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Art Basel in Basel 2019. Photo: Art Basel.
Art Basel in Basel 2019. Photo: Art Basel.

Art Basel’s Parent Company Lays Off 150 Employees

The novel coronavirus has become an unprecedented global challenge for the more than $1 trillion international events industry. Endeavor Group Holdings, which owns the Frieze art fairs, let 250 employees go in March, and now the MCH Group, the parent company of Art Basel, which was forced to cancel its Hong Kong fair and reschedule its marquee event in Switzerland due to COVID-19, has laid off 150 workers. According to Artnet, the employees were all members of the event giant’s marketing arm, MC2, and were based in the United States.

When the MCH Group bought a 100 percent holding in MC2 in 2017, it described the move as the biggest acquisition in the hundred-year history of the MCH Group. “The acquisition of MC2 marks a tremendous step forward in the implementation of our corporate strategy, which we have been pursuing since 2005,” René Kamm, CEO of MCH Group, said at the time. “With MC2, we will be greatly boosting our international presence and activities, as well as expanding our range of services in the live marketing field.” According to a release, MC2 employs more than 350 people across fifteen locations, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The MCH Group is also facing backlash over how it handled the postponement of its watch and jewelry trade show Baselworld. Forbes reports that Rolex, along with the luxury brands Patek Philippe, Chanel, Chopard, and Tudor, announced on Tuesday that they would withdraw from the 2021 event. The move followed open letters and complaints about how Baselworld dealt with refunds. The brands have since begun working with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie to launch a new event.