Strong Sales at TEFAF Silver Jubilee

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands visits TEFAF Maastricht 2012.  The Royal visit was part of a series of events marking the Silver Jubilee of TEFAF Maastricht.  Photo: Harry Heuts
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands visits TEFAF Maastricht 2012. The Royal visit was part of a series of events marking the Silver Jubilee of TEFAF Maastricht. Photo: Harry Heuts

TEFAF Maastricht celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012 with 72,000 visitors over the course of the fair, held from March 15 to 24. Of these 44% came from outside the Netherlands with a marked increase in buyers from Russia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.  85% of visitors describe themselves as private buyers, of which more than 21% were visiting for the first time.

Ben Janssens, Chairman of the Executive Committee commented, “Having participated in the Fair from the outset in 1988, I have been astounded by the number of new clients I have met and sold to this year.” 

Collecting interests of visitors were spread almost equally between the three biggest areas of the Fair - Old Master paintings (30%), antiques (36%) and modern and contemporary (34%).  More than 34% of all visitors stayed at least one night in Maastricht or the surrounding area.

A major painting by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, a powerful portrait of the English king Henry VIII, a sculpture by Anish Kapoor and an important and historic piece of silver were just some of the sales.

Noortman Master Paintings of Amsterdam had a strong start to the Fair selling two important still lifes by Dutch painters - Flowers in a terracotta vase by Jan van Huysum and Adrian Coorte’s Three peaches on a ledge. The Fine Art Society from London is exhibiting a contemporary take on classic Dutch still lifes with Rob and Nick Carter’s Transforming Still Life Painting, a three hour digitally engineered film of one of Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s greatest paintings. Bob Haboldt, an Old Master paintings dealer at TEFAF, bought one of the limited edition films for his private collection leaving just one available for purchase. An unconventional work from a much earlier age, A reversible anthropomorphic portrait of a man composed of fruit by the 16th century Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo was sold to a European private collector by French & Company of New York.


Silver sales were also strong with an American private collector buying The Walpole Inkstand for which Koopman Rare Art of London was asking $5 million. This important and historic piece is one of only two made by the great silversmith Paul de Lamerie in 1729 for Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of Great Britain. The other is owned by the Bank of England. John Endlich Antiquairs from Haarlem sold a classic piece of 17th century Dutch silver, a tazza made by the Delft silversmith Cornelis van der Burch in 1604, which was once in the Ritman Collection, for an undisclosed sum.

A rare Egyptian limestone relief depicting Queen Hatshepshut, one of the first women to rule in her own right rather than as the wife of a male Pharaoh, attracted huge interest before the Fair and was quickly sold at the private view to an American private collector for “a substantial six figure sum” by Rupert Wace Ancient Art of London. Very few images of Hatshepshut, who ruled from 1479 to 1458BC, have survived. Another antiquities dealer, Royal-Athena Galleries of New York, sold a Roman bronze torso of Aphrodite 1st-2nd century AD which had an asking price of $375,000, while Kunsthandel Mieke Zilverberg of Amsterdam sold a very early bronze Villanova/Italic two-wheeled model of a chariot from the 8th-7th centuries BC to the Allard Pierson Museum at the University of Amsterdam.    

TEFAF Modern also performed well with Gana Art of Seoul, Korea selling an untitled 2011 stainless steel sculpture by Anish Kapoor to a European collector while Daniel Blau of Munich sold more than 20 of his exhibition of 1950s drawings by Andy Warhol for prices in the region of €50,000 to €60,000 each. The drawings proved so popular that he had to re-hang his stand. In TEFAF Paper an American collector bought nine vintage silver prints by Josef Sudek from photography dealer Johannes Faber of Vienna.

TEFAF Maastricht hosted 265 specialists from 19 different countries. Between them they exhibited more than 30,000 works of art, antiques and design objects from pre-history to the present day with an aggregate value of more than 3 billion euros. “At TEFAF you get spoiled foreve,r” commented American collector, Jean Doyen de Montaillou.

TEFAF is often referred to as a museum in which everything is for sale. The displays created by dealers during the Fair are admired by collectors and museum professionals throughout the world. Susan Lynch, Chair of the Board of Directors and Patrons of the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, USA, commented that, “TEFAF is inspiring, educational and a delight.” Over the course of the Fair TEFAF attracted over 238 museums from 21 countries.

Before the Fair opened each object was examined for quality, authenticity and condition by 175 international experts on 29 separate specialist committees.  TEFAF Antiques is the biggest section in the Fair with 102 exhibitors. This is followed by the TEFAF Paintings with 59 and TEFAF Modern with 51.

During the Preview and the run of the Fair, visitors consumed 15.000 glasses of champagne; 31.000 wine; 75.000 cups of coffee; 10.000 pastries; 50.000 sandwiches and 11.000 oysters, which were served by 2300 waiters having been prepared by 515 cooks.

It is not only the works of art on display that attracts plaudits, the Fair itself is renowned for its presentation. ” There is no other Fair that looks like TEFAF”, commented Leo Villareal, whose specially commissioned light sculpture welcomed visitors in the entrance hall of the Fair.

Building the Fair is a major construction project that requires 220 men and women to work for 23 days of which 11 days are around the clock.  On the Monday before the Fair opened 20 people worked throughout the night to lay 15.000m² of carpet in the aisles of the Fair. The entrance hall was decked with 800m² of padded panelling. The stand builders drank 30,000 cups of coffee and used 250kg of sugar.

Flowers form an important element of the display at TEFAF Maastricht and the 2012 Fair was no exception. In 2012 over the duration of the Fair, the entrance display used 33,000 Avalanche roses; the corridors, squares and cafés decorated with 40,500 of the most exclusive multi-coloured long-stalked French tulips, augmented by 4,500 branches of magnolia or cherry blossoms while the arrangements in the Place de La Concorde used 24,000 multi-coloured short-stemmed Dutch tulips.  

360 extra flights were reported at Aachen- Maastrich airport during course of the Fair, in what the airport acknowledges is their busiest period of the year.

Next year the European Fine Art Fair will take place between 15-24 March at the MECC Maastricht.

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