By most accounts, it was the busiest opening for Frieze London in recent memory. By 11.30am on Wednesday, an enormous queue had formed, snaking out of the tent and through Regent’s Park—much to the chagrin of some VIPs who complained that the hours-long wait, and scrum once inside, had put them off buying any art.
While the former chancellor Rishi Sunak had no option but to wait in line, a lucky few were squirrelled in via the Deutsche Bank entrance. Others simply left.
The Belgian collector Alain Servais took to Twitter to complain about the “insane crowd of socialites” mixed in with the VIPs. “An art fair is supposed to provide its gallerists [sic] clients with VIPs in the right mood to transact in the first few hours,” he wrote. “Frieze showed where it is standing.”
Carrie Scott, the British American curator and art adviser, chimed in: “So completely agree with you. There was nothing about the experience […] that fostered meaningful discussion about the work on the stands. Too many people there […] who were time wasters, not serious buyers.”
A spokeswoman for Frieze says the fair had not scrapped tiered VIP entry; rather, it was back to the pre-pandemic system of timed entry points at 11am, 2pm and 5pm. Some speculated that organisers had over-egged the number of attendees to boost appearances. However, visitor figures will not be released until the fair is over on Sunday, so it remains to be seen whether this was a bumper year for attendance.