At last year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, the art dealer Larry Gagosian fretted the fair’s numerous parties might have spiraled out of control into a “social rat f–k.”
The scene outside of The Raleigh Hotel Wednesday night made his eloquent sobriquet look quaint.
This story first appeared in the December 5, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
At around 10 p.m., gridlock dominated two separate entrances alongside the historic Art Deco hotel as mobs pushed, shoved, clawed and promised their firstborns to get inside.
Over the years, the social component of the fair — to reference Gagosian’s complaint — has grown exponentially, and there are always big scenes outside of high-profile parties. This was something else. For an evening, Miley Cyrus was highjacking Art Basel.
The minute the DayGlo invitations went out last week it was all but guaranteed that Planet Miley would eclipse everything in its orbit, including the official VIP opening of the fair set for earlier in the day. With the promise of one performance, she stormed into town like a great disrupter and whipped the normally blasé art world into a frenzy — Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA PS1 in New York, was front row like a giddy schoolboy.
“I only know we have more RSVPs than we can possibly handle,” said Tommy Hilfiger, one of the new owners of the hotel and one of the hosts of the party.
The concert was the handiwork of the dealer Jeffrey Deitch, himself a fan of disrupting the usual way of business in the arts, who has become friendly with the singer as she’s tried her hand at sculpting. It was something of a coup for him. After a stormy tenure as the director of the Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, Deitch suddenly had everyone’s attention again, if not necessarily the art establishment’s.
“Miley’s my girl,” said Jeremy Scott, who was among a crowd that included the director Michael Bay, China Chow, and the artists Kehinde Wiley and Dustin Yellin as well as Cyrus’ boyfriend, Patrick Schwarzenegger. The singer was to return the favor by attending a book party for Scott Thursday night at the Thompson Hotel. “I’m wearing the jewelry she made for my show. I’m really proud of her. I love watching her keep blossoming in her creativity and her artistic self for the world to see,” Scott said.
“My daughter Isabelle is here and she’s going [to the concert],” Peter Marino said earlier at a dinner in his honor hosted by Design Miami that was also attended by Domenico De Sole, Anna Zegna and Zegna creative director Stefano Pilati, Elle Macpherson and Wendi Murdoch. “She’s trying to drag dad out,” Marino continued. “But he’s the one with the business appointments in the morning. Someone has to pay for those Vuitton shoes.”
“I love how rad she is. She doesn’t care,” Bella Hadid said of Cyrus at the opening of Chrome Hearts’ first Miami store, which drew an eclectic crowd — Kate Hudson and Zoë Kravitz and also Iggy Pop, in Paul Smith, Greg Chait, and Rick Owens’ wife Michèle Lamy, who wore a striking mix of Owens and Comme des Garçons. “She’s changed a lot in the past couple of years,” Hadid continued. “But all for the better. She knows exactly what she’s doing.”
Despite the disorder outside the Raleigh, Cyrus took the stage at 11 p.m. on the dot — noise ordinances prevented her from running past the midnight curfew — wearing a silver confetti wig and singing Rick James’ “Super Freak” with a statuesque, bare-chested burlesque singer named Amazon Ashley. Before a 45-minute performance that featured a range of covers — The Turtles (“Happy Together”) and Johnny Cash (“A Boy Named Sue”) — duets with the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne, and smoking marijuana on stage, she gave the audience a sort of rambling artist’s statement.
“I had a great year, but everything seemed to not mean anything,” the singer said on stage. “It took a really sh–ty thing happening to me, and losing my dog, for me to get my perspective again and start making art. Because a dog dying is a really sh–ty f—ing thing.”
With all the hubbub, had anyone bothered to buy art earlier in the day? “Everything we liked…” Hilfiger said. “Was twenty and above,” his wife Dee interrupted him. “It’s not in the budget this year. We made a very big purchase,” she said, motioning to the hotel behind them. “This is our purchase for Art Basel, the Raleigh,” Hilfiger finished her thought.