I strongly believe it is of the utmost importance to keep this internal debate simple, for the benefit of its members and not distracted by undue process and personal benefit.
This fair was established some 25 years ago to promote the members’ interests under the BADA banner, recognised by collectors and connoisseurs everywhere, our potential clients, and the outside world generally.
The association has recently celebrated its centenary – no mean achievement, and the product of many years of seriously hard work and dedication by its members past and present and its employees keen to preserve our beloved profession, interests and proud code of conduct.
The supposed sale simply cannot and must not proceed to completion.
Clearly, there has been no consultation or information as to even the idea or progress to a sale of the fair to its members or input from the BADA’s professional advisers.
How has a commercial ‘valuation’ of the fair been arrived at and what paperwork is available for general members’ inspection to show due process has been followed?
I take this opportunity to liken this to the sale of the BADA HQ at 20 Rutland Gate. General member consultation on this was non-existent, certainly not as far as I was concerned or to the many other members I have conferred with.
The sale generated many millions of pounds which eventually showed up in the BADA company accounts. However, this could now be a benefit to the membership generally.
The BADA has to be viewed primarily as an association for the promotion and benefit of its enthusiastic members and has to be, I admit, sustainable and financially sound – like a business, in effect.
I appreciate that the BADA fair is now only marginally profitable or even leaking money but the overall financial situation of the association has to be seen by any accountant as being secure overall, bearing in mind even the interest accruing on this property sale (at a modest and generally achievable 3-4% from a blue-chip investment company) which would continue without question to support and assist with providing the security of the fair and its reputation for years to come.
Also, further economies could be achieved and extra outside corporate support garnered but the BADA name would be to the forefront, prominent and proud, to show continuity, especially in these difficult economic times, and that we are confident.
Remember, the BADA was founded originally by dedicated dealers in times far from prosperous.
These difficult times will pass
Difficult times will not last – Brexit will be resolved and the market will improve. Let us be sure that the BADA name only is still there as a banner for future better times and not corrupted by a nonsense name The Open Art Fair – the BADA would have 20% but 20% of what?
I do feel strongly concerning the above for the future of the BADA and its fair – it is the family silver.
We just have to recognise that and the now strong financial position of our association in otherwise reduced times: the HQ property sale has given the association its future and that must have been the reason for its sale for the general benefit of its members.
We must not think otherwise.
Expansion is a slippery slope
MADAM – I have read the recent letters and followed press releases regarding the BADA fair, with great interest. It is claimed that the fair is not viable financially, that it must expand to survive, and it will thus have to be open to non-BADA members.
I don’t decry the idea nor the need for change but expansion is a slippery slope. We all talk about, in almost every discipline with which we work, the dearth of top-quality antiques for our businesses to trade in. Yet we want to expand.
The corollary of this is that standards must suffer in spite of the claim that the new fair will be vetted to scrupulous BADA standards.
If the best of the BADA businesses become surrounded at their fair with others who do not uphold standards they will wish to break away and form their own fair.
A fair of exceptional quality in different disciplines, and designed for specialist collectors, will inevitably become a viable proposition and a ‘must’ for those who deal in the exceptional. It won’t happen overnight but a split will come in time.
Ex-vetter for Grosvenor House and many other fairs, including BADA
In reply to these letters, BADA chairman Michael Cohen writes:
On Tuesday [October 1] BADA Council hosted an open meeting at which more than 50% of the association’s membership participated in asking questions on the fair and a wide range of other issues.
The more than 50 questions and answers given to a wide range of issues, both current and historic, will be circulated to all members as soon as the contents of the four-hour meeting have been collated.
The sale of the fair secures the future of the event: all BADA members have protected rights and a significant discount for participating.
As well as protecting the future of the fair as an important event for members, buyers and collectors, the sale also allows the fair to develop and respond more effectively to the changing market.
The sale, while retaining 20% of the fair and a seat on the Board, ensures that BADA standards will not be diluted. The result of the recent strategy has secured the future of the association through a careful investment strategy and now provides the association the ability to invest significantly in developing the online platform which will benefit all members.
At the meeting Council set out a clear commitment to involve members more directly in the policy-making and decision-making process; already many members have volunteered to get involved.