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Owned by DMG World Media since 2001, the fair has struggled in recent years and, although it retains top international exhibitors, others have left, placing the future of the event in jeopardy.

However, a group of some of the more eminent exhibitors, led by top London art dealer Richard Green, were aware of the status and potential of the Palm Beach fair and wanted to remain part of a successful event.

They approached DMG and a deal has been drafted whereby DMG and a group of some 20 dealers will share equity and the dealers would commit to the fair for five years.

An association of major dealers is being formed under the working name International Fine Art Dealers Association and already includes representatives of Richard Green, Noortman, Mallett, Dickinson, Peter Finer and MacConnal-Mason Gallery.

Florida-based entrepreneur David Lester, the man who founded this Palm Beach fair 12 years ago and subsequently sold it to DMG, has been brought in by the dealers to represent them as executive director. He will return to the organisation of the fair with responsibility for marketing and also stand sales to British, North European and American dealers.

Mark Lynam will run the operation while the most recent show director Michael Mezzatesta will liaise with museums and be in charge of sales to Latin American and Southern European countries.

Some aspects of the deal have yet to be negotiated. But the deal will take place and will be finalised by the close of the fair at Grosvenor House in London.

DMG’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Franks told ATG he is looking forward to working with the dealers and David Lester.

The last Palm Beach Fair was held at the Palm Beach County Convention Centre from February 1 to 10 with some 84 dealers.

By David Moss