Stars Filled the Booths and the Aisles at TEFAF New York’s Opening Day

Megacollectors like Leonardo Di Caprio and Ronald Lauder browsed the fair where antiquities and the contemporary rub elbows.

TEFAF New York, May 2024. Photo: Jitske Nap.

The spring art fair circuit in New York feels even more non-stop than usual, given the fact that Frieze ran a week before both Independent and TEFAF (the event organized by The European Fine Art Foundation) rather than opening on the same day as in earlier years. The newly staggered schedule definitely gave a boost to attendance at TEFAF yesterday at the Park Avenue Armory, and perhaps captured a healthy slice of the crowds in town for the major auctions that kick off on Monday.

Among the VIPs spotted in the crowd early on were top collector and Neue Galerie co-founder Ronald Lauder as well as news anchor Anderson Cooper, who has become a regular at the New York edition. Also spotted browsing the booths were entertainment giants and artists including Zach Braff, Leonardo DiCaprio, David Geffen, KAWS, Mark Ronson, and Martha Stewart.

Within minutes of the 1 p.m. preview opening, the aisles were packed with visitors perusing the vast range of offerings from antiquities to rare furniture and design, jewelry and contemporary art. For instance, one standout booth was Robilant and Voena (New York and London), whose revelations include lesser-known ceramics by Lucio Fontana alongside artwork by contemporary Catalan artist Sergio Roger.

The latter are large, Greco-Roman style classical busts that are actually textile sculptures, crafted and hand-stitched out of surprising materials including raw silk and 19th-century linen. The gallery is concurrently running its first-ever solo show of the artist, “Mnemosyne’s Diary,” nearby at its Upper East Side location through May 18.

an image of a textile sculpture by Sergio Roger at TEFAF New York

Installation view of Sergio Roger at Robilant and Voena at TEFAF New York opening day. Photo by Eileen Kinsella

New York and Los Angeles dealer Sean Kelly noted “a great start to the fair,” adding that TEFAF New York stands out for both “critical quality and attracting informed collectors.” First-day sales included a drawing by Kehinde Wiley ($100,000), a large painting by Sam Moyer ($80,000), multiple works by Hugo McCloud ($30,000 each), two works by Antony Gormley (£22,000 and £35,000, or $27,500 and $44,000 respectively), a photograph by Alec Soth ($135,000) and a cyano-collage by Wu Chi-Tsung ($42,500). “We very much look forward to the remainder of the fair,” said Kelly.

an image of a cast iron sculpture of a standing man

Antony Gormley, Well (2000). Photo: Adam Reich. Image courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery.

Dealer Thaddaeus Ropac (London, Paris, Salzburg and Seoul) said sales were swift amid a busy opening and “enthusiastic response” to its solo presentation of works by Joan Snyder. “Her important contribution to the field of American abstraction from the 1970s onwards is new to a number of collectors we’ve seen here, and to those who are familiar with her paintings the presentation of her works on paper is providing greater insight into her practice and proving to be a real draw,” said Ropac. He noted that while the gallery had mostly seen American collectors so far, he was “delighted that the fair has been an opportunity to introduce Snyder’s work to international collections, with Primary Fields going to an institution in Asia which will reach further new audiences.”

an image of an abstract painting with blocks of color in orange, blue, red and white on a pink background

Joan Snyder, Garden Wall (2015). © Joan Snyder. Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac gallery, London, Paris, Salzburg, and Seoul.

That work, dated 2001, was priced at $350,000. Other sales included Garden Wall (2015), which sold for $160,000; Disintegrate Down (1971), a watercolor and graphite on paper for $40,000; Gold Stripes Down (1969) and Floating Fields (2005), works on paper, for $20,000 each; Healing or Bleeding?, (2001), Little Circles (1997) and Pink Wreath (2004) for $15,000 each.

an image of a sculpture of a seated bather with a green patina in front of a painting showing a chair in an empty circle

Installation view of Almine Rech Gallery at TEFAF New York May 2024. Claire Tabouret, Seated Bather (Green Patina) (2024) and Scott Kahn, The Walled City (1988). Photo: Eileen Kinsella.

The eye-catching booth of Almine Rech gallery (Paris, New York, London, Brussels, Shanghai, Monaco, Venice and Gstaad) included an intriguing mix of historical painting and sculpture alongside contemporary and buzzed-about names. The gallery reported brisk sales by the end of day one, including a painting by Picasso for approximately $1.8 million and a work on paper by the Spaniard priced around $400,000; a painting by Kenny Scharf priced around $180,000, a sculpture by Claire Tabouret,  Seated Bather (Green Patina) (2024), priced around $95,000, and a painting by Brian Calvin for about $45,000.

TEFAF New York Art Fair is on view at the Park Avenue Armory through May 14, 2024.

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