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The Art Daddy reports in from TEFAF New York 2024, where the daddies have been just as delicious as the champagne and oysters.

The 7th edition of TEFAF NY wasn't for the faint of heart. Having attended all previous fairs, I am no stranger to the VIP party at NYC’s famed Park Ave Armory, and generally make a well timed entry, and this year was no different. From stunning floral arrangements, open bar, and the famed oyster shuckers, this fair was giving on every level. But let's be real, I came like I do every year for the art daddies, and even celebrity sightings, and well, the art too. Also, I think the VIP opening day should be a National Daddy Holiday. 

The 2024 fair really delivered and with a level of decadence you can only come to expect at TEFAF. And quite frankly, the daddies and oysters here have been the only two things getting me through the last few weeks. I am happy to report that the daddies this year were even better than last year's. TEFAF can really be a game of extreme people watching, and this year it was art daddy palooza. 

Image courtesy of Jitske Nap/TEFAF

At previous fairs I have spotted David Zwirner. Once, in a champagne-fueled state I rattled off questions to him about how he wanted to change the fair format (this was fresh off comments he made in 2018 about bigger galleries being taxed to supplement smaller galleries). While last night wasn't so momentous there was still champagne flowing, daddies to be seen, and over 90 booths of art. This year's fair was packed to the gills, and I arrived around 5:30 to get a jump on the crowds. I think I really misjudged that one, because while there was virtually no one at coat check, once I got my pass to go in, I made my way to the bar on the first floor past the main entrance and some galleries. 

At roughly $100 a bottle, TEFAF doesn't skimp on the Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blanc, Rose and other top shelf options for their open bar. I got my customary glass of bubbly, and popped in (pun intended) to see the art at Venus Over Manhattan

From left to right: Adam Lindemann courtsy of The Art Daddy / Xenobia Bailey, Healing Mandala / Static Station / Serpert, 2003 - 05 courtesy of Venus Over Manhattan

This booth was particularly strong, and Adam Lindemann's gallery has helped distinguish itself over the last few years; I was very impressed by the group show he curated for this edition of TEFAF. Xenobia Bailey’s Healing Mandala / Static Station / Serpent Healer, from 2003 - 05 was a gorgeous standout textile work for me. Bailey has had a lot of commercial success over the last two decades and her focus on textiles which draws on a wide range of African traditions as well as the aesthetics of Afro Futurism, Funk and more. Lindemann is quite a character too and I came face to face with him last night (he posts regularly on IG and a personal fave is his Sunday Scratches in which he'll play an acoustic song and record it. This week it was Walk the Line). 

Lindmann is also married to art world powerhouse Amalia Dayan who is a partner in Lévy Gorvy Dayan. Lindemann and Dayan are both the definition of daddies. That was spotting when he came bounding into his TEFAF space with hors d'oeuvres and some drinks he had been able to snag from the servers for himself and his co-workers. We didn't get a chance to chat, but I made note of him bringing the snacks to his employees. 

Image courtesy of Julian Cassady/TEFAF

When I finally made it into the main space, I was hyperventilating at the sheer volume of daddies. I was engulfed in them, and as I entered the crowd, I let the daddies wash over me. There were so many. So. Many. Daddies. Everywhere. Of all persuasions. This fair has always been the height of daddy spotting for me and this year was no different. And I couldn't possibly talk to them all. 

I made my customary route around the fair, working quickly and efficiently to evaluate the art and the daddies. Let's be real, not every booth is equal and the same can be said for the daddies who staff them. There is also the local mix of UES/UWS daddies, Hamptons daddies, and the daddies from the city there to work or view the art. They excite me a little less. What I am looking for in a TEFAF Daddy is the kind of European flair and confidence that Henry Highley has in looks and attitude with the fashion sense of Darius Himes (while American, the man knows how to pick his suits), mixed with Benoit Repellin of Phillips. Also there is just something about a European daddy talking to you about art that feels less like mansplaining and more exciting. 

The oyster shuckers and Park Ave Armory waitstaff 

When it comes to TEFAF, one thing that is almost as synonymous with their brand as the art, is the oysters and flower arrangements. The oysters have been a part of their brand for several years and the shuckers themselves are all generally very attractive. Red Oyster, which is based in Maastricht is the company that works exclusively with the fair, has over 15 trained shuckers they use from all over Europe and I met some delightful shucker daddies there on Thursday. 

The wait staff at the Park Ave Armory, or whoever they use, thank you, you are doing God’s work. Not only are the majority of the people you are waiting on insufferable. The waitstaff themselves also just come from a better gene pool. It’s not hard to get another drink or pass hors d'oeuvres when the person feeding you or pouring your drink looks like a young George Clooney or Gigi Hadid. They are all beautiful and I think they are probably actors and models IRL, and if not they should be. 

Martha Stewart in the house 

No major fair is ever complete without a celebrity sighting and this fair was Martha Stewart. Martha looked understated in a gold sequined shirt, black leggings and pumps and she appeared to be accompanied by her own daddy. Unsure of their relationship, whether it's platonic or romantic, my takeaway from that spotting was, daddies are the must have accessories of 2024 and beyond. 

I met several dealers, art daddy fashion designers, artists, and galleries. Even when I left the fair which can result in a mass exodus of daddies trying to figure out what to do after TEFAF, I lingered and spoke to a French gallerist daddy smoking a cigarette who seemed stressed. He was headed to a gallery dinner after a grueling day in the booth. Despite his invitation to join him, I decided that I had had my fill of daddies for one night. With auction season next week, and the torch I am still carrying for Darius Himes and countless others, I am still weighing my options for the summer and beyond. 


The Art Daddy is a Brooklyn, New York-based daddy influencer and writer. AD runs the art world Instagram juggernaut account @theartdaddy_ and a weekly substack with the same name dedicated to all daddy and art things. 


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