ARTnewsletter Archive

Maastricht Fair Maintains Premier Status

The annual art and antiques fair in Maastricht, Holland, known as TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) and held from March 18–27, reported attendance of 73,478 visitors from 55 countries—including representatives from over 180 international museums—who descended on the border city.

MAASTRICHT—The annual art and antiques fair in Maastricht, Holland, known as TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) and held from March 18–27, reported attendance of 73,478 visitors from 55 countries—including representatives from over 180 international museums—who descended on the border city. This was up a notch when compared with attendance of 72,500 last year.

Art insurers Hiscox estimated there was $3.2 billion of goods on view. There was no shortage of cash—154 private jets landed at the tiny local airport during the fair—but with news of escalating conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East, and natural and nuclear disasters in Japan, spending was probably not as free as it might have been. Nevertheless, an encouraging number of sales were made.

Old Masters are at the heart of the Maastricht fair, and dealers frequently offer collectors a second chance on works that have recently appeared at auction. London dealer Richard Green sold Portrait of the Countess of Wilton by Thomas Lawrence—bought at Christie’s last December (ANL, 12/28/10), for a triple-estimate price of £1.8 million ($2.8 million)—which hung commandingly at the entrance to his Maastricht stand and went for an undisclosed price. Also recently at auction was a Peter Paul Rubens discovery, Emperor Commodus as Hercules and Gladiator, ca. 1597–99, found unattributed in a French auction by Jack Kilgore, New York, who sold the piece at TEFAF for $1.25 million. Similarly, a view of Haarlem by Gerrit Berckheyde at Noortman Master Paintings—bought at Christie’s London in December 2010 for £2.6 million ($4.1 million)—now sold for €4.5 million ($6.3 million), to Florida collectors Eijk and Rose-Marie van Otterloo. Noortman also sold a 1649 Salomon van Ruisdael river scene for €2.5 million ($3.5 million), and a 1631 Willem Claesz Heda still life for €3 million ($4.2 million), to another U.S. collector.

London dealer Johnny van Haeften confirmed he sold a painting of a Dutch country house by Jan van der Heyden for €1.6 million ($2.3 million).

Other significant Old Master sales were made by Senger Bamberg Kunsthandel, Germany, which sold Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Virgin and Child with Infant St John, which was formerly in the collection of the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, for €2.9 million ($4.1 million); the Koetser Gallery, Zurich, which sold a William van de Velde the Younger sea view for €3 million ($4.2 million) to U.S. collector David Koch; and by Kunsthandel P. de Boer, Amsterdam, which sold two works, an Abraham Storck marine painting for €125,000 ($176,030) to a Dutch collector; and a Daniel de Blieck 17th-century church interior to a U.K. collector for €170,000 ($239,400).

Confirmed sculpture sales included a pair of rediscovered Baroque works, Jupiter and Juno, by Giuseppe Piamontini, at Daniel Katz, sold for €1.6 million ($2.3 million) to a U.S. collector, and Charles Cordier’s pair, Said Abdullah and Venus Africaine, 1855, sold for €85,000 ($119,700) by dealer Robert Bowman.

Asian art was inevitably watched closely. Grace Tsumugi, London, sold a rare 1890s silver-and-copper incense burner decorated with mythical dragons by Japan’s Shoami Katsuyoshi, for €500,000 ($704,125).

Chinese buyers were in evidence, and not just buying Chinese art: A 19th-century sculpture, Flora and Zephyr Dancing, by Giovanni Maria Benzoni, went for €400,000 ($563,300) at Wijermars Fine Art, Holland; from Gisèle Croës, Brussels, a 15th-century bronze bell from the Chenghua reign sold for €800,000 ($1.1 million). Chinese buyers also bought some Japanese works from Malcolm Fairley, London, priced up to €40,000 ($56,330). “Chinese collectors are beginning to recognize the value of Japanese art,” Fairley told ARTnewsletter. “The signs are that this market could have a long way to go.”

Richard Redding, Zurich, had the monumental coronation painting of Napoleon by Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson and sold it for over €150,000 ($211,240). Napoleon had ordered 26 of them, 13 were painted, and this was one of them.

Lively Interest in Antiquities

Though small, the antiquities section is always a draw for collectors at Maastricht. Rupert Wace, London, reported several sales including a third-century Egyptian goose, sold for €380,000 ($535,135) to a French collector, and a Roman cinerary urn, discovered in a country-house sale in Britain—having been used as a lamp stand—sold to Christian Levett, founder of the new Mougins Museum of Classical Art in the South of France for €1 million ($1.4 million).

Jerome Eisenberg of Royal-Athena Galleries, New York, said: “It was even better than last year!” He sold about a dozen pieces, including a polychrome terracotta triton by an unknown master of the Renaissance period in Italy, formerly thought to be late Roman. The price was $325,000.

A cloud hanging over proceedings was the proposed increase in import VAT to Holland from 6 percent to 19 percent next year. “If this goes ahead, it could kill the golden goose” said Asian art dealer, Richard Littleton. However, the impact was played down by fair representatives who said it would only affect sales to Dutch residents.

Momentum Builds in Modern/Contemporary

In the modern and contemporary art section some galleries had not reapplied, notably Hauser & Wirth, L&M Arts and Luxembourg & Dayan. Collectors at Maastricht tend to take more time deciding on purchases than at more specialized contemporary art fairs, but early sales were promising.

The Kukje Gallery, Seoul, sold a 2008 Anish Kapoor mirrored-steel disc for £600,000 ($962,210), to a Korean collector. Ben Brown from London and Hong Kong made several sales including a Ron Arad aluminum armchair for €110,000 ($154,900), and Miquel Barceló’s painting Sgraie Vertical, 2005, for €300,000 ($422,475), Belgium’s Axel Vervoordt sold El Anatsui’s Flag for a New World, 2006, to a Russian collector for €680,000 ($957,610), as well as a 1930s Art Deco table by Eugene Printz for €750,000 ($1.1 million),.

Haunch of Venison sold Adrian Ghenie’s fresh-from-the-studio painting Doctor Josef 2, for €45,000 ($63,370). The gallery also sold half a dozen works by Joana Vasconcelos for about €40,0000 ($56,330). New York dealer Christophe van de Weghe sold a 1981 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting for $2.5 million, as well as Christopher Wool’s Night of the Cookers, 1999, for $1.5 million. Another Wool, Untitled (P447), 2004, sold at $850,000 from a neighboring stand, Odermatt-Vedovi of Brussels and Paris. Both Wools were sold to European collectors, the dealers said.

European museums were notably on the hunt for works by Zero group artist, Heinz Mack, one selling to MACBA (Barcelona), and two at Beck & Eggeling, Düsseldorf, held on reserve for the Frieder Burda Museum in Baden-Baden—all at undisclosed prices.

Among the more notable modern-art sales were a 1935 Pablo Picasso drawing of Dora Maar, bought at Sotheby’s London in June 2010 for £493,000 ($1.5 million), and sold by Noortman Master Paintings, Amsterdam, for €2 million ($2.8 million); Auguste Rodin’s lifetime cast Man with a Broken Nose, sold by Robert Bowman, London, for €180,000 ($253,485): a rare 1945 Joan Miró carving, Oiseau Lunaire, sold by Robert Landau, Montreal, for $5 million, and Henri Laurens’s 1935 bronze, Grande Table, Cariatide, sold for $500,000, also at Landau.

Galerie Thomas, Munich, sold a sculpture of a horse by Marino Marini, about 40 cm (16 in.) high, to a collector for €170,000 ($239,400).