 50,000 pounds for their stand, were disappointed by the level of footfall at the fair after the first two days. Some suggested the July timing of the event was too late.
There were no reported takers for a two-seater World War II Spitfire, with a documented service record dating back to the 1940s, which had a guide price of 8 million pounds.
(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
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