Johnny Van Haeften is closing up shop and becoming a consultant and private dealer. The move has been caused by the sale of the building that houses his gallery to a younger gallerist but Van Haeften sees it as time to cede the field to a new generation of buyers and sellers:
“With the innovation of Tefaf launching in New York this year, it’s important to encourage a younger generation [of dealers],” he says. For young dealers entering the fray, prospects look good. Van Haeften says the Old Master sector has been enjoying something of a comeback over the past six months to a year. “There’s lots of new interest from Asia and the Far East generally,” he says.
The story that discusses Van Haeften’s change of status also mentions that his gallery’s stock—once 225 works or so—is now down to 50. Van Haeften will keep selling even though he’ll no longer show at TEFAF Maastricht after this year.
Given the broad changes in art trading over the last decade, that 225 works figure becomes an interesting reference point. Van Haeften’s prominence and longevity would suggest those works had a relatively high average value (surely the stock followed a rough 80/20 rule where 20% of the works held 80% of the value—or some variation on Pareto.)
Whether younger dealers will be able to amass such stock in the future will be part of the challenge for the Old Master category. Or let’s let Van Haeften have the last word:
“We have just over 3,000 collectors on our books who are mostly, but not exclusively, interested in Dutch and Flemish masters, and that’s taken 40 years to accumulate.” And, unfortunately for holders of second- and third-rate stock, they are only interested in top-quality works.
Old Master dealer Johnny Van Haeften opens gallery in London home (The Art Newspaper)
Young blood for Old Masters (The Art Newspaper)