In 2020 James Murdoch invested CHF 74.5 million (about $80 million) into MCH Group (the owner of the Art Basel Fairs). The proposal made Murdoch the Swiss company’s new “anchor shareholder”. MCH shareholders also elected Murdoch alongside Eleni Lionaki and Jeff Palker to the board of directors.
Murdoch is “definitely engaged” in the Paris fairMarc Spiegler, global director of Art Basel,
And now as reported in The Art Newspaper MCH Group has kicked Fiac’s out of the Grand Palais in Paris so they can host a new contemporary art fair in October.
Fiac founded in 1974, is a Parisian institution and France’s pre-eminent art fair. At the end of last year, the Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais (RMN-GP), the French cultural body which manages the Grand Palais and its temporary replacement the Grand Palais Éphémère, unexpectedly put Fiac and Paris Photo’s longstanding October and November slots up for tender.
Today it was announced that MCH has been chosen to organise an international contemporary art fair in October.
The new fair will take place at the Grand Palais Éphémère on the Champ-de-Mars this year and next, then at the Grand Palais on the Champs-Elysées from 2024. An Art Basel spokesperson says a new name is being developed for the Paris fair. The seven-year contract is reportedly worth at least €10ms
The RMN statement says:
RX France and MCH have committed to promote a strong presence of French galleries at their respective fairs, and to maintain a controlled pricing policy. The Rmn-Grand Palais and the ministry of culture will closely supervise the respect of these engagements.”
RMN refers to MCH as “a world leader in the field” capable of producing a fair suitable for “an increasingly competitive market,” which will be organised “by a team based in France.”
RX France had not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.
Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel, told The Art Newspaper the new fair will “definitely not be Art Basel Paris” and that MCH had approached RMN about taking on the October dates last autumn, “but we didn’t expect the chance to come so soon”. Fiac’s October slot was “the only time that would work for us, as we already have the Art Basel fair in Hong Kong in the spring, Basel in the summer and Miami Beach in the winter”.
RMN asked MCH to put together a letter of intent, outlining its plans and bid, which Spiegler says is a “significant investment and shows a serious long-term commitment on MCH’s side. MCH only found out that its Grand Palais bid had been successful this morning, so no hires have been made as yet, nor has a selection committee been appointed. “What I can say is that it will be run out of Paris, not Basel, and staffed with an exclusively French team,” Spiegler says.