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International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show Brings Treasures to UES

By Amy Zimmer | October 18, 2012 8:46am

MANHATTAN — Hunting for the perfect pair of wine coolers? How about elaborately crafted silver ones in George III-style from the 1800s? Or maybe a pair of silver art deco coolers from Denmark made in 1930?

The 24th annual International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show, which runs from Oct. 19 – 25 at the Park Avenue Armory, is the place to buy — or just gawk at — such silver and bronzes, swords and armor, rare books and carpets, jewelry, furniture, maps, manuscripts, marine artifacts and other objects, many of which are museum quality.

“It has really become a major international show. Everyone comes from all over the world,” said Brian Haughton, who with his wife, Anna — well-known ceramics antiques dealers — brought the fair to New York from London in 1989. “What we dreamt about came true.”

Considered one of the most prestigious and influential art and antique events, this year’s fair features 65 of the world’s top dealers — many of whom have been part of the event since the beginning — showing off objects that span millennia and prices, from a few hundred dollars up to the millions.

"Markets do change [but] basically good items never change, and people still want them," Haughton said. "People want to collect those great items."

The fair’s formula has kept the event going strong for more than two decades.

“If it works don’t break it,” Haughton said.  

But this year marks the first time a new installation is being created inside the fair’s café.

Famed interior designer Charlotte Moss will bring a taste of an authentic European garden to the restaurant, where guests will be able to dine among hedges along with life-size photos of lush greenery from renowned gardens of France and Italy.

When the Haughtons launched the event in New York 24 years ago, they changed the art world by creating the city’s first vetted fair where every object is looked at by a committee of museum curators and academics to make sure it’s up to the highest standards and not a fake. 

“When we started it, vetting was de rigueur in Europe,” Houghton said, explaining that if they hadn’t vetted objects for the New York fair, the European dealers would not have come to exhibit their fine wares.  “It makes sure the quality is sustained every year. It’s like the 'Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.'”

The art fair kicks off Oct. 18 with its annual preview benefit party hosted by the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center — long considered one of the fall season’s most glamorous parties for New York society (tickets start at $200).

Author, philanthropist and art collector of Orientalist paintings, Shafik Gabr will serve as “Connoisseur Chair,” and Sigourney Weaver was tapped to be "Celebrity Chair" of the event, welcoming the more than 1,000 expected guests.

The Society of MSKCC’s party raises more than $500,000 each year, all of which goes to the volunteer group’s patient care, research and education programs at the hospital.

“We have given them that night for 24 years, and it’s exciting to know the art has been supporting cancer research all these years,” Houghton said.

The International Fine Art & Antiques Show takes place at the Park Avenue Armory (Park Avenue at 67th Street) from Oct. 19 - 25. General admission costs $20.