Vincent Geerling

Vincent Geerling, chairman of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA).

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Antiquities dealers boycott BRAFA

Ancient art and antiquities dealers boycotted the latest BRAFA fair in Belgium this year due to a “hostile environment”, with dealers claiming checks in previous years made it impossible for them to exhibit.

Vincent Geerling, chairman of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA), said: “Unfortunately, the Belgian authorities created such a hostile environment at BRAFA. Brussels was once a pleasant and thriving environment for the art trade; unfortunately not any more. No area of the market is subjected to more scrutiny from the authorities than antiquities, and we are at the market’s cutting edge when it comes to compliance. Reputation is all, so we go to great lengths to ensure dealers trade honestly.

“We have been working positively for years with various international bodies and law enforcement to improve confidence in the market but, so far, have received little to no consideration in return. It is time for that to change or, as with BRAFA, we will vote with our feet.”

BRAFA blamed the issues on the anti-money laundering regulations in Europe.

A spokesperson said: “We are convinced that we must defend our profession and BRAFA for a more transparent art market.

“However, we also believe that there should be a legally approved framework for the authorities to carry out these controls.

“Each year, BRAFA ensures that all the works of art on display are duly checked before the opening, thanks to the work of international experts, the Art Loss Register and a mobile scientific laboratory that is present throughout the procedure. All parties share the same ambition: to prevent any kind of illegal practice and to make the art market as respectable as it should be.”

BRAFA said it will always welcome back dealers to the fair from the antiquities sector.

For a review of the latest BRAFA and sales from the exhibitors who were in attendance see page 50-51.

Hansons launches auctions in Kent

Charles Hanson and Robin Fletcher

Charles Hanson and Robin Fletcher at Hansons Tunbridge Wells at The Pantiles Arcade.

Derbyshire auction house Hansons has expanded into a fifth location, opening a saleroom in Tunbridge Wells.

Founder Charles Hanson has hired valuer Robin Fletcher as saleroom manager for the Kent venture with the first sale scheduled for May.

The new saleroom, as tipped in ATG No 2561, joins an antiques collective at The Pantiles Arcade which is led by decorative arts specialist Eric Knowles and business partner Robert Woodmansey.

The Hansons saleroom at 49 The Lower Pantiles will focus on quarterly fine art and antiques auctions scheduled for May 23, August 31 and November 21, followed by a range of specialist sales in due course. It will also host free valuation days on Fridays and Saturdays (10am-3pm).

Clock dealer Richard Price has also now opened in the centre, joining a host of decorative arts dealers.

CADA announces new fair dates

The Cotswold Art & Antique Dealers’ Association (CADA) Fair has new dates for this year. It will now run from November 17-19 at Compton Verney to coincide with an exhibition at the Warwickshire venue.

In 2019 it swapped its previous venue, Blenheim Palace, for the museum and moved from spring to autumn dates, holding its first fair there after lockdown in October 2021. It returned in October last year.

Welch joins the Noonans team

Michael Welch

Michael Welch is working with Noonans.

Valuer Michael Welch has joined Noonans to work on valuation events with a particular remit to source objects of vertu and silver, an area that Noonans is expanding into.

Welch, formerly of Bonhams, also previously worked at Phillips and is a member of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow team.

1818 appoints stamp specialist

Andy Bowden

Andy Bowden has joined 1818 Auctioneers.

Stamp specialist Andy Bowden has joined Cumbrian saleroom 1818 Auctioneers.

Bowden, who is a member of the International Philatelic Traders Society, will oversee six specialist stamp auctions this year, including a two-part auction that showcases a single-owner collection of Graf Zeppelin Covers.

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In Numbers



A 1942 edition of comic book Tintin in America by Hergé.

Image: Hergé/Tintinimaginatio 2023.

A full-page cover of the 1942 edition of comic book Tintin in America by Hergé took €1.7m (£1.5m) or €2.16m including buyer’s premium, making an auction record for an original black and white drawing by the Belgian cartoonist. Following a phone bidding battle it sold to an international collector at Artcurial in Paris, against an estimate of €2.2m-3.2m. The lot is accompanied by a certificate from the Hergé authentication committee.