For the third straight year, the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht (TEFAF) has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to a new global spike in cases, fueled by the rise of the new omicron variant, the fair’s 2022 edition, originally scheduled for March 12 to 20, has been postponed.

Organizers cited “the global volatility of COVID-19” in a statement, noting that “TEFAF is currently exploring the potential for TEFAF Maastricht’s dates to shift later in 2022.”

“This was a difficult, but necessary decision, guided by three key concerns: first is the unpredictable nature of COVID-19; second, the significant financial risk to both TEFAF and our exhibitors should the fair be cancelled in the lead up to March; and third is, as always, the health and safety of the TEFAF community, our exhibitors, visitors, sponsors, and partners,” TEFAF chairman Hidde van Seggelen said in a statement.

Visitors at TEFAF Maastricht. Photo courtesy TEFAF.

Visitors at TEFAF Maastricht. Photo courtesy TEFAF.

The fair has seemingly been considering such a move for more than 10 days. On December 4, it sent exhibitors an email warning that if it was forced to cancel after December 15, dealers would be out up to €7,500 ($8,500) to cover costs that have already been incurred.

The missive, which TEFAF said simply reiterated an existing policy, sparked a wave of discontent.

With the postponement, deposit fees will be rolled over to the fair’s new dates. Any payments already made beyond €7,500 will be refunded.

Fair postponements and cancellations have become the new normal throughout the pandemic, especially for TEFAF.

As the first wave of COVID-19 spread through Europe in early 2020, TEFAF was one of the first art fairs forced to shutter. After a dealer from Italy tested positive, the fair closed four days early.

TEFAF Maastricht attracts high-profile collectors from all around the globe. Photo by Harry Heuts courtesy of TEFAF Maastricht

TEFAF Maastricht attracts high-profile collectors from all around the globe. Photo by Harry Heuts, courtesy of TEFAF.

Dozens of cases were ultimately linked to the event, whose organizers came under fire for not closing the show sooner.

TEFAF hoped to return in 2021, but the fair was delayed from March to September, and ultimately cancelled outright.

The 2021 Maastricht edition was subsequently pushed back to September, and then cancelled. The fair’s 2020 New York spring edition was similarly delayed and then cancelled, before organizers decided to cut back permanently, scrapping their second fall edition in the city. The next New York event is currently slated to take place May 6 through 10.

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