Statue of Athena holding Nike inside the Nashville Parthenon. Photo: Art Nashville.

Inaugural Art Nashville Fair Delayed, Again; Dealers Resigned to Losses

After the inaugural edition of the Art Nashville fair was pushed back a year, organizers Matthew Eck and Pierre Lamoureux have postponed its debut, again—instead of opening in October, it is now supposed to kick off in May 2020. The news prompted several dealers who have already invested thousands of dollars in the event to ask for refunds.

According to Artnet, dealers who want to have their participation fees returned are facing difficulties obtaining the money from the fair, which allegedly owes $120,000 to exhibitors. Additional funds were squandered on airfare and hotel arrangements that are no longer needed. Losses for galleries range from $2,000 to more than $15,000.

Eck, an entrepreneur who describes himself as an “experience creator,” pitched the fair as an opportunity for galleries to access new markets. Art Nashville’s website originally listed a $100 application fee, a nonrefundable $3,000 deposit, and varying costs for booths, based on size. It has now been reduced to a single page that simply reads: “More information to come.”

Dealers report that the organizers were initially responsive to requests for refunds but have become increasingly less available to gallerists seeking reparations. “There has been deafening silence from Matthew and Pierre for months now about making things right,” Jane Eckert, of Eckert Fine Art, in Kent, Connecticut, told Artnet.

When reached for comment, Eck said: “Everyone will get paid in time. I am doing my best to do so. The only way galleries will lose their money is through bankruptcy or character assassination, which is not the plan.” Lamoureux noted that the outstanding fees were spent on public relations firms, freelancers, advertising, and travel expenses to Nashville, and that the money was “not spent irresponsibly.”

The pair claim to have suffered a major setback when a deal with a real estate company fell through and are currently “pursuing a bunch of other projects” to generate revenue. They also say that they have already returned $48,000 to dealers.

This is not the first time an arts venture of Eck’s has gone south. In 2015, he launched an event called X-Contemporary, which coincided with Art Basel Miami Beach. Following its second edition in 2016, Eck divested from the project; one year later, his former business partner Crystal Curtis filed for the business’s bankruptcy.