By David Brough, Chelsea Cross Editor
July 8, 2017 – Masterpiece London has established itself as London’s premier luxury fair and a leading showcase for fine art, home design and jewellery.
For just over a week from late June into early July, Masterpiece, staged in a huge marquee in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, drew crowds of glitterati, with visitor numbers up around 20 percent year-on-year.
Masterpiece has become a leading event of the London social season, alongside Wimbledon tennis, the Chelsea Flower Show, and Royal Ascot horse racing attended by Queen Elizabeth.
Throughout the event, Masterpiece thronged with super-rich visitors from around the world, sipping champagne as they browsed among the rare and beautiful objects and art.
The weakness of the pound since Britain voted last year to leave the European Union, created bargain opportunities for buyers whose fortunes were denominated in other currencies.
Masterpiece featured rare art, including paintings by the Impressionist Claude Monet, as well as George Stubbs, Joan Miro and Salvador Dali; Georgian furniture from top London (Chelsea Cross) showrooms such as Apter-Fredericks and Godson & Coles; first edition books, like “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925) at Peter Harrington Rare Books, and a sleek Riva motor boat.
Apter-Fredericks presented a spectacular green glass 16-arm chandelier which was found in India many years ago. It is attributed to John Blades who had extensive contacts there.
The survival of this chandelier is remarkable considering it was made in c. 1790 and has stacked up quite a few airmiles.
Godson & Coles showcased an exciting selection of newly acquired examples of English furniture and modern British art.
Notably, a magnificent walnut and gilt bureau bookcase attributable to Giles Grendey, as well as a pair of japanned chairs by Grendey, that form part of the most celebrated suite of English japanned furniture of the 18th century.
Masterpiece is a great showcase for contemporary, vintage and antique jewellery too.
The fair featured exquisite one-off jewels from maisons such as Chatila, Verdura, and Van Cleef & Arpels, as well as original Faberge pieces at the Wartski stand.
Some of the most precious items at Masterpiece included jewellery set with the most opulent gemstones, such as an extraordinarily rare, unheated nine-carat Burmese ruby ring at the stand of Bond Street jeweller Chatila, for USD$5 million.
Verdura presented superbly crafted, colourful jewels in limited editions that were associated with movie stars and celebrities such as Greta Garbo, Tyrone Power and Coco Chanel.Verdura – Dogwood Pendant and Brooch – 1943 – Courtesy Verdura
London jeweller Hancocks also added a touch of Hollywood glamour to the fair.
It presented a gold cuff, previously owned by Shirley Temple, one of America’s favourite child actresses and number one box office stars.
The Shirley Temple Lalaounis wide cuff bangle is by Greek goldsmith and jeweller Ilias Lalaounis, the most requested jeweller of the moment at Hancocks.
Chinese artist-jeweller Wallace Chan, whose stand was one of the most frequented at Masterpiece, showed off his highly skilled craftsmanship, presenting a remarkable cicada brooch made of imperial jade and precious gems.
Apart from contemporary creations, vintage jewellery was very prominent at the fair.
Monaco-based Veronique Bamps presented a custom-made tiger bracelet from Cartier Paris, made of 18ct yellow gold, onyx and emeralds, dated around 2000 and priced at USD$1.1 million.
Bamps and London antique jeweller S.J. Phillips had a selection of highly collectible Art Deco Cartier jewellery, dating from the 1920s and 1930s, which could be considered as investment pieces because of their rarity, beauty and craftsmanship.
S.J. Phillips also presented a selection of unique precious Portuguese antique jewellery.