The US sports and entertainment conglomerate WME-IMG, which is run by the Hollywood super agent Ari Emanuel and his business partner Patrick Whitesell, has invested in Frieze, the London-based publisher and art fair. The sum invested and the size of WME-ING’s shareholding have not yet been revealed.
The fair’s founders, Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, have said the partnership will “enable us to start realising innovations we’ve been developing over the last year,” but they are yet to announce what these are. When asked by the Financial Times whether another Frieze fair—in addition to those in New York and London—was on the cards, Sharp replied: “Never say never.”
As part of the deal, WME-IMG will support the £150,000 annual acquisition programme of the Frieze Tate Fund, which allows the institution to buy art at the fair for its own collection. Since it was established in 2003, Tate has been able to buy 100 works by 69 artists.
The cash injection will also help the fair stave off growing competition from the Art Basel brand, whose owners, the Basel-based MCH group, recently announced they are expanding their portfolio by buying stakes in existing regional art fairs, with the aim of growing them.