Two Billion Euros, Seven Thousand Years: Yes, The Art Market Still Rocks

Two Billion Euros, Seven Thousand Years: Yes, The Art Market Still Rocks Image via Wikipedia

They came from New York and Uruguay, from Amsterdam and Hong Kong, their eyes wide and wallets thick, draped in diamonds and in denim, seeking treasures and surprises, and found both.  As the 24th European Fine Art Fair reached its last weekend, crowds were still pouring in to the 30,000 square-meter exhibition hall, milling through 260 galleries that, together, proved once again that the art market remains solid and the passion of collectors is only growing by the day.

With over 55,000 visitors by the end of the first week, the fair has pulled in quite a number of luminaries – from Hermitage Director Mikhail Petrovski to Sheik Saud al Thani, the bad boy of the Qatar royal family whose past purchases have included several record-making buys in an eight year, $1.5 billion buying spree that ended in his arrest for alleged misuse of public funds.

So it’s understandable that by Friday, the fair’s eighth day, most of the dealers were exhausted; but the buyers, unfatigued, paid no attention.  (After all, as Judd Tully drily noted in his report of the opening for, “There is no such thing as sticker-shock at Maastricht.”)

At Ben Brown’s booth that afternoon, negotiations were taking place by telephone. “Too low,” a gallery assistant told the prospective buyer, “I’m sorry.” Another assistant draped himself along a stainless steel Volto rocker by Israeli designer Ron Arad. “This is the longest art fair in the world,” he moaned, but he clearly was not having as bad a time as wanted us to believe.  Indeed, given the high-pressure, eight-hour plus days they’d all endured, the dealers were in surprisingly good form and spirits (if not quite as peppy as they’d been on opening night)  – though undoubtedly, multiple successes have had something to do with that.

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