| Sep 18, 2009 |
Antique lovers gather in Florence for big show (Reuters)
Boh staff
By Staff

Antique lovers of the world get your minds—and wallets—ready.

The Florence International Antiques Fair returns to the Tuscan capital with 90 galleries from around the world taking part in the world-class gathering.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the event, which takes place every two years, and organizers have pulled out all the stops for the fair, which runs from September 26 to October 4 in Florence's Palazzo Corsini.

This is not London's Portobello Road or Rome's Porta Portese. This is big time, and, mostly, big money.

So don't expect to see cardboard and string price tags on the items. In fact, don't expect to see any price tags.

Prices can rise well above hundreds of thousands of dollars and are negotiated privately between the buyers and the selling galleries -- 72 from Italy and 18 from abroad.

The big-time buyers are usually museums, corporations, institutions and individual collectors who are not losing too much sleep over the current economic downturn and often prefer to remain anonymous.

Among the thousands of works on sale and show this year are a statuette in semi-precious stones portraying Paolo Giordano Orsini, the Duke of Bracciano, and a 14th century Madonna and Child made of wood and cork.

Two commissions will decide whether works can be exported according to Italian law and Italian antiquities police will guarantee the authenticity and origin of the pieces.

The organizing committee for the anniversary edition reads like a who's who of European nobility, real and residual, and also includes CEOs and art world luminaries.

But you don't have to be a millionaire or a countess to get in and look -- and maybe even touch. The entry price is just 10 euros ($14.50).

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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