MAASTRICHT—The European Art Fair (TEFAF) celebrated its Silver Jubilee in Maastricht, March 16–25, attracting 72,000 visitors, among whom were collectors from the US, Europe, China and the Middle East, and representatives of 234 different museums from around the globe.
Sales were as healthy as ever, with dealers from various disciplines, ranging from antiquities to contemporary art, bringing their best works.
The modern and contemporary art section, which is trying to attract more major European and American galleries to exhibit, recorded a number of early sales. Predictably there were numerous works by Gerhard Richter, and German dealer Paul Schönewald, who was sharing a stand with San Francisco dealer Anthony Meier, made several sales, including the 1987 painting titled Kleine Strasse, which was priced at €4.3 million ($5.6 million).
Christophe van de Weghe, New York, sold an Alexander Calder mobile for $1.8 million and an Andy Warhol Ladies and Gentlemen painting, 1975, for $2.5 million. Daniel Blau, Munich, had a display of 25, early Warhol drawings from the 1950s, acquired from the Warhol Foundation, 20 of which sold for prices ranging from €20,000/100,000 ($26,000/130,000) each.
Although this is not really a fair for younger artists, Gana Art, Seoul, sold an Anish Kapoor, circular mirrored sculpture, 2011, for $800,000, and Ben Brown, London, sold more than one edition of a large photographic diptych by Vik Muniz, depicting Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, priced in the region of $85,000 each.
Also selling fast: a watercolor by Ahmed Alsoudani, through Haunch of Venison, for $65,000; a large canvas by US-based, Middle Eastern artist Nabil Nahas, priced at $95,000 through Sperone Westwater; and two (from an edition of 12) small, framed animated films of a slow-moving still life, after Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, made by British artists Rob and Nick Carter at the Fine Art Society. Priced at $80,000, one sold to Paris, Old Master dealer Bob Haboldt.
The big sales at Maastricht were for older paintings and works of art. Chief among these was the large canvas titled Mankind’s Eternal Dilemma–the choice between Vice and Vertu, by 17th-century Flemish artist Frans Francken, which was sold by London dealer Johnny van Haeften to a private collector for a price said to be close to the €14 million ($18.2 million) asking price. The painting, which van Haeften bought at the Dorotheum in Vienna in April 2010 for €7 million ($9.1 million), is reportedly destined for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, according to sources familiar with the transaction.
The big sale at Bernheimer Fine Old Masters was an early Peter Paul Rubens painting, The Crucifixion, which was priced at €3.5 million ($4.6 million) and bought by Boston-based collectors Eijk and Rose-Marie van Otterloo. Meanwhile, London portrait dealer Mark Weiss sold most of the Tudor and Elizabethan paintings he had bought at the Cowdray Park sale in England last September—two Cornelius Johnson works to a Dutch museum, and three Howard ladies (Countess of Nottingham Catherine Carey and her two daughters Elizabeth and Frances Howard) to a new Russian buyer. The top sale for Weiss, though, was a £2.5 million ($4 million) portrait of King Henry VIII (artist unknown), which he had rediscovered at a sale in France.
Along with Old Masters, the works of art section is the biggest draw at Maastricht, and was this year’s focus of Chinese interest after the fair had invited several hundred collectors and journalists from the mainland. Brussels dealer Gisele Croes appeared to pick up the best sales with a double-handled, Chinese bronze vessel, 5th century B.C., and a gold and silver belt hook, 3rd or 4th century B.C., selling to Chinese buyers for $2.5 million and $600,000, respectively.
Other notable sales in this section included a Paul de Lamerie silver inkstand, 1729, which once belonged to British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole and sold for $5 million to a US buyer, through Koopman Rare Art; a Russian, imperial tripod gueridon, 18th century, which German dealer Peter Mühlbauer sold to a US collector for €580,000 ($754,000); a Gregorio di Lorenzo marble relief of King Ferrante of Naples, 15th century, which Britain’s Tomasso Brothers sold for €350,000 ($455,000); and a small terracotta model of a lion (for an unrealized monument) by Giovan Battista Foggini, another Florentine sculptor, which international dealers Moretti sold for €400,000 ($520,000).