‘The power is that everything is mixed’

According to director Mark Grol, PAN should mainly be about the fun of collecting. ‘People combine a beautiful 18th-century cabinet with an African statue and a designer chair. There is eclectic collecting.’

Kees Keijer

At the PAN office, director Mark Grol (52) is pleased to see a large map of the fair on the wall. “We have fifteen more participants than last year. Then some of them dropped out due to corona stress.”

What he especially likes are the merchants in old masters who have come along. They are also regular participants in Tefaf in Maastricht, the largest international antique fair in the world. “Weiss Gallery and Rafael Valls participate, both from London, Koetser in Zurich. Then you have Lawrence Steigrad in New York. There are four insanely important old master traders who participate in PAN. It is a huge honor.”

The fun of collecting, that’s what this year’s PAN will be about. “It’s not about investing in art. Fine if people want to, but it’s really about the fun of collecting. That you buy something beautiful and that it gives you a good feeling.”

Compete for the collector’s favor

Fortunately, according to Grol, the art market has not yet really suffered from the economic crisis. “Good art retains its value. People who can buy art may be a little less affected by the recession. These are often people with a lot of money, and they are less affected if interest rates rise slightly or if house prices fall.”

Trust, that’s what it’s all about in the art market. In uncertain times, collectors can still keep their wallets tight. “If there is uncertainty, you will feel it. At the beginning of the pandemic, you suddenly saw that self-confidence was gone, when in fact there was nothing wrong financially.”

PAN opens at a time full of change in the international art world. In London and Paris, a power struggle rages for the favor of the art collector. Paris’ main asset is the new exchange Paris+, which threatens to replace the traditional FIAC. The new fair is organized by Art Basel and took place last month, just after Frieze in London.

More than just hanging a painting

London has long been an economic and cultural magnet, but Grol, who lives in London himself, believes Paris will take over that position. “Brexit is an incredible drama. England used to be cool but now it’s really the class sucker. London has so many problems. There’s more stability in Europe and I think Paris will really fight for that too. There’s a lot going on there right now.”

That is why English traders also like to come to PAN. “They want to be active on the European market. The Netherlands is still a great art country, where sales are good. We are of course close to Germany and Belgium.”

Contents

Besides the fun of collecting, Grol also makes it mainly about the content. “We have a collaboration with the Association of Dutch Art Historians (VNK). They come to talk about art because research showed that young collectors are really interested in the content. So we want the dealers to hang not just a painting, but also signs with explanations and prices. Clarity and openness.”

Members of the Royal Association of Dealers in Ancient Art in the Netherlands (VHOK) will provide participants with guided tours. “People find it very interesting, so we want to make the flame bigger, that people really become interested in art.”

Brutal jewelry theft

You can learn things from some items, but of course merchants also want people to buy. At the same time, today’s people are increasingly satisfied with fewer things. “It is increasingly about quality, not quantity. The old-fashioned collector who wants a large collection of old teaspoons or stamps; it’s a little out. People become their own interior designer. So they combine a beautiful cabinet from the 18th century with an African statue and a designer chair. There is an eclectic collection.”

This summer, Tefaf was startled by a jewelery theft. Has Grol taken special measures for PAN? “That robbery was very brutal with armed people in the middle of the exchange. Tens of millions have been taken, this is a category you don’t have on PAN. We have engaged an external security expert and will take additional measures. Some are very visible and some are less visible.”

Buy online

During the pandemic, buying art online has boomed. Nevertheless, personal contact between traders and customers remains very important. “People know exactly what they want to buy online. If you are looking for a Gispen chair, you go to eBay, Marktplaats or Catawiki and buy such a chair. Lived.

But the power of PAN is that everything is mixed together. You will be surprised, meet people. For example, last year someone was in a contemporary art gallery. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a beautiful 18th-century icon at another merchant. Then she bought it. She had never seen that on the Internet.”

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