Art Basel Cancels September Fair

Visitors to Art Basel, a premier modern and contemporary art fair, in June 2019. The 50th edition of the Art Basel fair in September was canceled Saturday after many dealers cited concerns about travel and safety. Online viewing will be live from June 19 to June 26.Credit...Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

via The New York Times

LONDON — Organizers of Art Basel, the centerpiece of the European art market calendar, have canceled the show in Basel, Switzerland, in September because of ongoing health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 50th anniversary edition of the event, featuring more than 250 international galleries, had originally been scheduled to take place in June, but had been postponed to Sept. 15-20.

The Swiss Federal Council had delayed its decision on whether the fair could go ahead until later this month. Uncertainty about the regulatory environment, together with concerns about the financial risks for exhibitors and partners, as well as “ongoing impediments to international travel,” had been additional factors in the decision to cancel, Art Basel said in a statement.

“We are acutely aware that our galleries are facing unprecedented challenges and economic difficulties, and we had fervently hoped to support the art market’s recovery with a successful fair in September,” said Marc Spiegler, global director of Art Basel. “Unfortunately, the uncertainties that we face remain too high.”

This is another major blow to Art Basel’s beleaguered Swiss parent company, MCH Group. Both the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Baselworld watch fair — traditionally the organizer’s biggest moneymaking event — were canceled last month.

“To lose both these events is a significant blow to MCH and its shareholders,” said Todd Levin, an art adviser based in New York who is a regular visitor to Art Basel. “Is it a blow for the art world? Obviously, it’s a disappointment, but most people were expecting it,” Mr. Levin added. “It’s an art fair where you go to buy stuff. If you don’t go one year, you go another.

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