James Murdoch's Firm Aims for Art Basel Stake

James Murdoch

The mogul's Lupa Systems looks to invest in MCH Group, which organizes the global art fairs.

James Murdoch's investment firm is placing another bet on the global events business. 

The former 21st Century Fox CEO is looking to take a stake in Art Basel through his Lupa Systems fund, the owner of the global art fair platform, MCH Group, disclosed on July 10. 

The move is subject to a decision made at a general meeting of MCH Group on Aug. 3. The proposal includes adding Murdoch as well as several other Lupa Systems executives to the board of directors for MCH, which employs 860 staffers globally. 

"With Lupa Systems we have not only found an additional anchor shareholder but also a strategic partner that brings a breadth of experience and will help to accelerate the necessary transformation of the company," said Dr. Ulrich Vischer, chairman of MCH Group’s board of directors, in a statement. 

Art Basel canceled its September show in Basel, Switzerland this year, revealing plans for a June 2021 date. But plans for Art Basel Miami Beach, which brings together gallerists and art collectors, are still set for Dec. 3-6, amid a rise in novel coronavirus cases in Florida. According to the organizers, the Miami event drew 81,000 visitors for its 81st edition last December, hosting visitors from 70 countries. 

For Murdoch, a potential stake in Art Basel follows multiple investments in the technology, entertainment and festival sectors by Lupa Systems. In August of last year, Lupa partnered with Joe Marchese's Attention Capital to buy a majority stake in the organizers of the Tribeca Film Festival from the Madison Square Garden Company. 

Lupa Systems, founded in March 2019 as a venture for Murdoch after the $71.3 billion sale of most Fox assets to Disney, has also invested in Vice Media, comics publisher Artists Writers & Artisans, virtual reality firm The Void and former AOL executive John Borthwick's tech platform Betaworks. The firm is based in New York and Mumbai.

Murdoch said in a statement, in part, on the potential Art Basel deal:  "MCH Group’s long history of innovation for customers, civic commitment to economic and cultural life, and deep investment in its platforms and communities make for a long-term business that can grow, invest, and flourish."