Will American buyers show up to Tefaf Maastricht?

With two new New York editions, and US collectors curtailing international travel for economic and political reasons, some dealers are sceptical—but remain hopeful

As dealers geared up for the VIP opening of the 30th edition of The European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf) in Maastricht on Thursday, 9 March, the question many were asking was whether US collectors and institutions would travel to Europe now that the Dutch fair has editions in New York.

In an interview in the latest edition of The Art Newspaper, Michael Plummer, the co-founder of Artvest, which teamed up with Tefaf to bring the Dutch fair to New York, said that he believed that the US editions would drive American traffic to Maastricht. The number of exhibitors in either the spring or fall New York fairs (a little over 90 each), is no match for the 275 dealers visitors will find in Maastricht. However, given that Americans have curtailed international travel in recent years for economic and political reasons, some dealers were sceptical—but remained hopeful.

The London rare book and maps dealer Daniel Crouch, who recently opened a gallery in New York and has a Brexit-inspired stand with 28 works that represent the 28 European Union member states, said that there may not be an impetus for US institutions to send staff to Maastricht now that there are Tefaf editions closer to home. However, several galleries such as Sam Fogg, Benjamin Proust and De Jonckheere said that representatives from US museums, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, had been spotted wandering the aisles along with staff from the Louvre and, as one would expect, the Rijksmuseum.

Although Alice Frech of De Jonckheere admits that US presence has waned in the past couple of years, she expects a better turnout this year. “We saw many Americans at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris in September so they are coming to Europe,” she says. As well as works by Pieter Brueghel the Younger and David Teniers the Younger, the gallery is showing a 16th-century painting by Lucas Gassel that depicts the story of David and Bathsheba (€1.25m) and has already sold a miniature by Hans Bol.

Several other galleries also made early sales, including Haarlem’s John Endlich Antiquairs which sold a late 17th-century, early 18th-century Dutch dollhouse with silver miniatures (priced at €1.75m), and the Belgian gallery De Backker Medieval Art—new to Tefaf Maastricht—which sold a relic shrine to a private collector for a sum in the region of €200,000. Turnobuoni also sold two works within the first few hours of the preview day and had several pieces on hold, including Paolo Scheggi’s Intersuperficie curva, Bianca (1967-68), which is priced in the region of €1.9m.