Frieze New York 2018. Photo: Mark Blower / Frieze.

Shane Campbell Gallery Files $15 Million Lawsuit Against Frieze over Extreme Heat

Chicago’s Shane Campbell Gallery is suing Frieze for failing to cool down its big tent during the seventh edition of its New York fair, which took place on Randall’s Island last month. The gallery filed the lawsuit with its co-owner Julie N. Campbell, demanding $15 million plus damages, on Friday June 8, only one day after organizers of the event offered its nearly two hundred exhibitors a 10 percent refund.

The complaint alleges that the fair admitted it was aware of an impending heat wave “but was grossly negligent in preparing the site for such heat and ensuring a reasonably efficient air conditioning system.” It claims that because of the extreme temperatures “art customers, collectors, consultants, and their clients and other attendees could not remain in the site and were forced to leave” and that exhibitors “suffered substantial financial losses” as a result.

“This case is not about us,” Campbell told Artnet via her attorney, Lewis Saul. “It’s about holding a professional organization responsible for the losses caused by its failure to provide functional space. All the galleries invest so much to set up a booth at the fair. Frieze simply did not do their job.”

This year’s edition featured a redesigned tent, which divided the fair into multiple sections. While it strived to create a better exhibition space, its decision to relocate the air-conditioning vents from the floor to the upper levels may have been one of the reasons why the tent was so hot.

Almost a month after the fair closed, Frieze’s management team—fair director Victoria Siddall, cofounders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, and artistic director Loring Randolph—sent a letter to all of the galleries that participated in the event, saying that they had believed that the tent’s new HVAC system would be able to handle the record-breaking temperatures. It read: “Our intention has only ever been to create a fantastic experience for you, your clients and artists, so we are truly saddened and sorry for this and want you to know we are working now to ensure it can never happen again.”