From Old Master Paintings to Rare Gems, TEFAF Brings Top-Notch Wares to New York

Just when you thought the global art calendar—between auctions, art fairs and biennials—couldn’t get any busier, TEFAF (the European Fine Art Fair), is almost here. The premier event, which opens for VIPs on Friday, October 21, is happening for the first time in New York.

The inaugural edition of the fair will take place at the Park Avenue Armory from October 22–26. Fair organizers say a New York platform something Maastricht exhibitors have been clamoring for, for years. Now they will get their wish, with with not one, but two editions of the fair annually, this first one in October and next year in May for spring, a practice it plans to continue for the foreseeable future.

“Everything so far is on track,” said TEFAF director Patrick van Maris in an email to artnet News. “I am very happy to hear from collectors in the US as well as in Europe that they are really excited about the group of participants that will exhibit…”

TEFAF is bringing the same strict vetting standards it employees in Maastricht; the New York fair will host 94 exhibitors from around the world, showing a wide array of works from antiquity to the 20th century.

In the days leading up to the highly-anticipated debut, artnet News spoke with several Maastricht regulars who are ready to test the waters in New York.

Dutch art dealer Bob Albricht wrote in an email to artnet News that he’s seen a lot since he began showing works at TEFAF in its early years. The gallery specializes in 19th- and early 20th– century Dutch master paintings but is also presenting French artists of that same period. Works on view include “a beautiful portrait of a young woman in thought called La Lettre by ‘Hague School’ artist Jozef Israëls.” Albricht is also bringing a much-buzzed about painting by Vincent Van Gogh, View of the New Church and old houses in The Hague (1883), acquired from a French private collector last summer.

“The history of the painting is very interesting and it has a great pedigree,” he notes. “In New York it will be presented again after many years hidden from view, to an interested and knowledgeable public; a good place, in my opinion,” said Albricht.

Expectations are high about the prospects of mixing TEFAF’s prestige with New York’s sophisticated collecting set. “Culturally New York has a lot to offer and TEFAF’s expansion to the city is reflective of this,” says Christian Hemmerle, director and owner of Hemmerle jeweler in Munich. “For many years we have been holding private exhibitions in New York and have longstanding relationships with institutions, curators and collectors across the city. We are delighted to be part of the fair’s first edition…”

On the second floor of the Armory, dealer Axel Vervoordt is “transform[ing] a historic room… into a fascinating collector’s cabinet.” The space allows for dealers to get expansive, which is exciting to Vervoordt, who runs an eponymous gallery in Antwerp, which contains an eclectic mix of decorative objects spanning centuries. In an email to artnet News, he said, “TEFAF is a journey of discovery and beauty. It’s the chance to see a unique collection of masterpieces from around the world and across the ages.”

London-based Tomasso Brothers are also exhibiting on the second floor of the cavernous space. Among works they are showing are two devotional objets d’art by Italian renaissance artists, Domenico di Bartolomeo Ubaldini and and Benedetto Buglioni. The latter is a polychrome terracotta relief panel (circa 1515) that depicts St. Jerome, accompanied by the lion he was said to have aided by removing a thorn from its paw. It will be offered in the region of $160,000.

Meanwhile, London and New York dealer Daniel Crouch Rare Books is showing what is said to be the most expensive rare map ever shown on the open market. Dating from 1531, it is by Vesconte Maggiolo and is the earliest extant depiction of New York Harbor. The asking price? $10 million.

Philadelphia art dealer Elle Shushan, who specializes in portrait miniatures, told artnet News: “it is enormously exciting to be part of the inaugural TEFAF New York. My expectation is that like the original, this will be a museum-quality fair. The rest—as with any fair—is serendipity.”

This price tag shows the confidence in new collectors associated with fair. “American institutions and US-based collectors have always been essential to our business,” said Goedele Wuyts, director of Paris gallery Bob Haboldt. However, “the potential client base in the USA is much bigger than the private collectors and museum directors that we know—especially today, when we start to notice that young or relatively young collectors that have been collecting contemporary art, are now getting ready to buy old masters. Very few of these collectors come to Maastricht, but we will be able, hopefully, to lure a substantial number of them to TEFAF New York.”