The fall was widely attributed by fair participants to fears over Coronavirus as well as the imposition of corporate travel restrictions. As well as affecting the attendance of private collectors and institutional buyers, 12 from the vetting committee were unable to attend out of a total of 184 (a number that includes the scientific research team).
However, sales continued across the fair with many dealers stressing the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to buyers and taking various pro-active approaches to securing deals.
As well as contacting clients beforehand, a number of dealers offered digital tours of their stands giving potential buyers a taste of their offerings. Among those posting 360 views of their stands were Connaught Brown, Bailly Gallery and Charles Ede.
Tomasso Brothers sold a bronze bust of the young Lucius Verus (130-169 AD) for a price in the region of €950,000. The piece is from the first quarter of the 16th century after the antique and featured a dark, rich patina.
The gallery also sold an Italian 17th century Bust of a Moor for a price in the region of €375,500 and a bronze of The Tiber, c.1720, for around €175,000.
A small polychrome painted gothic wall clock from Germany c.1590, sold from Mentink & Roest to a private European buyer. It was offered for a five-figure sum.
Christopher Kingzett in the TEFAF Paper section sold Fed Up, Again (1981) by Ronald Brookes Kitaj (1932-2007) for around €100,000. It is thought to depict the artist himself, who suffered from intermittent bouts of depression and said that he looked to Durer’s work on melancholy for inspiration.
A c.1480 court Gothic agate saliera with fire-gilt silver mount went to a European museum from the stand of Kunstkammer Georg Laue where it was offered for around £100,000. The dealership also sold an anima damnata medallion attributed to Theopilus Wilhelm Freese to a German private collector and large beaker from the cellars of Dresden castle to a private museum in Portugal. Both were offered for five-figure sums.
Charles Ede made its first sale within five minutes of the opening, and followed it up with five further sales on the first day. “It was nice because there was so much worry and concern but it seems like the Dutch are getting on with things,” said the gallery’s Martin Clist. Among its early sales was an Egyptian bronze statuette of Keredankh, mother of Imhotep, c.600BC, which had a £45,000 asking price.
A relief portrait of Beethoven by Franz von Stuck went to a private US buyer from the stand of Stair Sainty. Offered for €75,000, the c.1900-02 work was made during a wave of revived interest in the composer sparked by the 75th anniversary of his death (in 1897). This year marks the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.