Art Basel postponed since Switzerland closes borders

Art Basel, one of the art world’s biggest events, has been postponed due to the spread of coronavirus pandemic in Europe. It was announced that the four-day event will be rescheduled to take place in September.

Last year, the art fair attracted more than 93,000 visitors from around the world. This year, it was due to take place in June. However, following the policy of tightened travel restrictions across Europe, a press release of organizers said that the decision to postpone was reached “in close consultation with a wide range of collectors, gallerists, partners, and external experts, with the aim of protecting the health and safety of our community, as well as ensuring that the event will be attended by the biggest possible number of collectors, arts professionals, and curators from our global network.”

Art Basel is one of the major events in the cultural calendar, offering more than 250 galleries the opportunity to court collectors in an industry that is still heavily dependent on in-person sales. Organizers haven’t announced details about compensation or refunds for exhibiting galleries and ticket holders.

Global Director of Art Basel Marc Spiegler suggested that the new fair dates, currently set for September 17-20, might change once again, depending on how dynamic the Covid-19 situation is.

Presently, the Swiss government’s ban on public events only runs till April 19 while Art Basel was not set to begin until June 18. The number of confirmed cases in Switzerland, which borders northern Italy, keeps growing. The country has thus far reported about 10,000 infections – more than both the UK and South Korea – with 153 dead cases due to the virus.

Art Basel has joined a growing list of art fairs to be postponed or canceled because of the virus. These cancellations are likely to have a significant economic impact, with fairs responsible for more than $16 billion in transactions in 2019.