MIAMI — Though some dealers confessed to using denial and avoidance to cope with stagnating sales at Art Basel Miami Beach, at least they had a plethora of parties to choose from where they could drown their sorrows Wednesday night. And by the look of things, somebody must still be doing well. Fendi kicked off the night with a dinner celebrating Design Miami hosted by Silvia Venturini Fendi and Ambra Medda at Aqua, the new development from Design District mastermind Craig Robins. Becca Cason Thrash and Rebecca Carcelles arrived together at the waterside location, having bumped into each other at the Convention Center earlier. “After a while, you just want to look at a blank wall,” admitted Thrash. Carcelles was also suffering from some art-induced fatigue: “I had one more aisle to go, and I thought, I just can’t. My back was breaking.” As for artist Leo Villareal, he was just happy that there were fewer crowds. “It’s easier to get a cab,” he pointed out.
Lucky, since all the events weren’t concentrated in South Beach, as in other years, but spread throughout Miami.
Over in the Design District, Puma cohosted a sitdown dinner for several hundred guests to toast the Rubell family, whose annual exhibitions of their personal collections are always a highlight of the fair. This time around, the Puma-sponsored “30 Americans” show, organized in collaboration with Thelma Golden, celebrates African-American artists, many of whom were in attendance, including Kehinde Wiley. Naomi Campbell swung by and proclaimed, “It’s such an important time for this, especially in America with the new president.”
In between courses, the Rubells launched into a speech that raised a few eyebrows for length but won over everyone’s hearts. “What’s the secret to a marriage of 45 years? I just say yes,” said Don Rubell, before allowing his wife to take the mike. “The good news is you are not home watching CNN, you are here celebrating amazing talent,” gushed Mera Rubell before introducing each artist one by one and then launching into a bit of product placement. “I met Don in a library and he proposed to me before I even spoke. That’s how I feel about Puma. I know this sounds like an ad,” she continued. “But you can’t go shopping without a comfortable pair of shoes and that’s Puma. Without Pumas you are not going to find the art you want. We are a Puma family.”
Meanwhile, thing were getting raucous over at Casa Tua, where Allison Sarofim and Stuart Parr were hosting a dinner for their friend, Edmiston yacht company’s Diego Marroquin, with guests like Benicio del Toro and Rachel Zoe. Parr, wearing the same Takashi Murakami-inspired suit he wore to Sarofim’s Halloween party, stood on a banquette inside the Italian restaurant and began roasting many of the partygoers. “I’m only buying Chinese artists under 21, that’s what Simon [de Pury] told me to do,” he said, before putting a napkin on his head and launching into “Baruch Atah..” “Translated, that means, ‘I hope it’s not the “Grapes of Wrath,”‘” he said before imitating Larry Gagosian, who was standing next to him. “Someone asked Larry how he was learning Russian, and he said ‘One ruble at a time,'” said Parr, as Dasha Zhukova cracked up. While most in the crowd begged for more, some, including del Toro, snuck out to catch Grace Jones’ set at the temporary Le Baron inside the Delano’s Florida Room. “She was crying, it was so emotional,” reported one audience member. Meanwhile, any art lovers still going gathered at the Raleigh to gather strength for what Thursday might bring.