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Shane Campbell Gallery Sues Frieze Art Fair, Alleging ‘Substantial Financial Losses’ Resulting from Heat in New York

The pavilion at Frieze New York.

KATHERINE MCMAHON

Chicago’s Shane Campbell Gallery has filed suit against the Frieze art fair, alleging that Frieze “was grossly negligent in preparing” its recent New York edition for temperatures that exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The suit, which was filed this past Friday in New York’s Southern District Court, notes that “Frieze was aware of the problem but took no action to correct it.” As a result of the heat, “art customers, collectors, consultants and their clients and other attendees could not remain in the site and were forced to leave,” causing the gallery to incur “substantial financial losses.”

Shane Campbell Gallery, which filed the suit with its co-owner, Julie N. Campbell, is now seeking reimbursement for the fees it paid to participate in the New York edition. According to the suit, the gallery approached Frieze following the fair asking for a refund. In return, the fair allegedly offered a 2.5 percent repayment, which the gallery subsequently determined was “ludicrously insufficient.”

The suit goes on to claim that the financial losses suffered because of the heat were not unique to Shane Campbell Gallery and affected other exhibitors—such that the suit was filed “on behalf of hundreds of art galleries and other persons . . . who paid substantial sums to participate.” The suit also seeks the annulment of a contract signed with Frieze prior to exhibiting at the fair.

The complaint follows news last week that Frieze had offered a 10-percent refund to galleries that exhibited at the New York fair, which ran from May 2 to 5 on Randall’s Island. A letter sent to exhibitors signed by four higher-ups at Frieze—the fair’s director, Victoria Siddall; its cofounders, Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover; and its artistic director, Loring Randolph—read, in part: “Our intention has only ever been to create a fantastic experience for you, your clients and artists, so we are truly saddened and sorry for this and want you to know we are working now to ensure it can never happen again.”

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