Because most international galleries with outposts in London sell works in foreign currency, they are unaffected by the pound’s devaluation following the UK’s vote in July to leave the EU. “We don’t price much in pounds—mostly in euros and dollars,” says Angela Choon of David Zwirner gallery. Some UK galleries also price works in foreign currency. Bernard Jacobson, the gallerist, says: “We buy Motherwell in dollars, so we sell him in dollars. With others, such as Pierre Soulages, we buy in euros, so we sell in euros.”
Collectors were out in force at both fairs. At Frieze Masters, Mnuchin Gallery sold Sean Scully’s Gate (1997) and Bridget Riley’s Delos (1983), at the VIP opening, each priced between $1m and $1.5m. Hauser & Wirth sold a small Alexander Calder stabile (a stationary sculpture) for $600,000 and a much-talked-about decomposing cheese painting by Dieter Roth for more than $500,000. Marlborough Fine Art sold around £1m worth of work by Paula Rego.
Meanwhile at Frieze London, Hauser & Wirth’s “L’atelier d’artistes” stand, was designed to look like an artist’s studio, overflowing with works. The gallery sold sculptures by Fischli/Weiss and Thomas Houseago, priced at around $75,000, and a small Phyllida Barlow sculpture for £50,000. Goodman Gallery sold William Kentridge’s charcoal on paper work Observer (2016) for $450,000.