|The American International Fine Art Fair opened with a gala preview sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels and benefiting the Norton Museum last Tuesday night. It drew the largest crowds in the fair’s history, with close to 3500 people in attendance.
The mood on the floor is very optimistic, with sales and reserves being reported and paintings and furniture going out to clients on approval. We even heard that a Chinese business tycoon flew to Palm Beach in his private jet and went on a spending spree (the amount bandied about was $3 million). So everyone seems buoyed by all the activity.
|Another factor contributing to the dealers’ positive outlook is that David Lester and his wife Lee Ann are back as the fair’s directors. The Lesters founded the fair in a tent in 1997 when everyone thought they were out of their minds for going to the other side of the tracks, so to speak, where trains would charge by shaking the million dollar paintings and chandeliers.
But the fair prevailed under their watchful eye and became such a success that DMG, an English media conglomerate, bought the fair from the Lesters for $19 million and they went off to start their next venture -- SeaFair, a floating art fair on a mega-yacht. The Palm Beach fair was left flapping in the wind for a few years until the dealers demanded action. After some negotiating the Lesters reacquired the fair last year with a strong and vibrant dealers committee.
|In the crowd Tuesday night were Iris and Carl Apfel, Maura Benjamin, Maureen Donnell, Diana Wister, Pat Cook, Robert Nederlander, Gigi and Harry Benson, Annie Sutton Falk and Michael Falk, Meg Bowen, Ellen Block, Frances Scaife, Polly and David Ober, Mary and Mark Freitas, Irene and Jim Karp, Nancy and Walter Racquet, Heidi and John Niblack, Executive Director of the Norton Museum of Art Christina Orr-Cahall and Richard Orr-Cahall, Kathryn and Leo Vecellio, Marion Gay, Lars Bolander, Brian McCarthy, Mr. And Mrs. Louis Shirley, Geoffrey Bradfield, Mai Hallingby, Felicia Taylor, Barbara Berger and Collectors & Connoisseurs Committee co-chairs Mario Buatta, Pauline Pitt, Tom Quick, and Hilary and Wilbur Ross.|
|The fair, with 70 international dealers from 13 countries, spans all periods and specialties. It runs until Sunday, February 8 at the West Palm Beach Country Convention Center, 650 Okeechobee Boulevard. www.aifaf.com .|
|Alberto and Annabelle Mariaca, Mai Harrison, and Mario Buatta||Jonathan Steele and Sherri Wenal|
|Jurgen Fleischmann and Penny Whitlock||Terry O'Neill|
|Thomas and Tiffany Martin||Mr. and Mrs. John Wash||Jennifer Watty and Alexis Waller|
|Claude Bouvier, Latitia Lundeen, Cheryl Marshman, Gunnel Clarke, and Ingela Carl Borgesdo||Max and Sandra Scanavino|
|Adam Balevic and Sarah Gates||Gigi and Harry Benson with Hilary Geary Ross|
|Stephanie Asch, Ewa Diament, and Joanna Ballarini||Fern Fodiman and Lori Gendelman|
|Laura Evans and Rob Robinson||Kenneth Easton, Gerard McKeon, Gale S. Brophy, and Andrew Sferra|
|Michael Ridgdill, Stephanie Asch, Ewa Diament, Joanna Ballarini, and Davis McDuffie||Mindy and Jeff Hildebrand with Ron Hall|
|Lauren Lieberman and Harry Benson||Barber Berger and Iris Apfel||Tom Quick and Susan Moore|
|Phyllis Lipman Levin and Dr. Harry Horwich||Camila Helander, Bruce Helander, and Carla Minervina|
|Wendy Novak, Jennifer Garrigues, Michael Goedhuis, and Frank Robinson in the Goedhuis Contemporary Exhibit||Barbara and Jeff Lichtenstein|
|Christina Orr-Cahall and David Lester||Hashem Khosrovani, Greet Claessens, Tom Quick, Kate Khosrovani, Felicia Taylor, and Margo MacNabb Nederlander|
|Mario Buatta, Harry and Gigi Benson, and Hilary and Wilbur Ross||Stephen and Petra Levint|
|Leo and Kathryn Vecellio||Christina and Richard Orr-Cahall||Robinson Janvier and Adelaide Price|
|Kenneth and Frances Eisenberg with Penny and Harold Blumenstein||Ewa and Scott Diament|
|Shirley Fiterman and David Ober||Miami City Ballet Dancer Callie Manning, Paula and Mark Cook, Miami City Ballet Dancer Madison McDonough wearing Van Cleef & Arpels jewels|
|Norton Museum of Art Chairmen: Sara McCann, Annie Falk, Mark and Paula Cook, and Shelley Menin||Mary and Mark Freitas|
|Robert Nederlander and Pat Cook||Jean and Fred Sharf with Malcolm Rogers|
|Paula Cook, Mark Cook, and Christina Orr-Cahall||David Ober and Annie Falk|
|Julian and Marcel Maison in Waterhouse & Dodd Exhibit||Eric Stonestrom, Kate Shanley, Sarah Gavlak, and Carter Pottash|
|Lee Ann Lester, Laslo Von Vertes, and Yvonne Von Vertes||Marti Bellingrath, Linda Donahue, and Bambi Putnam|
|Spencer Tomkins and Dana Buckley||Linda, Christopher, and Steve Horn|
|In front of the Graff booth||Jim and Sara McCann|
|Frannie Scaife and Tom McCarter||Jennifer Frederick, Vanessa Henry, Inez Heery, and Rebecca Kirsch|
|Photographs by LILA PHOTO|