This year the Netherlands fair muscled up its contemporary art section to attract a new clientele. To stay in pole position, the team creamed off the exhibitors, eliminating the most humdrum galleries. 40 of the 279 participants were first-timers, mainly in the "Modern" section, with 13 new arrivals. Unheard of! Several French galleries joined the ranks, like Le Minotaure (which sold six pieces), Georges-Philippe and Nathalie Vallois (with a museum-quality focus on Niki de Saint Phalle), Almine Rech and Kamel Mennour, which pulled out all the stops with an impressive mineral- themed stand. But Old Masters still made up the core of the fair. True, there were murmurings that the most expensive piece was not a painting but a recent jewellery item costing €40 million. However, the level was as remarkable as ever. Domenico Fetti's "Melancholia", an early 17th-century painting shown by Lullo Pampoulides, won the palm in the "finest work" category. Museums proved highly active as a whole: for instance, Haboldt & Co sold the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam two oils on wood by Maerten van Heemskerck, part of a series now scattered between various museums. Meanwhile, the design section was sadly somewhat lacking in fresh blood, and it was hard to find truly outstanding pieces. Apart from the Americans, now few and far between, international buyers all reported present. "This was a turning point. The effects of the changes will have to be assessed over three years," said a top-ranking gallery owner. "It's also vital to create events to attract a younger audience; there is nothing going on in Maastricht during the fair."