William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME-IMG) has bought a proportionate stake in the Frieze Art Fair. According to reports, the agent Ari Emanuel of WME-IMG as well as co-CEO Patrick Whitesell, are the first to invest in Frieze. Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, who founded Frieze in 1991, will continue to manage the fair for the foreseeable future. The agency has officially announced a “strategic partnership” with Frieze, the art fair that opens the fifth edition of its Randall’s Island branch in New York in early May.
“We’re really pleased to form a partnership with WME/IMG that will help us increase the value of what we do for the galleries we work with,” said Frieze Co-Founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover in the release. Frieze began as a magazine founded by Ms. Sharp and Mr. Slotover in 1991. They expanded into the art fair business in 2003 with the first Frieze Art Fair in London. WME-IMG will “expand the resources and expertise available to Frieze’s clients through events, media, and technology,” a press release states. The agency will also help to support the Frieze Tate Fund, which provides $200,000 to acquire art for the Tate Museum from Frieze’s London edition.
Sharp told the Financial Times that WME will help advise on how “digital can support live events,” and said the investment would allow Frieze to “start realising innovations we have been developing over the last year.” However, she did not provide details.
As part of the deal, WME-IMG will support the £150,000 annual acquisition programme of the Frieze Tate Fund, which allows the institution to buy art at the fair for its own collection. Since it was established in 2003, Tate has been able to buy 100 works by 69 artists.
Photo: © P C Robinson Artlyst 2016