TEFAF Cancels Its Marquee Fair in Maastricht This Fall, Citing ‘Current Global Circumstances’

The cancellation raises questions about the viability of other international art fairs this fall.

Colnaghi’s stand at TEFAF in Maastricht, 2018. Courtesy of TEFAF.
Colnaghi’s stand at TEFAF in Maastricht, 2018. Courtesy of TEFAF.

The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, the largest and most high-profile Old Master fair in the world, has called off its 2021 edition. Organizers said they decided to pull the plug on the event, which had previously been rescheduled from its traditional March dates to September, “after careful consideration of current global circumstances.”

The fair’s cancellation raises questions about the feasibility of other major art expos that had been pushed to the fall, including Art Basel, which is due to run in nearby Switzerland from September 23 to 26, and Frieze London, which is scheduled for October 13 to 17. Expo Chicago, which historically took place in September, has already shifted to April for good starting next year, while Independent and the Armory Show in New York are proceeding as planned for September.

“TEFAF is focused on gathering our community of dealers, collectors, and vendors for our signature fair experience in a physical setting as soon as circumstances allow,” Hidde van Seggelen, TEFAF’s chairman, said in a statement. “In the meantime, we are excited to present a new and improved edition of TEFAF Online this September, and look forward to coming together in Maastricht for TEFAF’s 35th anniversary next March.”

The fair’s online show, which runs from September 9 through 13, will feature up to three artworks from each participating gallery, offering a taste of the 7,000-year spread of art, jewelry, and design for which TEFAF is known. Dealers will be charged a flat fee of €2,500 ($3,044) to participate in the online version.

The cancellation comes as vaccination rollouts and virus levels remain extremely uneven across art-market hubs. The Netherlands only today moved into the second stage of its five-stage reopening plan, which allows for the reopening of libraries, zoos, and outdoor swimming pools.

In 2020, TEFAF closed its show in Maastricht early after an exhibitor tested positive for the virus, and many other exhibitors soon reported symptoms, causing widespread criticism of the fair’s organizers.


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