Launched in 1988 by Gay Hutson and the late Bunny Wynn, the fair (previously known as the 20/21 British Art Fair) had been purchased by brothers Robert and Johnny Sandelson in 2018.
Robert organised the fair in 2018 and 2019 with Hutson as a consultant. Under Ramsay Fairs, best known in the UK for its series of the Affordable Art Fair, the British Art Fair will continue to run in the autumn (from September 29 to October 2) in the Saatchi Gallery and to feature Modern and Contemporary British art, with Hutson staying on as fair director.
Will Ramsay, founder of Ramsay Fairs, says he has been a “life-long fan” of the British Art Fair and told ATG that he wrote to Hutson and Wynn as early as 2002 offering to buy the fair.
Path to purchase
However, it seems the path to purchasing the event was not straightforward.
In late February, Ramsay Fairs approached potential exhibitors about the launch of a new event called Blast. Named after the British Vorticist magazine which ran from 1914-15, Blast was scheduled to take the slot at the Saatchi Gallery.
Ramsay told ATG that at the time Blast was announced to dealers, “buying the British Art Fair was not on the cards. Then it came on the cards.”
Hutson told ATG that many exhibitors were “delighted” to hear that the historic fair was continuing under its old banner.
Robert Sandelson is set to join the advisory committee, which also includes dealers Peter Osborne, Simon Hilton, Richard Selby, Robert Travers and Jenna Burlingham and journalist Colin Gleadell.
The Sandelsons’ other event, Draw Art Fair, was not part of the deal.
Ramsay Fairs runs 16 fairs internationally every year and employs 60 people in nine offices. It said that the acquisition of the British Art Fair has “cemented” its place as the world’s largest art fair group (in terms of number of fairs).
Ramsay added: “Modern British art has always been a strong part of the market and it has got stronger. It will continue to be good.
“We will try to bring a new generation of collector to Modern British art.”