Celebrated Collector and TEFAF President Willem Baron van Dedem Dead at 86

Baron van Dedem had been at the helm of TEFAF since 1997.

Willem Baron van Dedem was one of the best-known collectors of Dutch Old Masters. Photo: Apollo Magazine

The renowned art collector and TEFAF president Willem Baron van Dedem died on Tuesday at the age of 86.

Baron van Dedem was at the helm of the prestigious art fair in Maastricht since 1997, and was known as a collector and expert of Dutch Old Master painting.

A press statement issued by TEFAF praised Baron van Dedem’s “true passion and love for the arts,” and described him as “one of the fair’s most loyal and faithful torchbearers.”

Visitors at TEFAF Maastricht. Photo: Courtesy TEFAF

Visitors at TEFAF Maastricht.
Photo: Courtesy TEFAF

The aristocrat’s interest in the arts started at a young age, when he was exposed to the art collection of his great uncle, the shipping magnate Daniel George van Beuningen, whose Dutch Old Master collection became an important part of the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam.

However, several decades passed before Baron van Dedem started collecting himself, which was made possible by the success of his road toll and fuel card business for international transport. According to Statista, Union Tank Eckstein today employs 400 people and has an annual turnover in excess of $3 billion.

His business success enabled him to buy works by Rembrandt, Pieter Claesz, Adriaen Coorte, and other Dutch masters. He soon became one of the most prolific collectors of Dutch Old Masters, and gained a reputation for his connoisseurship and sharp eye for quality.

Pieter Claesz Breakfast Still Life (1636) Photo: Apollo Magazine

Pieter Claesz, Breakfast Still Life (1636).
Photo: via Apollo Magazine.

Over the years, he became an arts philanthropist, making important donations to London’s National Gallery and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, giving the public access to magnificent examples of 17th century painting.

In 1997, he became president of TEFAF’s board of trustees due to his reputation and excellent relationships with art dealers. Apollo reported that, in his role as president, he oversaw the fairness of the fair’s vetting process and acted as a figurehead for the organization.

TEFAF said in a statement that the art world has “suffered a considerable loss,” and that Baron van Dedem would be remembered for “his strength, spirit, and sharp eye.”

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