The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) announced that it will close the fair at 7pm today, March 11th, four days earlier than scheduled. The decision comes in close consultation with the city of Maastricht in The Netherlands, as well as local health authorities.
It is understood that a renowned Italian exhibitor has been diagnosed with COVID-19 upon return to his country on March 8th, according to The Art Newspaper. TEFAF also decided to shorten the fair due to the growing concerns of exhibitors, visitors and staff and the ever-growing difficulties regarding travel and transport, it said in a statement.
Since then, COVID-19 has officially been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The leading fair for Old Masters and Modern works was given the go ahead by local health authorities and the mayor of Maastricht last week. But exhibitors Wildenstein & Co, Fergus McCaffrey and Galerie Monbrison all withdrew just before the fair opened its doors.
“Given the recent developments in the regions around Maastricht and increasing concerns, we no longer feel it is appropriate to continue as planned,” TEFAF chairman Nanne Dekking said in a statement.
One dealer told Private Art Investor: “Most dealers conduct business in the first two days of the show, so the decision to close will not be a big blow to their sales.” The fair’s cancellation will however come as a blow to the region’s economy, which employs locals to support the fair in several capacities.
Annemarie Penn te Strake, mayor of the city of Maastricht adds: “I support and respect this decision. We understand the unrest is growing due to circumstances in the countries of origin and the regions surrounding us. It’s only right that there is attention to this concern.”