MAASTRICHT, 2-12-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved and highly respected President, Willem Baron van Dedem. In him we have lost one of our most loyal and faithful torchbearers. We are immensely grateful for all he has done for us.
Willem Baron van Dedem (1929-2015) was admired by all who knew him for his strength, spirit and sharp eye. His expertise in the field of Dutch Old Master paintings originated from a true passion and love for the arts.
As a young boy he was captivated by the works of art in the collection of his great-uncle, the shipping magnate Daniel George van Beuningen, a collection that was fundamental to the establishment of the international reputation of the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, particularly in the fields of old master paintings and works on paper.
It was however not until the 1960s when a visit to an art fair ignited a fire that would continue to burn for the rest of his life. That fire was the excitement of being a collector himself, made possible by the considerable success of his business undertakings. For Willem van Dedem collecting was an ongoing quest for the outstanding, the excellent and the magnificent, eager to trade a work from his existing collection when he would have the opportunity to acquire one that he felt was even more desirable.
Willem van Dedem enjoyed learning from the expertise and opinions of others and in return would not hold back in sharing his own. Over the years he proved that he was willing to share more than just words: with substantial donations to the Mauritshuis, the National Gallery in London and more recently the Rijksmuseum, he has made some of the finest examples of 17th-century painting available to the public.
He also maintained good relations with art dealers and welcomed their observations. In 1997 TEFAF was therefore exceptionally lucky to welcome him as the President of our Board of Trustees knowing we could rely on both his business acumen and his views as a collector.
With his natural authority and his absolute sincerity he became the backbone of our Board. Accompanied by his wife Ronny, he would make time to visit dealers and the TEFAF office staff in the run up to the Fair. It was Willem Baron van Dedem who encouraged our organisation to be more open about life behind the scenes of TEFAF. The advanced vetting technologies and the spectacular annual transformation of an empty hall in the MECC in Maastricht into an art lovers’ paradise made him particularly proud.
TEFAF and the wider art world have suffered a considerable loss.
We are thankful for the many years Willem was part of our professional and personal lives. He played a pivotal role in our history and his legacy will continue to shape our future. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his wife Ronny, children and grandchildren.
With deep regret,
TEFAF Board of Trustees
TEFAF Executive Committee