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In Some Fancy London Houses, a New Model for the Art World

LONDON — Mayfair and St. James’s, the districts where most of London’s high-end art trading businesses are concentrated, have been eerily quiet. This week’s canceled Frieze London and Frieze Masters fairs have turned into “might click” rather than “must attend” events. Global gallery sales are estimated to be down an average of 36 percent.

The coronavirus pandemic is putting pressure on the international art trade to come up with new business models. And Cromwell Place, billed as a “membership organization offering a first-of-its-kind exhibition and working space for art professionals,” is one of them.

Owned by a private consortium and set to open to the public on Saturday in the South Kensington district, Cromwell Place occupies a stylishly renovated terrace of five 19th-century townhouses. So far, about 10 institutional and 40 commercial members have signed up for “pay-for-what-you-need” facilities that include offices, viewing rooms, exhibition spaces, technician hire, art storage

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