It’s not often someone tricks Willem van Dedem in such a refined a manner. For that reason, he hasn’t forgotten an encounter in the Dutch city of Maastricht a few years ago: He was told the Sheikh of Qatar had just arrived and wanted to visit the town’s internationally renowned art fair. Immediately.
“I greeted the guest with extreme politeness, then told him: ‘We are extremely sorry, but you cannot visit the art fair, because today is reserved exclusively for the press,’ ” Mr. van Dedem recalled.
“Ha!” countered Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa, Mr. van Dedem said. “As luck will have it, I’m from the press.” Then he pulled out an identity card. “I’m now the owner of Al Jazeera.” And he was in.
Mr. van Dedem ran his fingers through his white hair and smiled delicately. Much remained unsaid in this moment of reminiscence, but the message was clear: It may very well be that the worldwide trade in art and antiques has annual sales of €47 billion, but The European Fine Art Fair, known by its acronym TEFAF, is “his” art fair.