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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Just when you think being fabulous isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, you realize that, indeed, it is. As if heading to Miami to spend a few days in the sun wasn’t appealing enough, the hosts of Piaget’s Art Basel party at Casa Casuarina Friday night, including Sally and Rufus Albemarle, Hope Atherton, Fabiola Beracasa and Celerie Kemble, were allowed to pick out any Piaget merchandise up to $10,000, just for lending their names to the invitation.

Though the evening wasn’t up to Gianni Versace’s glitzy standards (the house was bought by Peter Loftin in 2000 with plans to turn it into a private club), nearly all of Miami seemed desperate to get in. One party crasher pretended to be Nadine Johnson, who had planned the party from soup to nuts. Nice try.

As guests (including Jacqueline and Stella Schnabel; Michele Barouh, the creative director of Michele Watches, and Marielle Safra) walked from the swimming pool to the claustrophobic observation dome, Veronica Webb posed upstairs for a Vogue shoot for her new television series and Tommy Tune, in town for an exhibit of his palm frond-inspired art at a hotel up the street, stretched his long legs on a couch in the Morroccan Room.

As motley as the crew was, the Piaget party felt like the nightlife centerpiece of the week because at least it offered a scene change. Nearly all the major events took place at three hotels: The Delano, which was the site of book parties for Patrick McMullan and Terry Richardson; The Shore Club, which hosted soirees for The Scissor Sisters and Visionaire’s Toys issue, and the Raleigh, which had the staff run ragged from three separate cocktail parties (one for Lisa Eisner, another hosted by White Cube gallerist Jay Jopling and yet another for Richard Meier’s 70th birthday), a brunch for Rem Koolhaas, a dinner thrown by Yvonne Force Villareal and a screening of “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” where, for whatever reason, HBO Films chief Colin Callendar received a key to the city of Miami.

This story first appeared in the December 7, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

And there were more events scattered about town: a Bulgari-sponsored conversation between artists such as Jeff Koons and Jenny Holzer; a birthday party for MoMA curator Terrence Riley; cocktails at the Wolfsonian hosted by Andy Spade with Grucci fireworks on the lawn of the Best Western across the street. It almost made you forget that there was art to be seen (though most, like Spade and Albemarle, insisted they weren’t buying): at the convention center, in the design district, in trailers near the beach called “containers.” Every day, The Miami Herald, well, heralded the enormity and success of the fair, and on their Jet Blue flight home from Palm Beach, Beth Rudin DeWoody and Jane Holzer both expressed their excitement about the art they saw. “I was bad,” said de Woody, referring to her many purchases.

Art Basel was, after all, for art lovers, not celebrities, though Marisa Tomei helped McMullan sign copies of “In Tents,” Tobey Maguire strolled the convention center in a ratty white T-shirt in the hopes of bettering his collection and Elizabeth Berkley helped hubby Greg Lauren celebrate the opening of “Hero,” his exhibit of dark etchings featuring comic book superheroes. Batman shoots steroids; Wonder Woman is portrayed as a porn star, and in a bit of synergy, some of the characters pose for magazine covers of Vogue and the Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair.

Anna [Wintour] hasn’t seen it yet,” said Lauren, referring to the Vogue cover. “But I’d like her to.” As for Vanity Fair, “I love and hate the Hollywood issue. I can’t wait to read it but they treat celebrities like heroes.

“I love superheroes,” he went on. “Because of my family, I grew up with the idea of icons of style, but what’s behind the facade?”

Still, the overarching feeling of the weekend wasn’t so much party fatigue as people fatigue. There were only so many New York transplants to go around so you’d see the same folks at the Raleigh pool, the News Cafe and the Walgreens on Lincoln Road. Fifteen minutes after running into, say, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn at an event, she’d be at the puppet installation everyone was talking about. By the time a party was getting off the ground, you’d be on to the next.

Nowhere was this more evident than at Richardson’s party, which tantalizingly promised a posed photograph of at least 50 naked participants in the Delano Pool. At 11:30 p.m., only two massage therapists from Sweden (where else?) had their clothes off. “Nude is good,” they said as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” played over the speakers.

“We need naked people,” the DJ shouted about an hour later, before joining the massage therapists in the water, who at this point were doing something akin to synchronized swimming.

“Big deal,” said hairstylist Ric Pipino as he surveyed the scene. “This happens every day at the Delano.”

When Meier showed up roughly to the tune of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” most of the guests decided to heed The Clash and take a hike. Though party planners insist that more than an hour later publisher Benedikt Taschen and his fiancée, Lauren Weiner, were among the many buck naked, a promise at 1 a.m. of two free nights at the Delano for the first 100 people to take off all their clothes and jump in the pool went untaken. Even in Miami — even for Terry Richardson — it seems that some people can’t be bought.

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