Frieze shake-up: former media boss chosen as company's first CEO

Changes are afoot with both the fairs and the magazine as majority shareholder Endeavor make plans for the future

The Frieze company includes publications, four international art fairs, Frieze Studios and Frieze Music Photo: Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze

The Frieze empire has announced major managerial changes with the appointment of its first chief executive officer. Simon Fox takes up the role on 2 April; he was formerly chief executive of Reach, the UK media company which owns titles including the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express.

Fox, who is based in London, will oversee Frieze’s publications—Frieze, Frieze Masters Magazine and Frieze Week—and its four international art fairs: Frieze London, Frieze Masters, Frieze New York and Frieze Los Angeles. Its business model also encompasses Frieze Studios, the media production arm of the company, and the off-site performance programme Frieze Music.

The move is part of a shake-up by Hollywood’s Endeavor entertainment group (formerly WME-IMG) which bought a reported 70% stake in the UK-based publisher and fair organiser in 2016. Early last year, Endeavor returned a $400m investment by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund following the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Simon Fox, Frieze's new CEO Courtesy of Frieze

Asked if Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, who founded Frieze magazine in 1991, will remain on board, a spokeswoman says: “Yes absolutely, but their involvement will take on a different shape. While they will leave the executive management to the CEO, they will continue to be heavily involved in the relationships that are so important to the business, continuing to shape the future direction of Frieze, its brand and identity.”

Changes are also afoot at the magazine. Jennifer Higgie, who has worked on the publication for more than two decades, stepped down last September as editor in chief. As editor-at-large, she is focusing on a new podcast (Bow Down), editing Frieze Masters magazine and various other projects.

Andrew Durbin, a senior editor at the publication, was named as her replacement last month. Frieze's publisher, Rebecca Ann Siegel, said in a statement: “His vision for the future of Frieze is grounded in cross-disciplinary content and multi-media platforms.”