In early May, the Frieze Art Fair took place on Randall’s Island in New York. In case you do not remember, that weekend was a scorcher … temperatures rose above 90 degrees. Since it was still early in the season, the owners of Frieze most likely assumed that temperatures would still be a little cool and did not install adequate air conditioning. I am sure you know what happened … the heat outside rose and made conditions inside the fair unbearable. This resulted in attendees being forced to leave the show to cool off. In turn, some of the dealers/galleries seem to have suffered substantial financial loses.
On May 2nd, the event’s director sent an email to all participants explaining the situation and how they were handling it. A week later they announced plans to offer some level of compensation to all the exhibitors.
On June 7th, a month later, executives of the art fair contacted the galleries with an apology for the intense heat stating: “We promised to give something back to you following Frieze New York and we are writing now to confirm that we are offering 10 percent of the booth fee to every gallery who was affected by the heat on the first two days of the fair.”
For some, as they say — it was too little, too late. On June 8th, Chicago based Shane Campbell Gallery filed a lawsuit in New York’s Southern District Court “on behalf of hundreds of art galleries and other persons . . . who paid substantial sums to participate” seeking $15 million, plus damages. In the complaint, Campbell alleges that the fair was grossly negligent in preparing the site for such heat and ensuring a reasonably efficient air conditioning system.