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Sotheby’s Institute of Art was the Education Partner of Masterpiece 2015 and during the fair held a 3-day course Masterpiece London: Collecting and the Art Market as well as an evening panel event A New Generation of Collecting. We spoke to the CEO of Masterpiece 2015, Nazy Vassegh, to find out more about the event and her career in the international art world.

Masterpiece 2015 is a highlight of the London art world calendar, what makes it different to other fairs?

Masterpiece London has pioneered the advocacy of cross-collecting since its inception and this aim remains at the very core of what Masterpiece offers as an art fair to the international art market. In addition, the summer is one of the most important cultural seasons for the Capital – it is when the auction houses hold their major bi-annual sales, all of the museums open their annual blockbuster exhibitions and dealers across the West End host exhibitions for London Art Week. These highlights along with sporting events including Wimbledon and Ascot make London one of the leading travel destinations in the world each June. Masterpiece is very proud to sit at the heart of this cultural activity, which provides context and focus for the Fair.

What can we expect from Masterpiece 2015?

Visitors to the Masterpiece London can expect what they have come to know and enjoy about the Fair – a chic day out to visit internationally renowned exhibitors offering for sale unique and varied objects of the highest quality under one roof. Our exhibitors will once again offer for sale works of art across every field in the market, that span over 4,000 years of art history.

This year the Fair will host over 150 exhibitors, many of whom are returning to Masterpiece. In addition, we are welcoming significant new additions to the Fair – this year visitors can look forward to seeing Richard Green (London), Kraemer Gallery (Paris), Van Cleef & Arpels (Paris), Jacques de la Béraudière (Geneva), Nukaga Gallery (Tokyo), David Gill (London), and Nilufar (Italy), to name but a few.

Supporting our exhibitors are a carefully selected collection of partners and sponsors including the fair’s Principal Sponsor, Royal Bank of Canada, which is returning for it’s second year. This year cultural partners include The National Portrait Gallery, The Wallace Collection, The Courtauld Institute of Art and Sir John Soane’s Museum. We will also continue our longstanding partnership with Urban Caprice who will re-create four world class dining establishments within the Fair.

Finally, our charity partner for 2015 is the NSPCC with whom we shall be co-hosting The Art Gala at Masterpiece, which will take place on the 30th June.

“The diversity of our exhibitor offering gives our visitors unrivalled access to learn about and explore every individual art market.”

Sotheby’s Institute of Art is holding a Short Course Masterpiece London: Collecting and the Art Market at Masterpiece 2015. How does the fair lend itself to learning about collecting and art market?

The diversity of our exhibitor offering gives our visitors unrivalled access to learn about and explore every individual art market. The opportunity to discuss collecting with a multitude of experts, from 18th-Century continental furniture, to antiquity and design to Modern British art and jewellery (for example), is possible within the Fair. Our talks and events program aims to create a stimulating and engaging discussion surrounding the international art market as well as offer visitors the opportunity to hear from leaders in their fields about their particular markets.

What distinguishes London as an art world capital?

London is both commercially and culturally an important international centre for art. We are in a privileged position in that most of our major cultural institutions are free to visit, enabling those visiting and living in London and the UK to learn about a huge cross-section of cultural history. In addition, we sit in between other key markets in Asia and America making London an important transactional hub for the international art market.

Where did it all begin for you? How did you develop a passion for art?

I initially wanted to be in advertising, but after my second year at university I was offered the opportunity to work on a temporary basis in the Sotheby's Old Masters Department (with Julian Stock, Alex Bell and George Gordon). It felt like someone had let me peek through the keyhole into a new and varied world full of treasures. I saw great works of art stacked high, all arranged and patiently awaiting their fate under the hammer. It was then I knew I had to work in the art world and I haven’t looked back since.

“I knew I had to work in the art world and I haven’t looked back since”

Tell us about your career trajectory and how you came to be CEO of Masterpiece London

I spent 19 years at Sotheby's, where I worked in Marketing and Client Relations, Decorative Arts, 20th-Century British Art, Contemporary Art, Jewellery and Old Masters, and as Managing Director of the Impressionist & Modern Art Department. It was an enriching period of career development and it led to me to set up my own art advisory firm. Through the network I had built for myself the scope of my advisory very quickly expanded into other fields. I soon found myself on the Mayor of London’s Advisory Board for Arts & Culture and consulting on the Shubbak Festival for contemporary Arab art. The opportunity to manage and direct the growth of an international art fair was an exciting opportunity for me, which would enable me to draw on skills and the network I developed during my time at Sotheby’s and as an art advisor.

What advice would you have for someone starting out in their career in the international art world?

Take as many opportunities as you can to meet people within the industry and keep engaged with news and developments in the international art world. Internships are an excellent and important way to gain experience in the art market.