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The 70 or so exhibitors put on a good show of just what is currently the hottest property on the British market, 20th century British art, and it was lapped up by an enthusiastic opening night throng.

As one dealer said to me: “You would not get a crowd like this at an Old Masters fair.” There is one cloud on the horizon, though, for this and a number of other fairs which use The Commonwealth Institute as a venue.
When discovered a few years ago, the Commonwealth Institute Galleries were considered the most exciting new London fairs venue for years. There is a dearth of fairworthy buildings in the capital and this one rapidly became a favourite with organisers and fairgoers. We have known for some time the Institute building is up for sale, but we all hoped, and thought it likely, that the new owner would continue with fairs.

This now seems unlikely to be the case, according to some whispers I heard at last week’s opening night when talking to my friends in local government circles.

Apparently, the prospective buyers list is down to just two, neither of whom would use the galleries for exhibition purposes. I am told a deal is imminent and the new owners will be either the Royal Shakespeare Company or a West London evangelical church.

Those in the know feel easy with the RSC, but they do wonder just where the hot gospellers will raise the asking price, believed to be around £33.5m.