What do French luxury leader Bernard Arnault, Spanish businesswoman Alicia Koplowitz and flamboyant Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi have in common? They are rich, famous, and interested in art. They are also frequent visitors to one of the most influential art and antiquities’ fairs in the world: The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, Netherlands. Founded in 1988, TEFAF is considered one of the most elegant and prosperous events in the European cultural calendar.
TEFAF welcomes members of the Dutch royal family as well as Qatari princes and princesses looking for the finest examples of art and antiques. The fair also hosts celebrated artists like Ai Weiwei from China and famous international fashion designers like Calvin Klein. It is estimated that 80 percent of the most coveted works for sale worldwide are shown at TEFAF. In fact, the event has often been described as a “museum where everything is for sale”. In total, 275 galleries from 30 countries exhibit 30,000 pieces dating from prehistoric times to the present day. More on art and culture.
For its 2015 edition, from March 13 to 22, art connoisseurs will fill the small Maastricht Aachen Airport with their private jets. The regular guests already know the rules: no dogs, umbrellas, or cameras, and no artwork will be allowed for appraisal. And although the fair is held in a nondescript Convention Center, the venue is full of exquisite details. The rugs and carpets, tulips everywhere and an assortment of oysters and champagne for the VIP, courtesy of the organizers, make the venue an inviting destination for the discerning guests.
TEFAF Maastricht places particular emphasis on the methods used to establish and guarantee the authenticity of each artwork on display. Participating dealers are admitted only after a rigorous selection process and the innovative system of vetting consists of about 175 international experts in 29 different categories. The professionals examine the quality, authenticity and condition of each piece, from contemporary works to medieval art and archeological pieces spanning over 7,000 years of history.
This year, TEFAF debuts the first edition of Night Fishing, a presentation by author and collector Sydney Picasso–daughter of the great Spanish painter–curated to compliment TEFAF’s Modern Art section. The exhibition introduces works created by postmodern and contemporary artists. Another news related to the fair is that Paul Hustinx, who was TEFAF’s chairman for 17 years, will be replaced by Patrick Van Maris, former CEO of Sotheby’s in Europe. The change will become effective on May 1st. ■