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Kobel's Art Weekly

Tefaf Maastricht 2023; photo Stefan Kobel
Tefaf Maastricht 2023; photo Stefan Kobel
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 11 2023

Scott Reyburn describes in the New York Times how the Tefaf in Maastricht is holding its own in the art market: "But arguably the biggest challenge TEFAF faces is the way the pendulum of collecting taste has swung decisively toward contemporary art in recent years, putting pressure on fairs with a historical focus, such as Masterpiece in London and TEFAF's New York sister fair, both of which have closed. Where does this leave TEFAF Maastricht, the last truly international fair whose traditional strength is pre-20th century material?"

Brita Sachs dedicates her tour of the Tefaf to arts and crafts and the Old Masters for the FAZ: "The walk through the hall is like a breathtaking excursion to art from all over the world and culture from many epochs. From antiquities to old masters to design that almost creates itself with the help of AI. with this offer, TEFAF stands out self-confidently from a trade fair landscape that has largely geared its programme to modern and the latest art with the argument that old art is increasingly struggling. Certainly, the Old Master Market is something for connoisseurs and enthusiasts. But they will find what they are looking for in Maastricht.

Marcus Woeller spoke to half a dozen Tefaf exhibitors for Die Welt of 12 March. The Parisian dealer Laura Kugel explains to him, among other things, the difference between a gallery and an auction: " Our clients know what kind of art we like. They trust us and listen to our recommendations. If I tell someone that we have found the perfect object for them, they will want to look at it. We can also sell collections as sets, whereas at auction they are divided lot by lot. Auction houses don't contribute anything to taste."

Susanne Schreiber explains the elaborate selection process of the Tefaf in the Handelsblatt: "No fewer than 200 jury members from 115 institutions from all over the world are involved. The experts for 30 finely differentiated collecting areas illuminate each rarity and examine it for authenticity - in the absence of the art dealers. No other fair organiser goes to such lengths to ensure authenticity. Works of art that the powerful 'Vetting Committee' pulls out are no longer allowed to be exhibited and sold at the Tefaf. But the embarrassing ban by the jury is not the end of the story. It also has consequences for the future."

Tefaf thinks highly of the connoisseurship and scientific scrutiny of its exhibits. However, according to Francis Allitt of the Antiques Trades Gazette, one former jury member is not so enthusiastic: "Yannick Chastang, a Kent-based furniture restorer, made a public break with the fair in an Instagram post. He cited issues relating to dealers' over-restoration of objects, their non-compliance with vetting decisions, neglect of the development in scholarship and scientific study of the decorative arts, and a disregard for regulations including those of CITES.' He said in the post: 'When I started vetting, the brief was to 'protect the interest of the clients'. My recent experience has involved vetting decisions being overruled or ignored and I will not be complicit with such practices.'"

I was in Maastricht for Handelsblatt and Artmagazine.

Casey Lesser, Ayanna Dozier and Arun Kakar with Casey Lesser examine how women fare in the art market at Artsy. As usual, Artsy processes auction data, so it is about the speculative market - at least in the USA.

Art lending seems to be booming (once again), Georgina Adam found out for The Art Newspaper: "There are two main groups of players: specialist lenders, who loan against art and other assets, and banks, who as part of their service will give loans to their clients, their art and other assets being the collateral. Sotheby's Financial Services is in the first category. Sources say that its total portfolio of art loans is around $1bn, and the firm says this grew by 50% between 2021 and 2022. Even allowing for 2021 being difficult, that is impressive. And the firm boosts its business by offering high-end buyers the immediate loan of 50% of the hammer price on anything they buy at its auctions over $2m. From application to funding in 30 days,' trumpets the firm."

The differences in tone and substance between Noah Horowitz and his predecessor become clear in the interview with Ursula Scheer for the FAZ of 11 March. In passing, the interview includes a job advertisement: "I want to run our business collaboratively and make sure that new people get involved with their ideas. This starts with Vincenzo de Bellis being able to fully take on his newly created position as Director of Fairs and Exhibition Platforms. In this role, he orchestrates all four Art Basel fairs on a global level, which is a daunting task. At the management level under Vincenzo, we have already appointed directors for the Hong Kong and Paris fairs. And we hope to have the positions of directors for Basel and Miami Beach filled by the summer as well. All the managers should be able to develop their own visions."

The Salvator Mundi and his henchmen continue to occupy courts and lawyers, Ursula Scheer knows in the FAZ: "In the current lawsuit, Rybolovlev's lawyers are now accusing Sotheby's of having 'aided and abetted' Bouvier in fifteen cases of defrauding the oligarch in the brokerage of overpriced paintings. [...] In total, there is still an alleged $200 million in damages at stake - and ultimately Bouvier's relationship with the company, with which the suit alleges he handled more than eight hundred transactions, and with senior members of the private sales department, such as Samuel Valette. Sotheby's does not deny that Rybolowlev, who incidentally made a cut of 300 million dollars with the resale of the 'Salvator Mundi', was defrauded, but firmly denies any knowledge of and consequently any part in Bouvier's actions." Mediation is indeed needed.

Christiane Meixner in the Tagesspiegel describes her colleague Gabriela Walde as "wide awake and touchable", who died last week.

semi-automatically translated


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