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Omara Khan Massoudi and Michel Cox Witmer

Willem Baron van Dedem and Titia Vellenga

HRH Prince Constantijn


Dutch Prince Constantijn Aids
Cultural Emergency Response

Story by Roger Webster
Photos by Roger Webster and Capital Photos/Frank van Beek

ETHERLANDS HRH Prince Constantijn invited 100 art lovers to join him in one of the salons adjacent to The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht to learn about the Prince Claus Fund’s Cultural Emergency Response (CER) program.

CER provides global first aid for cultural heritage that has been damaged. It was created as a reaction to the looting of the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad in 2003.

To help illustrate how CER works, the Royal Family asked New York's Michel Cox Witmer, art historian and TEFAF board member, to conduct an interview with Omara Khan Massoudi, director of the National Museum of Kabul, who at great personal risk rescued and protected his museum's art treasures during Afghanistan's Taliban regime.

In his remarks, "We marvel at the artifacts that hold the key to our history," Prince Constantijn said, "and our ancestor's creations make us humble. Every one of these pieces is much more than a mere object. They embody dreams and stories. They show the power of imagination and the quest for perfection. They enlighten us, excite us, draw us in. Think how shocked we'd be if ours were lost or destroyed. To lose them would be to lose part of our past—our heritage."

Leading the applause were Maastricht Mayor Gerd Leers; Netherlands dignitaries Hans van der Broek, Frans Weisglas and Jozias van Aartsen; Centre Céramique's director Eric Wetzels (the company was the first to donate 10,000 Euros to the cause); Ute Magis; Tom Postma, architect of TEFAF, Art Basel and Art Basel Miami; TEFAF officials Willem Baron van Dedem and Titia Vellenga. and PCF officials Els van der Plas and Louk de la Rive Box.

TEFAF, held every March in the charming, historic Dutch city, is considered to be the finest art and antique fair in the world. This year's fair was one of the most successful in its 21-year history. Museum curators and trustees from 18 countries visited the Fair, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, and Bruce Museum of Greenwich, Connecticut.

The 10-day event drew 75,000 visitors, some arriving in the 225 private jets that landed in the local airport. This year the Fair swapped its traditional tulips for a spectacular display of 175,000 anemones, accounting for 70 percent of the world's March production.

Exhibitors included Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz, Mallett, a la Vieille Russie, Didier Aaron & Cie, Acquavella, Richard L. Feigen, French & Company, Marlborough Fine Art, S.J. Shrubsole, Axel Vervoordt, Christie's Haunch of Venison, Sotheby's Noortman Master Paintings, and jewelers Graff, Chopard, Bulgari, Buccellati, and Hemmerle.

Among the Americans and VIPs guests were the Aga Khan, Cy Twombly, Madame Giscard d'Estaing, Mick Flick, Emily Frick, Lord David Linley, David Patrick Columbia, Peter Sutton, Robert Couturier, Alex Gregory, Dr. Dino Rivera and Vanessa von Bismarck.

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