A historic art gallery and a West End hotel are locked in a legal dispute which is set to be heard at London’s Royal Courts of Justice.
Franses Gallery, which was founded in 1909, has been operating from premises at The Cavendish hotel for the past quarter of a century.
However, the hotel, owned by Singapore-based CapitaLand, has refused to extend the gallery’s lease for a further 15 years, putting the two parties on a collision course.
The future of Franses at the site had first been thrown into doubt by plans to redevelop the ground floor of The Cavendish and create two new shop units.
While this proposal was eventually withdrawn, the gallery is still facing eviction from the premises, with its director Simon Franses describing the dispute as a “David versus Goliath” style struggle.
“Capita seem unaware that this is the heart of the St James’s Art District, the world’s greatest concentration of art expertise,” he said. “It always seemed irrational to try to replace us with fashion outlets, which are against the council’s stated policy.
“Any replacement would now be limited to art, antique or bespoke, and would pay an equivalent rent to us.”
Alfred Ong, a senior director at CapitaLand subsidiary The Ascott, said: “Franses’s leases have come to an end and an application for their renewal is the subject of court proceedings. We would be happy to comment once that litigation has been concluded.”