| Jul 11, 2011 |
London's Masterpiece Fair drew Royals and celebs
By Staff

By Deborah Sanders

Prince Harry, Oprah and Tom Ford were among the celebrities who attended the second annual Masterpiece 2011/London fair. The number of international exhibitors increased by almost 50% to total over 150 this year at the six-day event held on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea June 30-July 5.

Sir Elton John

Organized by the exhibitors themselves, the fair had an uber modern feel, showcasing “the best of the best” in fine art, decorative arts, jewelry, armory, spirits and even automobiles. Staged in an enormous tent fashioned from the outside like a multi-windowed brick building, inside, bright white arched hallways were periodically punctuated with generous benches and oversized florals.

Uma Thurman and Tim Jeffries

In the center, Harry’s Bar beckoned with its famous bellinis and a come-one-come-all atmosphere. Nearby mannequins were dressed in haute couture wear, selected by retailer Harvey Nichols.

Vivienne Westwood

The show was not only well-edited in its choice of dealers, but in its dealers’ choices. Among Picassos and Old Masters were Annie Leibovitz photographs, Chinese ceramics, vintage modern French furnishings, Vacheron Constantin watches and exquisite period pieces. Rolls-Royce showed up with a one-of-a-kind Phantom Drophead Coupe in a stunning dropdead mustique blue with an asking price of around $640,000. Most interesting among the show’s “Lust List” of worldly goods was a pristine 1944 two-seater, prototype Spitfire airplane. Reportedly it was priced around $12.8 million.

Tamara Beckwith wearing an Aquamarine from 21st Century Jewels

Some dealers spared no effort in designing their exhibition space. In JAR’s dimly lit space, where only the enigmatic designer’s aluminum jewelry and perfumes were illuminated, shards of light shot across an angry sky on the ceiling creating the theatrical effect of lightning.

Baby Bugatti

In addition, the fair organized two lecture series and a concert. A lunchtime lecture series by the Wallace Collection included topics such as “The Romance of Relics” and “Maximizing Miniatures,” while the lifestyle lectures educated on luxury categories such as champagne, watches and cars. Manning Camerata, Britain’s new chamber orchestra, united some of the world’s best musicians from Russia, Japan and the UK for a July 2 musical performance.

Eddie Jordan performance

Though the largest number of international dealers hailed from the UK,  the catalog listing of American exhibitors was impressive and included Jack Kilgore, Kentshire Galleries, Michele Beiny, Donald Heald, Carlton Hobbs, Lillian Nassau, Safani Gallery, Elle Shushan, Tambaran Gallery and Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz.

Lord Freddie Windsor and his wife Sophie Winkleman

For an entrance fee of $33, the fair provided an opportunity to have an up-close, intimate view of the many facets of man at his creative best. From 17th and 18th-century Old Masters in the gallery of Andrew Blackman, who specializes in researching misattributed artworks, to the playful fabrication of Jeff Koons’ mirrored “Olive Oyle” in Robilant + Voena’s exhibition, the London event offered a fascinating spectrum of artistry for every taste, displayed in a beautifully designed venue that brings new definition to the term “pop-up.”

Photos courtesy Rex Features.

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