Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Investing in beauty: The European Fine Art Fair, Holland

TEFAF is the place to learn about art and the global art market.
If TEFAF Maastricht is the mother of all commercial art fairs, she is a gracious hostess with a salon full of fresh flowers and the best-informed minds of the international art world.
Often described as an incredible once-a-year museum in which everything is for sale, TEFAF this year hosted 260 of the world's top art and antiques dealers showing everything from classical antiquities to crave-worthy jewellery by Lalique and Cartier to masterworks by names straight out of art history textbooks: Canaletto, Breughel, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rodin, Matisse, Koons, Warhol, Bacon, to name just a few.
TEFAF's Haute Joaillerie section dazzles.
Over 150 private jets landed in Maastricht, Netherlands, between March 17 and 27.  I arrived by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines via Amsterdam as part of a North American press group invited by Visit Holland to experience the world's most important art and antiques fair firsthand.  We checked into the whimsical Hotel Mabi in Maastricht's historic heart, then it was on to the fair.
With a stint in commercial gallery sales in my past, I had some idea what to expect on the business end of things.  And with prices for many items in the multimillions, big business was definitely, quietly, afoot.  What I didn't expect was the convivial, festive ambience that makes TEFAF such a pleasure: fresh flowers by the thousands, excellent dining options, individually-designed gallery spaces providing intimate viewing areas, experts to learn from, an informed and passionate crowd.
A fairy-filled work by J.A. Fitzgerald (1823-1906).
Why attend TEFAF Maastricht if you don't have a few million Euro to spend?  The enchantment and emotion of seeing so much fragile beauty and history in one place.  To be in the company of--and learn from--people who have dedicated their working lives to art and those who choose to invest their money in the robust economy of culture and and tangible objects that are so much more than an asset.
A rare 7,000 year-old Greek idol.
Whether investing in art or just in your own pleasure, TEFAF Maastricht offers a brief window in time in which to glimpse rare and precious pieces before they pass from one private collection to another.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary next year, TEFAF Maastricht 2012 promises to be even more extraordinary.

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