The Market  |  By Laura Beach

Seen and Heard at the European Fine Art Fair: TEFAF Day One

March 16, 2012  |  "The museum doesn't have a shopping list but I hope our collectors do," said MFA Boston director Malcolm Rogers, who accompanied a group of American collectors through the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) on its opening day, March 15.

"I could be tempted to collect Old Master pictures instead of contemporary art," Whitney Museum of American Art director Adam D. Weinberg confessed to Boston collectors Ted and Barbara Alfond, part of the MFA delegation to the show, organized annually in Maastricht, The Netherlands. TEFAF was founded as a showcase for Old Masters pictures but has grown to encompass 265 exhibitors in a range of specialities, from antiquities to contemporary art.

Wednesday, Netherlands Queen Beatrix made a private tour of the fair, which has pulled out the stops in celebration of its silver jubilee. "Her personal taste runs more to contemporary art but she did admire our Bosschaert the Elder painting of flowers," said the London-based Old Masters dealer Johnny van Haeften.  Painted on copper, the work was priced £1.95 million.

Johnny van Haeften, a London based specialist in Dutch and Flemish Old Masters, takes questions from the press.

Show chairman Ben Janssens noted that more than 100 collectors from China, the largest group ever, are expected to visit in 2012. Janssens and other TEFAF representatives travelled to Beijing and Shanghai last fall to court Chinese buyers, who must obtain visas to visit. The Dutch born specialist in Asian art racked up multiple sales in the early hours of the fair. Scrupulous vetting makes TEFAF especially attractive to collectors of Chinese art, a field said to be rife with fakes.

Robert Aronson, the Amsterdam dealer known for his spectacular Delft pottery, nixed rumors that the recent hike in the Dutch Value Added Tax to 19% might prompt TEFAF to move to Brussels. "No one on the executive committee wants that," says Aronson, who is himself an executive committee member.

Robert Aronson of Aronson Antiquairs in Amsterdam featured this pair of circa 1735 Dutch delftware plaques decorated with portraits of Wiliiam IV and Anne, the dutch Prince and Princess of Orange

Strolling oyster shuckers kept hunger at bay among the hundreds of enthusiasts who previewed TEFAF today. More than 70,000 art lovers are expected to visit the show before it closes on March 25 at the massive MECC convention center.

Caterers plied guests at the by-invitation-only preview on March 15 with oysters, a favorite culinary featur of the opening event

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