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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

Just when I got fed up with the cold and grey, spring kicked in with ear-pleasing bird chatter and warm sunbeams. I found myself power-dating the sun and a coffee on the streets of Maastricht. Two partners that can never let me down.

The season of rejuvenation and March in particular is full of art shows world-wide: the Armory Show in New York (March 2-5), Art Dubai (March 15-18), Art Central and Art Basel in Hong Kong (March 21-25), PAD Paris Art & Design (March 22-26) or TEFAF in Maastricht (March 10-19), of course.

The ancient city on the two sides of the Meuse River has been among my favourites in the Netherlands. The dose of culture, history and architecture is unbelievable and I love the way locals have continued to give new function and meaning to old places. Where else would you have a bookstore inside a former 13th century Dominican church? The 1677 national heritage sites and the cultural diversity of Maastricht are the perfect milieu to one of the most important art fairs in the world, since 1988. TEFAF is an annual art fair, organised by The European Fine Art Foundation in the MECC exhibition centre, which we first visited in 2015 – check out our report with some more details about the fair here.

TEFAF mood

Despite the current economic situation and difficulties in certain luxury goods sectors, TEFAF is expanding. They established a US presence immediately with two fairs: a Fall event for the art of the 1920s and a second show coming up in May for modern and contemporary art and design.

“On numerous occasions our exhibitors in Maastricht have expressed the need and desire for a TEFAF platform in the US, as have many private and institutional collectors” – Patrick Van Maris (CEO of TEFAF) shared his thoughts with Anna Brady (arts and lifestyle journalist, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia ART and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia Interiors) and the audience at the AXA Art booth on the first show day. Art insurance company AXA Art has been a principal sponsor of the event for years and they organize interesting round table sessions with industry insiders and artists.

Mr. Van Maris also underlined that due to the specialities of this business, any step they take requires long-term thinking and commitments. The challenge of organising such an event to meet the standards of TEFAF is great, but New York’s vibrancy and its economic power resulted in a show with a unique atmosphere and very positive feedback from exhibitors and visitors alike.

TEFAF Maastricht welcomed 270 internationally renowned exhibitors this year, including 24 new ones. It is divided into nine sections: TEFAF Antiques, TEFAF Classical Antiquities, TEFAF Curated, TEFAF Design, TEFAF Haute Joaillerie, TEFAF Modern, TEFAF Paintings, TEFAF Paper and TEFAF Showcase. In order to ensure quality, originality and diversity, the jury has a strict selection process in terms of both the exhibitors as well as the art pieces. Mr. Van Maris underlined that quality, authenticity and condition are the foundations of the “TEFAF brand”, which they safe-guard via 175 international experts in 29 different fields.

Ralph Gierhards Antiques / Fine Art

Therefore, not surprisingly, the fair has had many very loyal guests and exhibitors. Just like Johnny van Haeften, who specialises in the Dutch and Flemish Old Master Paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries, and uses TEFAF as a main meeting point with existing and prospective customers. “I think the world has changed – one has to adapt to it and change with it. If I look back to all the big sales we have made in the last couple of years, they have actually not been to do with the gallery. Very rarely people come in off the street and say: I’ll buy a GBP 300,000 Dutch painting.” Therefore, he just recently gave up his London gallery at St. James’s and moved out to Richmond, Sussex to sell by appointment only. As a board member and exhibitor of TEFAF since the beginning he has many interesting stories and views, which he shared in TEFAF’s cool video series.

I have been especially drawn by the antique and the contemporary jewellery, which receive a special focus at TEFAF. Naturally, creations of the exhibiting brands are closer to art pieces than to simple jewellery items. In this regard, TEFAF is a great place for collectors to discover one-of-a-kind jewellery artworks.

We visited Hemmerle, Verdura and Belperron, Otto Jakob, Alexandre Reza and Wallace Chan.

Discover them with us!


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