ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO!: The gates opened at noon at the Miami Convention Center for the fifth Art Basel/Miami Beach and by 5 p.m., many galleries were sold out of most of the works they were exhibiting. But even though the VIP collectors had early access to the artwork (the official — read: plebeian — opening is Thursday), buying was no easy matter.
Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, for one, was lamenting the loss of a work for which she’d been on the waiting list, only to find out that by the time she arrived, it was already sold. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “And we got here right when the fair started.”
The fair is like Supermarket Sweep, but the cheapest items start at around $15,000 (that would buy you a 2-by-3-inch pencil sketch of a lemon slice by Claes Oldenburg done on binder paper). Of course, rumors abound that some dealers show works to collectors before the fair starts (a no-no), and gallerists regularly put artwork on hold for good customers.
Among the shoppers were Peter Brant and Stephanie Seymour, André Balazs with Vanity Fair’s Elizabeth Saltzman, (Graydon Carter’s dinner was the big ticket Tuesday night), Tom Freston, Marie-Josée Kravis, Sandy Hill and the token Hollywood transplant, Keanu Reeves. Dressed in a suit paired with hiking sneakers, the actor, a contemporary art fan, was displaying considerable interest in two John McCracken sculptures. Meanwhile, neophyte collector-model Ines Rivero (a recent Miami transplant) was looking for photography and scooped up a Roni Horn photo series from Hauser & Wirth.
Brooke de Ocampo made the scene in an all-white, pleated-skirt ensemble. “I was supposed to play tennis, if you are wondering about my outfit,” she cracked.
Clarissa Bronfman jetted in for the fair but was fueling up to do the rounds with a quick food stop in the UBS Lounge. “The first year I came, I did some damage. The second year I came, I did a lot of damage,” she joked. “This year, Edgar was like, ‘Watch it.'”
But many concurred that, though the selling was going well, the works on offer were not of the caliber of the real A-list fairs. “This is not like Frieze,” said one dealer, referring to the fall fair in London. In fact, many of the serious collectors were planning to skip town today.