Visitors spend £25m at Britain's biggest art fair

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The Independent Online

Britain's biggest art fair comes to a close today with organisers expecting £25m worth of art to have changed hands.

The Frieze Art Fair is wide-ranging, from Damien Hirst one-offs at £200,000 to an image distributed free with London Tube maps.

The fair, held in Regent's Park in a tent-like structure designed by the architect David Adjaye, has been showing the work of 2,000 artists from commercial galleries in Moscow, Beijing, Melbourne, New York and Jerusalem, among others.

After New York, London is the world's biggest centre for contemporary art with annual sales thought to exceed £500m. Renowned public exhibitions and acclaimed artists have reinforced that reputation over 20 years. Paul Hedge of Hales gallery said that, with 150 exhibitors, the Frieze Art Fair had allowed galleries to catch up with talent.

"London in the 1990s was all about artists developing," he said. "The past few years it has been all about the infrastructure for art developing. There's Tate Modern, but also the galleries. In 1992 there were about 10 young alternative galleries. Now it's about 110."

Fons Welters, director of the Amsterdam-based Galarie Fons Welters, said: "There is so much good contemporary stuff here and the British are keen to buy, not just look."

Jean Bernier, director of Bernier/Eliades, the biggest gallery in Athens, said the London fair offered him exposure he could not expect in Greece. He sold several Gilbert and George paintings at the fair, including one for more than £50,000.

Destroying the Pain, a Damien Hirst etching and collage featuring packets of Ibuprofen is among the fair's top draws and is a reminder of his defunct Notting Hill venue The Pharmacy, the contents of which go on sale at Sotheby's today.