Soaring rents due to competition from fashion houses leads to reluctant decision to move from historic five-storey townhouse.

After more than 140 years, The Fine Art Society (FAS) is giving up its well known premises on Bond Street in London’s Mayfair. FAS has occupied the five-story townhouse at 148 New Bond Street since 1871, championing artists such as John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler, who had his first solo show in the gallery in 1883. But a report sent to shareholders this week says the company “has reluctantly decided to put the lease up for sale”.The letter continues: “Whilst the topic of London’s location has been reviewed regularly by your board of directors, with the prospect of another substantial increase in the next review date in June 2019, coupled with the soaring level of the Westminster Council’s business rates, we have reluctantly decided to put the lease up for sale. The marketing of the lease has started this week.”

Rents and rates on the building reportedly amounted to more than £1m per year. FAS’s decision follows the departure of numerous other stalwart Bond Street art and antiques dealerships—including Colnaghi, Agnew’s, Mallett and S.J. Phillips—from street-level galleries to more affordable spaces on higher floors or on surrounding streets. The exodus is largely attributed to an influx of wealthy international fashion houses to the street over the past decade, competition that has pushed up rents sharply. Richard Green is only non-contemporary gallery still on Bond street at street level, but the gallery owns the freehold on both their buildings…read more

Photo: The Fine Art Society’s townhouse gallery at 148 Bond Street | By Alan Stanton| The Fine Art Society