Georgina Adam uses her Financial Times column to look at the upcoming American International Fine Art Fair in Palm Beach. The fair itself has had a roller coaster history but now that it is back in the hands of Richard Lester, the man who created it, things were looking positive. Then the Madoff scandal turned the wealthy redoubt into ground zero of the Ponzi scheme:
no one could predict that the Madoff scandal would break shortly before the next fair, scheduled for February 4-8. Bernard Madoff, who is accused of losing up to $50bn of investors’ money, was a pillar of the exclusive Palm Beach Country Club.
I asked Lester if the scandal would affect business at the fair. “Of course, big time,” he admitted. “It’s a horrible situation and there are people here who have lost everything. I’m telling the exhibitors, ‘You can’t plan on making sales to people from Palm Beach this year.’” His solution? He is suggesting each exhibitor invites clients from other parts of Florida to attend his events programme. “I’m saying, ‘You’re spending $200,000 to do the fair, spend another $2,000 to bring in out-of-towners. That could bring 900 collectors on to the fair floor.’” The inducement, he says, will be evening events including a black-tie gala at Donald Trump’s extravagant Mar-a-Lago Club.
The Art Market: Chill Wind on the Beach (Financial Times)