You can think of it as a country fair, a high end flea market, a tombola. There is so much art work out in the hands of collectors that these type of circus events are required as another outlet to keep moving the merchandise. if they could sell the television rights to this, doing a similar marketing to the Purina Chow dog show or the Westminster Kennels, trotting out the wares on a carpet or making a Price is Right game show contestant scenario to keep the audience from being distracted.
from Bloomberg: A gold bracelet formerly owned by Elizabeth Taylor and a Paul Gauguin still-life painting not seen in public since 1917 will be among $1.3 billion works of art to test demand at the world’s largest art and antiques fair….
…A BMW (BMW) Le Mans racer decorated by Alexander Calder will also be on show — not for sale — at the European Fine Art Fair, Tefaf, which gets more than 70,000 visitors a year in the Dutch town of Maastricht. The event, owned and run by dealers with 261 of them taking part this year, holds its VIP preview tomorrow for its “silver jubilee” 25th edition.
Dealers are vying with auction houses to lure wealthy buyers as billionaires snap up museum-quality trophies and pass on lesser-quality works. Tefaf’s wealthy visitors, many of whom fly in on about 170 private planes, have recently included Silvio Berlusconi and Michael Schumacher. Read More:http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-03-13/liz-taylor-s-bracelet-gauguin-painting-boost-1-dot-3-billion-fair
The way I see it, the shows like TEFAF are high-end status conscious versions of your basic gift and decorative housewares shows one sees at the Javits Center. Like Veblen saw in his time, these spectacles confer honorific value on the attendees bound up with the status and distinction that the art world conveys as the epitomy of bourgeois values and purchasing fragments of national ideology being willed into value as priceless echoes of a non-existant past. The people manning these booths are your gentrified versions of the snake oil salesman and that particular European version of the high class confidence swindler for the most part.
…Last year Naumann showed pictures at Tefaf ranging in price from $12 million to $47 million. Nothing sold on the booth at the fair. This year the dealer will show 35 paintings ranging from $65,000 to $2.5 million.
“I’m going to plaster the walls,” Naumann said. “It’s difficult to sell really high-value paintings at fairs, though a lot of things do get bought between $1 million to $5 million.” ( ibid.)
I can see in the future that the finance mavens, the hot shots, will create an art CDO ( collaterized debt obligation) based on works of art of all stripes: a few old masters, some mid tier works, some pop art drivel, then round out the tranches with collectibles like Bing Crosby’s pitching wedge, and Lucille Ball’s bathtub, and maybe a Damien Hirst sketch or sample ashtray for his working fags.
…London-based dealer Didier, who specializes in artist- designed jewelry, is making his debut in the Showcase section of the event. He snapped up a unique and unrecognized 18-carat gold acrobat bracelet by the British sculptor Michael Ayrton in the Elizabeth Taylor Collection auction in December. He’ll be offering it for 65,000 pounds. ( ibid. )