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Staff Report

MAASTRICHT, NETHERLANDS, 30 MARCH 2007—The 20th anniversary of The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), which is held annually in the Dutch city of Maastricht, was notable for strong sales and record prices. That said, the number of visitors to the Fair was 71,000, down 15 percent from 2006. Many exhibitors commented that the lower visitor numbers had made the Fair more comfortable and the atmosphere more conducive to buying. During the fair 305 private planes landed at Maastricht airport, a 45% increase compared to 2006 and a phenomenon also noted at  Art Basel Miami Beach in December. The big news, however, was the presence of Sotheby's and Christie's at the fair for the first time. Their presence was unwelcome and a constant source of gossip by dealers at Maastricht because auction houses are seen as unhealthy competition with a tendancy to inflate prices during the excitement of auctions.  For example, in January, Sotheby's New York auctioned Rembrandt's Saint James the Greater for $25.8 million

Some of the important sales among the more than 200 dealers at Maastricht included: 

Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art, London and New York sold a 2,200 year old bronze tapir to a Chinese collector who, according to James Hennessy, is considering presenting it to a major Chinese museum. The tapir, inlaid with gold and turquoise was made in about the 4th century BC during the Warring States period and is the most expensive ancient Chinese bronze ever to have come onto the market with an asking price of $12 m (£6.1m). 

Bronze tapir
Photo courtesy of Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art 

Another highlight of the Fair was sold by David Koetser Gallery, Zurich . Portrait of a Young Girl by painted by Jan Lievens in 1631 when he was at the height of his career and working closely with Rembrandt was sold to an American private collector for slightly under £2 million (€3.1 million).  

European old master paintings sold well throughout the Fair. Noortman Master Paintings, Maastricht sold Danseuses, an oil on canvas painting by Edgar Degas, originally conceived in the late 1870s and reworked a decade later; as well as twenty further paintings including work by Fantin-Latour, Sisley, Caillebotte and Van der Neer.  Haboldt & Co, Paris and New York , sold a number of works including a very charming still-life by Adriaen Coorte, Still Life with Asparagus, Strawberries, Gooseberries and Plum on a Stone Ledge, signed and dated 1703.  Galerie Canesso, Paris mounted a special exhibition of 17th and 18th - century Neapolitan pictures and sold around half the paintings on his stand, many to new clients. His sales included Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem by François de Nomé (1593-1640) and Forest Scene with sea-shells, tortoises, mushrooms and roses, oil on canvas by Paolo Porpora (1617-1673).  Konrad Bernheimer sold Ill Matched Couple by Lukas Cranach the Elder to a German private collector, who usually collects modern and contemporary art.

The Modern and Contemporary section continued to perform well. Sales included Femme à la Coiffe d’Arlèsienne sur fond vert, a 1936 oil on canvas by Picasso, which was sold for $15 million (£7.7million, €11.26m) by Wildenstein , New York to a private collector. Galerie Jan Krugier from Geneva reported a very good Fair selling amongst other things an untitled work in acrylic and oil stick on canvas mounted on canvas from 1982 by Jean-Michel Basquiat to a private collector and a collage by Georges Braque entitled Bouteille et instruments de musique, which was formerly in the collection of René Gaffé. Galerie Thomas from Munich sold work by Asger Jorn, Fernando Botero and Heinrich Campendonk while Landau Fine Art, Montreal sold a mixed media piece, entitled Schwarze Maske, 1938 by Paul Klee to a Belgian collector. Karsten Greve’s sales included one of John Chamberlain’s highly sought-after steel sculptures entitled, Deadeye Dick, 1961.

John Chamberlain: Deadeye Dick, 1982
Photo courtesy of Galerie Karsten Greve

Antiques and Works of Art forms the largest section at TEFAF and attracts major collectors from around the world. Jan Roelofs Antiquairs, Amsterdam sold a rare 17th-century rosewood and ebony Portuguese collector’s cabinet on its original stand to a French collector. Other furniture sales included a rare George I blue and gold Japanned bureau cabinet with Chinese figures, scenes and flowers which was sold by Pelham Galleries, London and Paris, and from the stand of London dealers, Harris Lindsay, the Arundel Table, an extraordinary piece originally owned by Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel, which was created from a pair of marble table supports attributed to François Dieussart, c. 1625 and an inscribed top, 1754, dedicated to the memory of a family dog. Among the sales at Perrin Antiquaires, Paris was an exceptional terracotta maquette by François Rude (1784-1855) of the head of a Gaul for the frontispiece of the Arc du Triomphe, Paris, which sold to an American collector.  Kunstkammer Georg Laue, Munich reported a good Fair and sold a Renaissance travelling chess set from Nurenberg to an Austrian collector.

Antiquities were very much in demand. Jean-David Cahn, Basel sold  amongst other items an over life-size torso of a Greek male figure, marble, 2nd century BC, that was discovered on the seabed and sold to a private collector for an undisclosed sum.

The dates of the next edition of The European Fine Art Fair are 7 - 16 March 2008.

Related CK Archives

Rembrandt's Saint James the Apostle Sells for $25.8 Million at Sotheby's

Art Basel Miami Beach: Spectacle or Substance?

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