An Artful Alliance: Behind This Week’s Opening Night of TEFAF

 

Twice a year, philanthropists, art enthusiasts, and leaders from the worlds of design and fashion clear their calendars to attend The Opening Night of TEFAF New York, benefiting The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering. In three short years, Opening Night has become a luminary in the city’s society scene, drawing nearly 1,500 guests to get a first glimpse of museum-worthy treasures: grand masters and antiquities in the fall, and contemporaries in the spring. It has become a star-studded affair, with the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Martha Stewart, Anderson Cooper, Peter Marino and Ronald, Jo Carole, Aerin and Jane Lauder, among others, traipsing the packed aisles of the Park Avenue Armory. Buzz is quickly building for Opening Night of TEFAF New York Fall on Friday, October 26. 

Jamee Gregory, Shabnam Henry, Carolina de Neufville, Caryn Zucker, Elizabeth Singer

While the pairing between The Society of MSK and The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), celebrated as the world’s most buoyant art market, is still young, the union was symbiotic from the very start. When TEFAF CEO Patrick van Maris first explored different U.S. locales to host Europe’s famed art fair, all signs pointed to New York. What city better than capital of the country’s art market, and what metropolis more capable of beautifully translating the unique look and quality of Maastricht than Manhattan? The pinnacle of it all: The Society of MSK. 

“TEFAF has supported cancer research at the Maastricht University Medical Centre since 2006, so it was very important that we continue our philanthropic efforts when we expanded to New York,” van Maris says. “The Society of MSK is a New York institution and the city’s preeminent philanthropic organization. It was a natural choice as our philanthropy partner to help raise funds for MSK patient care, cancer research, and public education for the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer.” Van Maris says The Society of MSK has also played an integral role in establishing the Fair’s presence in the United States, helping reach collectors, enthusiasts, and prominent New York figures. “I’ve been most impressed with the dedication, hard work and generosity by the members of The Society, along with the knowledge and art expertise of the members and guests who attend Opening Night,” he says.

Martha Stewart and Kevin Sharkey

As for the signature New York sophistication that Opening Night brings to the Fair? For that TEFAF credits Jamee Gregory, president of The Society, who has been a passionate steward of this alliance, and her dynamic Opening Night co-chairs that bring it all to life. “Opening Night of TEFAF New York Fall really marks the start of the social season in Manhattan,” Gregory says. “Everyone is back from their summer travels and eager to see their friends, as well as the extraordinary antiques, art, and jewelry assembled from the world’s most illustrious dealers. It’s such fun, milling in the aisles with pals, finding international treasures, and feasting on the cocktails and buffet!” Gregory admits she can’t take credit for all of the evening’s glitter; she says this year’s generous fashion sponsors, Natura Bissé and Etro, are sure to draw chic attendees. “We’ve always had a wonderful relationship with the fashion houses because our ladies are extremely fashionable,” Gregory notes, adding, “They love beautiful clothes as much as they love beautiful art.”

Fiona Druckenmiller, who has chaired Opening Night three times and twice graciously underwritten the soirée alongside her husband, Stanley, says nothing in the United States comes close to TEFAF. “Every piece is carefully vetted by jury of experts to ensure authenticity. As a buyer, you can have that faith and peace of mind that everything is legitimate, with no adaptations or modifications. That is truly unique to TEFAF.” Druckenmiller’s FD Gallery is always among the must-see dealers at TEFAF New York Spring, which specializes in the contemporary. As much as she loves exhibiting, she relishes the guest experience. “Many dealers hold back some of their best pieces to unveil for the first time ever at Opening Night. The excitement of seeing a piece that hasn’t been at their storefront or office is beyond magical. It’s one of my most favorite nights of the year.” 

To purchase tickets for Opening Night of TEFAF New York Fall, visit www.society.mskcc.org/tefaf.