OVER the decades we have run out of superlatives for TEFAF Maastricht and describe it simply as the world’s top fair. Fittingly, after its Silver Jubilee airing from March 15 to 25 that accolade is even more indisputable.
It was not just the 100,000 or so flowers around the fair that bloomed. The stock as ever was a credit to the world’s top dealers who exhibit and this year sales were strong all round.
So why would anyone want to change such a winner? And what does one make of some wicked whispers at the fair that it might relocate to Brussels.
I have heard this rumour before, talk fuelled largely by disgruntlement at the punitive Dutch VAT rates, and on his return I put it to St. James’s Old Masters dealer Johnny van Haeften, a founder member of TEFAF and still on the committee.
“A move to Brussels is not the plan at all. Naturally we consider every option but a move is not an idea” he said.
The dealer admitted the Dutch import levy of 19 per cent was irksome but said “We have managed these financial problems before.”
He concluded: “We are wedded to Maastricht after 25 years and intend always to be in Maastricht, any move would be counterproductive. It is not being contemplated at the moment.”
Johnny himself had one of his best Maastricht fairs and although he had not finished calculating said the 2012 fair was “pretty well at the top.”
His many sales included Frans Francken’s 1633 Mankind’s
Eternal Dilemma – the choice between vice and virtue which had an asking price of $14m and went to an American collector.