MAASTRICHT—Exhibitors at the latest edition of The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), held from March 10-19 at the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre, Netherlands, saw a surge in attendance and reaped strong sales of works ranging from Old Masters to modern art.
“This fair is the best we ever had,” Munich dealer Konrad O. Bernheimer, head of TEFAF’s paintings sector, told ARTnewsletter. Fair organizers report that the number of visitors rose by 8 percent above last year’s attendance, from 77,500 to a record 84,000. During the first four days of the show, the arrival of 169 private jets almost overloaded Maastricht’s local airport.
On hand were at least 110 registered museum curators and other representatives, including those from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin; and Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Thematically the most discussed issue at this fair was the more intimate and intricate mix of antique, old, modern and even contemporary art. Asked if there were any challenging or even negative competition for the traditional exhibitors by this year’s enriched modern art sector, Bernheimer told ARTnewsletter that more buyers than ever of modern and even contemporary art were flocking in and actually purchasing the Old Masters at his stand.
These buyers realize that Old Master paintings are “bargains compared to many works of contemporary or modern art,” Bernheimer observes. He sees the strengthened 20th-century art sector not as competition but, rather, as enrichment to the whole fair.
As in past editions of TEFAF, selling was especially active at the professional preview on March 9 and during the first hours of the fair’s opening day, March 10. Maastricht dealer Robert Noortman, an Old Master specialist and TEFAF founder, reports selling a 1902 Paris view by Camille Pissarro for €950,000 ($1.14 million); and Bernheimer says he sold a biblical scene, Jesus Calling the Children, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), for €2 million ($2.4 million), to name some.
Van Ostade Work Brings $4.8 Million
Noortman notes that by the fair’s midpoint, he had sold about 32 paintings with a total value of €18 million (about $22 million), among them an Interior by Isack van Ostade (1621-49) that fetched €4 million ($4.8 million).
Meanwhile, in the same time frame, affirms London dealer Johnny van Haeften, he sold 22 works for a total of $6 million.
Nonetheless, some of the art fair’s most visible highlights remained unsold by the end of the show, including two works by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn: The Apostle James the Major, 1661, had an asking price of $35 million at New York’s Salander-O’Reilly Galleries; and Portrait of a Man in a Red Doublet, 1633, carried a price of $27 million at Noortman’s booth.
A $10.5 million work by Bernardo Bellotto (1721-80)—Venice: The Grand Canal with the Church of San Stae—went unsold at London’s Simon Dickinson Ltd. Dealer David Koetser, Zurich, displayed Frans Hals’ Portrait of Pieter Jacobsz. Olycan, circa 1629, for €10 million ($12.4 million); but despite some museum interest, it was unsold by the fair’s end.
Koetser also offered the large Peasant Wedding Procession, 1630, by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, for $3.5 million, charging a moderate 30 percent more than the $2.7 million he had paid for it six weeks earlier, on Jan. 26, at Sotheby’s Old Master sale in London.
Most buyers seemed unbothered by the fact that many of the paintings on offer had been purchased at auctions in London and New York during the previous two years for well-known prices.
A Prominence of Modern Art
This year’s TEFAF fair included a larger proportion of modern art: Leslie Waddington, owner of London’s Waddington Galleries, for example, reports sales of about $4/5 million, including a large painting by Nicolas de Stael; a LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana; a work by Patrick Heron and two large sculptures by Barry Flanagan.
New York’s Gagosian Gallery reports the sale of a Mobile by Alexander Calder (1898-1976) that realized about $2 million.
“The fair was very successful, sales were amazing,” says Robert Landau, president of Landau Fine Art, Montreal. These included a large painting by Pablo Picasso, L’homme assis (Musketeer), 1972, though Landau declines to disclose the price.
In the classical antiquities sector, most objects were sought by seasoned collectors rather than buyers of modern and contemporary art. A life-size Greek marble statue, showing the thinly draped body of a woman from the 4th or 3rd century B.C. was sold at Basel’s Jean-David Cahn Gallery for €350,000 ($423,500) to a longtime antiquities collector.
CHRISTIAN VON FABER CASTELL