Published: March 14, 2006
With two up-market antiques shows to choose from in February, the well-heeled Florida enclave of Palm Beach has emerged as a important destination for dealers and collectors. Though management at both events discount the comparison, the grandly elegant Palm Beach! America’s International Fine Art & Antique Fair is often likened to London’s Grosvenor House, while the sprawling Palm Beach Jewelry and Antique Show, almost twice the size, is like Olympia in the way that it successfully combines mass and class. Both Florida shows set up at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Together, they are said to attract a mind-boggling 86,000 shoppers. That is enough to convince many dealers that one, two or even three weeks of drinking mojitos under the palm trees is not such a bad thing.
Instead of going home when Antiques Week in New York ends in late January, some of the world’s top dealers head south for Palm Beach! America’s International Fine Art & Antique Fair, which this year stretched from February 3 to 12.
Roughly 100 high-profile American and European dealers participate in this decade-old vetted fair, which brings together Old Master picture specialists Bernheimer-Colnaghi and Noortman; Impressionist paintings purveyors Galerie Cazeau-Beraudiere and Richard Green; American paintings dealers Adelson Galleries, Thomas Colville, Hollis Taggart and Spanierman; antiquities expert Ariadne; English furniture dealers Mallett, Kentshire and Clinton Howell; and jewelers Buccellati, Bulgari, Graff and Harry Winston.
The show’s conservative profile gets a bit of tweak fromMacklowe Galleries, dealers in Twentieth Century design, and SantaFe’s Tai Gallery, with Japanese baskets and other weavings.
“It’s the best show of its kind in the country,” said Richard Schillay, a New York dealer in Impressionist and early Modern European and American painting. “Last year, I had people fighting over my John Marin and my Stuart Davis. If you have the right material, you sell here. This show attracts a very educated audience from all over the country.”
Palm Beach’s glamorous, by-invitation-only preview party (one winces at the word “vernissage”) on February 2 was orchestrated by socialites from the New York-Palm Beach circuit, including Bill and Bridget Koch, Audrey Gruss, Lee Munder Pauline Pitt and Tom Quick. The evening drew 2,500 patrons and, according to one observer, was so crowded that some revelers came and left rather than wait to have their cars parked. Nick Korniloff, vice president of IFAE, which produces the show, said attendance reached 36,500 over the course of the 11-day show.
Everyone who has seen Palm Beach agrees that it is a stunner. Twice the size of the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York, the 100,000-square-foot Convention Center benefits from an installation budget of $1.5 million.
Responding to complaints that last year’s installation was onthe austere side, management redesigned the fair, making it lighterand brighter. Booths range from 250 to 1,200 square feet. Walls,most of which are covered with fabric, are 12 feet high and cappedby an elaborate fascia system.
“Filled with extraordinary paintings, furniture, jewelry, textiles and other works of art, this space is breathtaking,” said Dr Michael Mezzatesta, whose appointment as show director was announced last December.
Mezzatesta plans to widen the fair’s draw by reaching out to collectors in the United States and Latin America. “I’m working hard to connect with museum colleagues and their collector groups, especially young collectors. We want Palm Beach to be a destination, a place for learning about art and antiques as well as buying them,” said Mezzatesta, formerly head of the Duke University Museum of Art.
He is also interested in updating Palm Beach. “We currently have an arbitrary cutoff date of 1970. I’d like to connect with the world of contemporary. We’re not going to be another Art Basel Miami, but there is no reason why we shouldn’t include a Philip Pearlstein painting.”
Palm Beach’s marketing plan included heavy advertising inFlorida and New York, as well as in art journals internationally.
As for merchandise, prices started at $1,000 and topped out at about $6.5 million, the figure Adelson was asking for John Singer Sargent’s “Bedoin Encampment.” Pictures were bestsellers at this year’s show. Noortman parted with works by Alfred Sisley, Raoul Dufy and Camille Pissarro; Colnaghi-Bernheimer sold Théobald Michau’s “Village Fair with an Open Air Theatre,” and Cazeau-Beraudiere wrote up a Picabia and a Magritte. Ariadne’s successes included a Third Century Roman mosaic and an intaglio of Marc Anthony.
Said Bibi Mohammed of Imperial Fine Books in New York City, “Painting, furniture and jewelry always come first, of course, but we did very well. We sold a beautiful set of Charles Dickens within the first few minutes. We actually had people fighting over it.”
Mohammed, who has also done the Palm Beach Jewelry and Antique show, prefers Palm Beach. “It can only get better because it has wonderful dealers and it attracts a great clientele,” said Mohammed.
Palm Beach! America’s International Fine Art and Antique Show returns to the Convention Center in 2007 from February 1 to 11.
Following less than a week after Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Jewelry and Antiques Show has made impressive gains since manager Kris Charamonde launched it with business partners Scott Diamant and Rob Samuels three years ago.
The 205-exhibitor fair, which opened for five days with apreview party for more than 5,000 on February 17, bills itself asthe largest vetted art, antique and jewelry show in the UnitedStates.
Charamonde, who reported a gate of 56,000, and said exhibitors’ sales exceeded $200 million, spends 20 to 30 weeks a year traveling. Just days after knocking the fair down, he was off to London for the spring edition of Olympia, then on to the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht.
His many days on the road help explain the show’s unusually interesting roster. A sizable group of Winter Antiques Show veterans – among them, Arader Gallery, Alexander Gallery, G.K.S. Bush, Macklowe Gallery, Hyland Granby Antiques, The Old Print Shop, Peter Tillou Fine Arts & Antiques, Ralph M. Chait Galleries and Thomas Colville Fine Art – participate. Also on hand is folk art dealer Stephen Score, Native American art specialist Marcy Burns, porcelain and pottery expert Paul Vandekar, majolica dealer Charles L. Washburne and Calderwood Gallery, the Philadelphia dealers in Art Deco design.
A good nucleus of fine arts dealers includes Childs Gallery, Clarke Galleries, Thomas Colville, Schillay Fine Art, Greenwich Gallery, Godel & Company, James Graham & Sons and Questroyal Fine Art. The organizers, who increased the fair’s art component by 30 percent this year, say paintings were a hot ticket.
Charamonde, a graduate gemologist who spent 25 years in thevintage and estate jewelry business, prides his fair on itsinviting, low-key atmosphere and open floor plan. He said, “Theshow’s success has given us the ability to bring in interesting newdealers.”
One of this year’s most talked about additions was Peter Tillou. The Litchfield, Conn., dealer said he made “several nice sales on Friday, mostly to people living in the Palm Beach area.” An entire wall of Tillou’s booth of European and American furniture and painting was gone by the end of the show.
Vallejo Gallery of Newport Beach, Calif., made its first East Coast appearance, selling American and French paintings, plus two dimensional works from Hong Kong and Canton.
“Customers were six deep in her booth,” publicist William Underwood said of vintage handbag dealer Nula Thanhauser, who sold more than 50 purses, including five to a single client for $8,000.
“This show’s a good blend of high end and more moderate material,” said Hyannis Port, Mass., dealer Janice Hyland of nautical arts specialist Hyland Granby Antiques. “The show worked for us both this year and last. It seems to be building a following. We see everyone you could imagine in Palm Beach, including many of the great collectors we know from New York and Boston, some of whom have homes in the area. President’s Day Weekend is a good time. Everyone seems to be around.”
New York dealer Marcy Burns and her husband Richard Schillay exhibited, Burns showing Mexican and Native American silver and Schillay bringing the American and European Impressionist and early Modern pictures for which he is well known.
“The quality of this show has improved significantly. All the major New York fine arts dealers are setting up here,” said Burns, who, fresh from a month of back-to-back shows in New York, California and Florida, believes that consumers are unsettled at the moment.
Making news was Tom Veilleux Gallery. The Maine dealer sold asmall Maxfield Parrish landscape for $285,000. A couple bought thework moments after the show opened after seeing the pieceillustrated in a local newspaper. Another early sale was registeredby Howard Rehs, who parted with a painting by Daniel RidgewayKnight.
Jeweler Camilla Dietz Bergeron Ltd, noted that pearls, coral and cuffs, along with big, bold “statement” pieces, were bestsellers in the jewelry department.
“We have the largest promotion budget of any antiques show in the United States. It’s worth about $1 million, though of course we get discounts. Customers are driving from the Keys, Naples and Tampa for this show,” said Charamonde, whose extensive advertising and promotion plan has made a splash.
Charamonde’s goals for the future are to keep the Palm Beach Jewelry and Antique Show interesting and deliver a good product at a fair price to both dealers and their customers. “I’m a continuing believer in diversity. I want buyers to know that they can spend $500,000 here, but also that they don’t have to.”
The Palm Beach Jewelry and Antique Show returns to the Palm Beach County Convention Center in 2007 on Presidents’ Day weekend, February 16-20.
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