Reporting from the TEFAF in Maastricht, Souren Melikian is giddy about the sales and prices for Old Master paintings and antiquities:
Business is blooming against all odds in the art market when the rest of the world economy shrinks.
As the 22nd European Fine Art Fair, which closes on Sunday, opened its doors to the private viewing on March 12, the rush of hundreds of well-heeled prospective buyers to get in first was as feverish as ever. Transactions were concluded there and then at prices that would not have been higher the previous year. [ . . . ]
A telling sign of the bullishness of buyers was the wide span of genres that found favor with the guests at the private viewing. [ . . . ] If there was any concession to the times, this was the wide range of prices, from very high to surprisingly modest. Masterpieces by Old Masters who have been bypassed by fame can be downright inexpensive compared with what pictures graced by more exalted signatures will cost. [ . . . ]
Perhaps the greatest potential coup in the fair was a marine with a sailing boat and a barque tossed on choppy seas done in the 1630s by one of the greatest Dutch masters, Jan van Goyen. Handled with a great economy of means and painted in brisk touches of the brush, this is a connoisseur’s gem. The asking price is a laughable €300,000. No fewer than three museums are said to be thinking about it. Don’t think, pal, just get it.
The question is whether this is a good sign for the art market of sign of an alternate bubble rising. What do you think?
The Maastricht Fine Art Fair Ends on a Glorious Buying Binge (International Herald Tribune)