Art Basel parent company MCH was experiencing financial difficulties even before the pandemic. Then its art fairs in Hong Kong, Basel and Miami were cancelled (or went online; ‘It doesn’t work,’ dealer Dominique Lévy summed up), precipitating a ten percent staff loss at Art Basel. So there was a lot riding on 2021, especially now that Art Basel global director Spiegler has the backing of Murdoch’s Lupa Systems investment vehicle, MCH’s ‘anchor shareholder’. Hong Kong, though delayed, went off without a hitch (a relief given that Spiegler had promised full refunds if the fair was cancelled), and the Swiss edition was judged a slow but steady success, despite the notable absence of American collectors. Spiegler had enticed 272 galleries with a 10 percent discount, a promise to cover hotel quarantines and a CHF1.5m (£1.2m) ‘solidarity relief fund’ for those disappointed by sales (97 galleries took up the offer). Miami returns with 254 exhibitors, roughly its prepandemic level. Murdoch’s art interest goes beyond booths: this year he invested in an art-focused NFT marketplace.
Most influential people in 2021 in the contemporary artworld
James Murdoch & Marc Spiegler
Art Fair - Art Basel Miami returns with 254 exhibitors; meanwhile Murdoch invests in an art-NFT marketplace
70 in 2021