MOST of the greatest works of art are in museums—“prisons for art”, as one frustrated dealer calls them. While contemporary artists can keep replenishing their market, earlier paintings, bronze sculptures, objets d’art, antiquities, medieval carvings, porcelain and antique jewellery were created by those now dead. Not everything is locked away in museums, of course, but as the lifespan of collectors increases, so does the time their acquisitions are off the market. David Rockefeller, whose vast collection will be auctioned by Christie’s next month, died aged 101.

At the same time, there is more money chasing art and antiques. Demand is keen, as is evident in the growing number of fairs. TEFAF in Maastricht, with 282 exhibitors, is the best as well as the biggest of them. But it is joined by other events: long-standing ones like the Winter Antiques Show (New York), the Biennale in Paris, and BRAFA (Brussels), as well as ambitious newcomers such as Masterpiece (launched in 2011) and Frieze Masters (2012), both in London, and Maastricht spinoffs TEFAF Fall (2016) and TEFAF Spring (2017) both in New York. TEFAF’s newly announced global strategy promises still more.  Read more