Art Market

Despite three galleries dropping out due to the coronavirus, the TEFAF Maastricht fair will proceed as planned.

Justin Kamp
Mar 3, 2020 4:47PM, via The Art Newspaper

Visitors in the Galerie Canesso booth at TEFAF Maastricht 2019. Photo courtesy TEFAF.

The 33rd edition of the TEFAF Maastricht art fair will still open on Saturday as scheduled, but several exhibitors have dropped out over coronavirus fears. There are currently about 20 known cases of the coronavirus in the Netherlands.

A TEFAF spokeswoman told The Art Newspaper:

We have seen three confirmed cancellations out of our 285 exhibitors and Showcase participants, plus five exhibitors from the Tefaf showcase. We fully respect all exhibitor’s individual decisions and have been in touch with them all. The exhibitors who will not attend Tefaf 2020 include: Wildenstein and Co, Fergus McCaffrey and Galerie Monbrison.

Annemarie Penn-Te Strake, mayor of Maastricht; Theo Bovens, governor of the province of Limburg; and Rob van de Wiel, the managing director of TEFAF’s venue MECC Maastricht, sent a letter on Sunday to the TEFAF board recommending the fair continue.

The letter reads in part:

Neither the recommendations of RIVM [National Institute for Public Health and the Environment] nor those of the [South Limburg] Security Region give any reason to cancel Tefaf at this time. [...] To date, there is no national directive to cancel (international) events in the Netherlands. If there are cases in the region people will be monitored in the region which will still be no reason for cancellation.

The fair’s decision to continue comes amid increased tension over how the international art market will handle the spread of the disease. Art Basel canceled the 2020 edition of its Hong Kong fair; Sotheby’s relocated its Hong Kong auction to New York; Art Dubai postponed its 2020 edition; and museums in Italy and France, including the Louvre, have shut their doors indefinitely. The withdrawal of New York-based Wildenstein & Co. and Fergus McCaffrey and the Paris-based Galerie Monbrison reflects an increasing aversion to international travel among those on the art-fair circuit.

TEFAF said in a statement that the fair would take precautionary measures to ensure public health, including providing all-day cleaning services and hand-sanitizing stations, along with an information desk from local health authorities.

The TEFAF spokeswoman said:

With our art community of 280 exhibitors in Maastricht, we have seen a majority of exhibitors happy with the decision to go ahead. While we understand there are different points of views within our community and beyond, we are pleased to continue.

TEFAF Maastricht’s 2020 edition runs March 7th to 15th.

Justin Kamp