An island about a mile in circumference at high tide, quite a bit larger at low tide. A luxury Robinson Crusoe retreat off the coast of Zanzibar. The dream of a “pazzo” italian. A semi forced acquisition by the former CC Africa now,  &Beyond that wanted to purchase the Ngorogoro Crater Lodge and  had to take this resort to clinch the deal- it is now one of their most popular.  A honeymoon hot spot, scuba divers paradise. A beach retreat after a safari. A quick get away for South Africans. To know Mnemba is to love Mnemba.

12 luxury bandas- if by luxury you mean no windows, mosquito netting gracefully draped over your bed, thatched floors, no noise except the doves, perfect service, immaculate soft white sand, lovely food,  a clear blue ocean with dhows on the horizon.


It is a bit of a hike to get there, about an hour drive from Stone Town, Zanzibar’s capital and a Unesco World Heritage Site, though the access road is improving- hard to decide if that is progress as it may mean more people on the coast- a One and Only development is rumored. We tend to fly to Dar Es Salaam from Amsterdam, spend a night or two at the lovely Oyster House in Dar and then fly up to Stone Town- more on that in a separate post. The drive is followed by a short boat trip, departing from the beach amid the fishing dhows and, depending on the time of day, the fishermen laden with octopus or fish hung from small hooks.

The fantasy then begins. Many of the staff assemble at the beach to great you with waves, cold towels and lime drinks. You meet your personal butler. Your luggage is whisked away to your banda. You are given a brief tour of the resort, boat house, dining area, living room, shop, dropped off at your banda and left to relax, swim, paddle board, snorkel….

If you are lucky, during your stay you will have the opportunity to see giant sea turtles come up the beach in the dead of night to lay their eggs or- 52 days or so later – ” assist” by standing near and deterring crabs and birds in the determined walk of the newly born turtles to the ocean. Those are not tire tracks….

You will definitely have the opportunity to encounter at least one of the tiny deer like inhabitants, the shy Suni and even shyer Ader that roam the island. The rustling you hear around you is often them or the crabs, scurrying to hide from you.

Sundown in Africa is always a special event and at Mnemba you may be taken out in a dhow to sail about the island with the libations of your choice or your wonderful butler – Roger in our case- will bring it to your beach. A bit later in the evening, all of the guests and a few members of the staff assemble in the living room area, an open bar area for drinks, to share stories of their day and other travels. A great way to learn more about the wonders and beauties of Africa.


Dining is generally in the small dining area, with tables set out on the beach, lit by candles though “special” evenings are surprises organized by the staff with tables set up in the middle of the woods, outside of your banda on the beach. The food is healthy, tasteful and varied- you may end up craving red meat after a few days and if so they can accommodate a hamburger. Although there is a set menu for each meal, at breakfast, the chef will come by,  tell you about it, and you are free to make any changes you desire.

A member of the staff is a fantastic massage therapist and yoga practitioner- Dale I miss you- and also comes by either at breakfast or during lunch to arrange for times. The massages or yoga sessions are set up in your banda.

The scuba diving and snorkeling occur either right off the beach, or after short boat rides to adjoining reefs.


Time flies by and as soon as you leave, on the flight back, you plan your return.



Maastricht Tefaf. Day 2

I started off the day in the Antiques section. A well represented section with 96 booths. This area was quite a treat and based on proximity to the entrance prime real estate for the fair. It also in my mind qualified for some of the more extravagant booths as palatial rooms with rotundas an columns were created to house the beautiful wares like the one by Robbig- Munchen.


At Piva&C  Milano  I found beautiful lacquered moor figures mid 18th century  Venice, small 3 inch pocket globes be of which depicted Captain Cooks voyage and utensils from the 17th century with handles depicting mythological figures an allegories.


Pieter Hoogendijk, Naarden  had a beautiful armoire veneered with Ebony, Rio and Hondurras Rosewood and Tortoise shell attributed to Herman Doomer mid 17th century


As usual Axel Vervoort curated a beautiful arrangement of old and new, including a Giacometti cat and an AnishKapoor marble.


Antiquites were well represented as at Charles Ede and Rupert Wace Ancient Art


Harmakhis Archeologie has exquisite Bronze Age jewelry including a pair of Salgotarjan arm spirals from 1400–1300BC and a pair o spiral bracers.


The curated contemporary show Show Your Wound was anachronistic in the setting of the fair and in my opinion continues to seem an afterthought. I completely understand the fairs need to bring contemporary into the mis but perhaps taking a cue from the Venice Biennale and giving it a central dramatic space and emphasis would be more effective.


Then we moved into the Modern section. Quite a mixed bag of works but all of high quality were shown by the 52 exhibitors.

At Cardi Gallery a wonderful Gunther Uecker Weiss from 1988 drew my eye


Galerie Karsten Greve was a real treat as usually the Galerie at shows in the states only comes with a tiny selection of works. Here they had wonderful Fontana’s  – including glazed ceramic pieces – I particularly liked crucifixion -as well as Louise Bourgeois, Twombly, and  Joel Shapiro works.


Van der Weghe Gallery had some spectacular works by Picasso, Basquiat and Wool


Galerie Odermatt, Vedovi, Brussels also showcased Wool, Fontana, Twombly,  a tiny gem of a  de Kooning, and a haunting Magritte named ElseneurIMG_0072.JPGIMG_0071.JPG

Galerie Delaive showed several  Sam Francis pieces including particularly large 180×240 cm one


Hammer Galleries put together a beautiful show of Picasso and Matisse. Although they stressed in the presentation he influencers respect the two artists had for each other, the works did not necessarily make that point as the masterful exhibit by Moma has done.  Still the works were beautiful and the booth a pleasure.


Landau- probably one of the less curated booths but a plethora of nice works by among others Moore, Arp, Miro, de Chirico, Picasso, Marini, Gris, Tanguy, Ernst, Modigliani and Leger.


Tefaf is definitely worth a visit. It is a wonderful experience in a wonderful city…. more on Maastricht to come. I cannot recommend the experience enough. It typically runs early to mid March… See you there in 2017?

It is unclear if the expansion move to New York will change the experience. Many of the collectors were American in particular this year and many were there for the fair, to buy. Will the dealers therefore cease to bring their top works to Maastricht and instead opt to bring them to New York? Even if some of the top dealers were to do that it would change the feel of the fair and its importance. Time will tell


Maastricht Tefaf 2016

After years of wanting to come to Maastricht for Tefaf, I finally made it in 2016. And I was very glad to do so before its ” expansions ” to New York. What a difference feel  from the insanity that pervades other art fairs, Art Basel in Miami for example.What a focus on the artworks rather than the outfits of the viewers or the selfies with celebrities.  Perhaps the fastest way to convey the difference is that at Maastricht within the fair there are fabulous and fancy eating establishments. I counted eleven ranging from the fanciest which I believe to be the Restaurant La Concorde to a Tapas Bar. There were no celebrities on view and the fashion quota was minor. The art was spectacular. T

To my eyes,  the fair is a beautifully curated assembly of old and modern masters with an emphasis on Dutch and Italian masters to which a mix of highly curated precious objects one might find at the Armory Show in New York, FIAC, or the Paris Biennale and a walk through top end jewelry stores have been added. The various alleys even had the names of high rent streets of New York and Europe- Fifth Avenue, Bond St, Faubourg St Honore. The design section seems like an overthought as does much of the contemporary.

Although it seemed a shame to me that the fair was divided into sections, Painting, Antiques, Modern, Design,Classical  Antiquities, La Haute Joaillerie- I quite prefer the Italian esthetic of mixing styles and seeing how works hold up against each other- the display did help you figure out where you were on the map. It also enabled the collectors who seemed very focused and somewhat more one dimensional that I had expected to not have to waste there time looking at periods of work they did not care for. There is a theory that because Maastricht is difficult of access the collectors are more serious. They may be more serious but the difficulty of access is grossly overstated.  Brussels is an hour and a half away as is Düsseldorf. Amsterdam, surprisingly to me who never looks at a map rather further. Trains, cars and taxis are all viable options.

The fair draws 75,000 visitors, has 270 dealers and is massive. Perhaps the size of the various objects, including miniature netsuke and Faberge carved animals, as well as the span of history covered force one to slow down and leisurely admire the works on view.


Fortunately for those with time, the fair runs far longer than those in the USA.
Caylus Madrid has the complete set of eight paintings by Jacob de Backer made for the Marquis de Alfarras for the Palace of the Labyrinth of Horta, Barcelona Spain

Picture of grammar one of the paintings

Galerie Talabardon and Gautier Paris has the “new” find Rembrandt’s sense of smell a quite small.

G Sarti some beautiful italian religious  tempura on board icons

Agnew’s a small Van Dyck

and Fergus Hall a Van Dyck and Rubens



Conversation overheard- if you owned a Franz Hall’s– oh but you do…

De Jonkheere- Paris and Geneva Lucas Cranach the Younger, Abel Grimmer, Peter Brueghel the Younger and of course a Bosch




at Carlo Orsi Milan London a rather gruesome Neapolitan wax model of St John the Baptist’s head  which I did not photograph and a lovely Jan Brueghel the Elder a wooded landscape with St. John the Baptist

At Moretti a wonderful threesome of Bulgarini from Siena

At Patick Derom Gallery a beautiful Pol Bury


And an Alberto Burri at Tornabuoni Arte Florence

Fontana’ galore at Tornabuoni among others


Pearl Lam held court surrounded by a bevy of beauties. She had the best outfits….

Ben Brown Fine Arts showcased a prickly Anthony Gormly and a wonderful Vik Muniz Postcards from nowhere of Delft


Kugel a beautiful and complete chess set with a decor of chinoiserie S Augsburg and Dresden circa 1715


Heribert Tenschert Manuscripts Switzerland had a number of fabulous

Van Gelderland Traditional Indian Folk Jewellery

Jorge Welsh London Lisboa interesting pair of Painted Nodding Head Figures-,description did not state if like bobble head dolls they actually nod

A la Vieille Russie a wonderful series of Faberge carved animals and a gorgeous Novgorod Merchant


And that is all for day 1….. Quite a treat