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This year’s line-up of some 80 top dealers added names like New York’s Richard Feigen and Acquavella; Belgium’s Axel Vervoordt; Holland’s Noortman and London’s Mallett to an already illustrious list.

However, this year’s fair was not as successful across the board as last year and fears of an adverse economy had its effect as buyers returned to the rich man’s staples of 20th century paintings and jewellery for the really big money.

Jewellery was the runaway success with London dealer Graff selling $9m worth of rocks to one client and another London dealer, David Morris, having more than $3m worth of rings stolen from his stand in an audacious heist which involved the theft of one of six keys to a glass display case. However, David Morris still reckoned he had a very successful fair, as
did New York jeweller Fred Leighton.

This year million dollar plus picture sales were very scarce, but there were plenty of what was described as mid-range sales, and that is American for five-figure but also six-figure sales.

From London Frost & Reed, Richard Green and John Mitchell were among the picture dealers happy with sales while Feigen from New York and Salis and Vertes from Salzburg also returned home with a profit.

Mallett sold enough to describe sales as “beyond expectations” while showing for the second time Mayfair’s Pelham Galleries repeated their outstanding success of last year selling top quality, important furniture and musical instruments.

Such sales belie any thoughts of Palm Beach being just a centre for glitzy kitsch – although it is difficult to completely eliminate that aspect of Florida life from any report of the everyday life of Palm Beach folk.

With a decorative rather than academic feel this Palm Beach fair has found its identity and proved its staying power. Perhaps not as good as last year but good enough to ensure a star-studded exhibitor list for next year.

I LIKE the story circulating among exhibitors about the security guard who escorted a lady who had bought $9m worth of rings from Graff across the road to her car. On being offered a $20 tip he turned it down on the grounds that after the purchase she needed the money more than he did.