From the Observer
If the British were not such a docile nation, the opening of the Masterpiece London for buyers of “to die for” luxuries, would have provoked riots in the streets. The timing could not have been worse. In the week in which George Osborne presented a budget whose punishment of the humble for a recession brought on by the mighty looks nastier by the day, dealers turned the site of the old Chelsea Barracks into a temple of conspicuous consumption. Never has good taste seemed such poor form.
To describe the extravaganza as an art or antiques sale would be to miss its scope. The organisers of Masterpiece have not tried to woo a specific market, but assembled a mishmash of exhibitors, who have little in common beyond their determination to sell extremely expensive items to extraordinarily wealthy customers. If you have to ask the prices of the rare pink diamonds from Asprey, the Fabergé pieces of A La Vieille Russie, the regency bookcases, the 1932 Bugatti, the black walnut billiard table or the De Bethune watches which look so enticing in their gold and platinum cases… you probably can’t afford them. If you catch glimpses of paintings which remind you of Renoir or Constable amid the fine wine, jewellery and furniture, that will be because they are by Renoir or Constable.