Anyone who happened to be going through Bridgehampton recently may have noticed a bit of hoopla and some giant tents taking up prominent landscape — those of ArtHamptons two weeks ago and ArtMRKT Hamptons last weekend.
ArtHamptons pitched its tents in Sayre Park, next to the Hampton Classic grounds. According to the fair’s organizers, the four-day event attracted 9,500 visitors and about $5 million in sales on site, with interest continuing on two rather expensive works, a Franz Kline painting with a price tag of $2.4 million and a Wilfredo Lam work priced at $1.2 million. Two London galleries, Woolff Gallery and the Cynthia Corbett Gallery, left the fair completely sold out of what they took to it.
According to exhibitors and the fair’s founder, Rick Friedman, most of the sales happened in the last hours on Sunday. “We had a steady crowd over the weekend, about 2,000 to 3,000 a day,” he said, but “there was a rush of people coming in last minute.”
It was a situation many dealers took advantage of when confronted with the prospect of hauling back more inventory than they might have expected. “They thought, ‘Well, I didn’t sell it yet, I might as well keep it here.’ And that’s what happened and why there were a lot of sales,” he said.
Mr. Friedman said this year’s facilities helped make the fair a success. “We had a 55,000-square-foot modular building and upgraded everything from last year.” He credited the fair’s special events with keeping people interested in coming back. “They created excitement and fun, and added a lot of sizzle.” The events included book signings with Russell Simmons and some of Andy Warhol’s Factory associates, who came in conjunction with a screening of a film about their time there.
ArtMRKT was co-founded by Max Fishko, a former associate of Mr. Friedman’s at ArtHamptons who had served as the fair’s curator.
Jeffrey Wainhause, a managing partner of ArtMRKT, said attendance was surprisingly high for the first year of a fair at 4,500 people.
Dealers at that fair, held on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Historical Society, reported that they were happy with it.
Julie Keyes, who shows her artists’ work in both Southampton and New York City, said she really enjoyed the other galleries that exhibited, even buying some work from them, “and I sold a bunch. I’m very happy with it.” She said the buzz she heard was that everyone else was happy too.
Karen Boltax, who came from Shelter Island to show some of her artists, said the fair was “well run with a fun, professional vibe.” She reported that traffic was steady and full of “excellent, quality, legitimate collectors, advisers, and art professionals.” Her sales exceeded her expections, she said.
ArtHamptons will be featured in a plot line for the television series “Royal Pains” on Aug. 17. The show’s producers recreated the fair’s opening night on a set constructed at Rye Playland in Westchester County with “hundreds of extras all dressed up in Hamptons-style clothes.” Mr. Friedman said he even made a cameo appearance.