A rumored sale of New York’s Armory Show and other art fairs to Louise Blouin of LTB Media has fallen through, according to three sources in the industry who spoke to A.i.A. off the record. No less than the New York Times reported early this year that rumors of the Blouin sale were circulating.
Part of the reason the Blouin deal is not going through, according to these sources, may be that the offer required the buyer to take on costs of renovating Pier 94, which is owned by Vornado Realty Trust.
A.i.A. first broke the story in September that the Armory Show, the Volta Show and Art Platform Los Angeles, the art fairs currently owned by Chicago-based Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., were being offered for sale.
Representatives of MMPI and LTB Media declined to comment for this article.
The Armory Show was launched as the Gramercy International Art Fair in 1994 by dealers Matthew Marks, Colin de Land, Pat Hearn and Paul Morris. In 1999 the fair moved to the 69th Regiment Armory building and was re-christened the Armory Show, a name the fair has retained despite moving to two West Side piers in the early 2000s.
In recent years the Armory Show has faced increasing competition from younger fairs such as Frieze, which will host its second New York edition this year. The Armory’s inhospitable setting and gigantic size (even the slimmed-down 2013 edition includes over 200 exhibitors) made it generally dreaded among visitors and dealers, and the fair has gone to some lengths in recent years to improve the experience, inviting architects to design the spaces and upgrading their culinary offerings.
Blouin is the owner of Artinfo.com and magazines including Art + Auction, which are based in New York, and in 2005 she founded the Louise T. Blouin Foundation to support cultural development around the world.