Less than a year after he was hired as global managing director, Bart Drenth has left TEFAF, one of the world’s top art fairs, after Artnet News reported last week on his behavior on social media.
TEFAF, full name The European Fine Art Fair, hosts annual editions in New York and Maastricht, the Netherlands. Drenth, who was based in the Netherlands, helped facilitate the fairs in both cities.
When hired last December after a stint as interim director starting in February 2022, Drenth became the fourth director in three years. At the time, Hidde van Seggelen, president of the TEFAF executive committee, praised Drenth for his “proven track record in business development, strategy, and non-profit in the cultural sector.”
But this past Friday, Annie Armstrong revealed in an Artnet News “Wet Paint” column a largely unseen side of Drenth: his Twitter, which is now private. The article contained word of a spread of tweets that decried leftism and “woke” culture.
“Just as with the Iranian revolution in 1978, left-wing do-gooders stand hand in hand with jihadists. Not knowing that after the success of the revolution they will die first,” read one from August 2022, when he was still TEFAF interim director, according to Artnet.
“Speculating about the transition of the population is only a problem when you are not a Muslim,” reportedly read yet another.
Still one more read, according to Artnet, “Woke is the new Westboro: Hyper-Calvinistic hagglers.”
Asked to comment on the matter by Artnet, Drenth said, “My Twitter feed expresses my personal opinions and I separate this from my work at TEFAF. So I will not comment on that.”
TEFAF’s announcement of Drenth’s departure stated that he would focus on his consultancy firm, the Amsterdam-based Bart Drenth Advies. The release did not mention the Artnet report on his social media.
Van Seggelen, TEFAF president, said in a statement on Wednesday, “The board is grateful to Bart for his accomplishments achieved as Managing Director of TEFAF. Bart joined TEFAF at a time of great upheaval and transition caused by the pandemic when the art market and fairs were just returning to business. Despite these challenges, Bart’s leadership, fiscal discipline, and efforts to align and structure the team led to stability and progress for TEFAF. This year, TEFAF held two successful editions in Maastricht and New York, indicating that the foundation and fairs are well-positioned going forward. The board wishes Bart all the best in his future endeavors and thanks him for his service to TEFAF.”
“I have nothing to add to the statement of TEFAF, except that it has been a pleasure and privilege to work for TEFAF,” Drenth wrote in an email to ARTnews.
TEFAF said it would announce the new leadership structure for its fairs in the coming weeks.