Acclaimed artists and art dealers are gearing up for the world’s wealthy to step off their private jets and yachts this week and decamp to the Sunshine City for Art Basel Miami — but they won’t be the only people looking to capitalize on the five-day art fest.
That’s because since the sister festival of Switzerland’s eponymous event began in Miami in 2002, other industries have been quick to piggyback onto the annual gathering of the wealthy. After all, it is the one time of the year when serious art collectors, investors and high-net-worth individuals all converge at once in Miami, with more than 70,000 people expected to attend this year.
While famous designers will no doubt be spotted hobnobbing with the rest of the New York fashion set and enjoying the endlessly flowing Champagne at the plethora of parties, Miami’s nightlife won’t be the only thing on their minds. They’ll also be networking with some of their biggest clients, who collect fashion as well as art.
“I have an art collector who is the largest purchaser of Brunello Cucinelli in the United States. Cucinelli invites him to his place in Umbria,” Emily Santangelo, a New York-based art consultant, told WWD. “I can tell you that the world’s biggest fashion designers are quietly descending on places like Miami and meeting up with their collectors in both the art world sense and the fashion sense.”
And that’s not all. Many of the big fashion houses have jumped on the art installation bandwagon. Gucci, for example, has teamed with Artsy on a multiartist installation called Artsy Projects Miami, while the Loewe Foundation’s third “Chance Encounters” installation will be featured at its store in Miami’s Design District — and naturally many of these events will be kicked off with packed parties.
According to Robert Burke, the chairman and chief executive officer of retail consultancy Robert Burke Associates, as well as being a clever marketing tool, these installations give brands a chance to feel out the market and the appetite of connecting with an artist without launching into a major collaboration globally.
“I think brands are always looking at how to collaborate with art and artists. We’ve seen many good collaborations lately, such as Gucci, and the art world is a natural connection to the fashion world, so it makes sense,” he said. “There is money to be made, but primarily this is about elevating the brand and distinguishing it from another.”
It’s not just the fashion world at play. Real estate agents and developers also use the decadent art fair as an occasion to showcase their opulent homes for sale in Miami and other cities, with many sponsoring events or partnering with organizations at their dinners or gatherings in order to connect their condominiums and mansions to the art world and catch the eyes of the rich and famous. Often events are held at the listings themselves.
“The person that has spent $100 million on a Da Vinci is certainly a prospect for high-end luxury real estate,” added Santangelo, when explaining the real estate industry’s interest in Art Basel Miami.
“You have to realize that there’s something very important that real estate offers art collectors and that’s walls. It’s what really goes with building the collection, especially for those people who are truly passionate and want to live with the artwork.”
All the stops are pulled out, with some brokers and developers chartering helicopters to show off the city’s new towers emerging out of the ground, while others host dinners on yachts docked outside the mansions they’re trying to flog. Then there’s the celebrity factor, with others hiring famous faces to attend their events at their listings to ensure they draw in a well-heeled crowd.
“Brokers sometimes hire a celebrity DJ or musician to perform at a private setting for a really exclusive small group of people,” according to Kipton Cronkite, an art curator and adviser. “You usually hear about those surprise performances after the fact.”
This year seems to be no exception on the party front. The 1 Hotel and Homes South Beach is hosting the New York Post Page Six Art Basel party on Thursday, which is expected to draw a crowd of celebrities and influencers.
The party will serve as an exclusive preview of the 1 Homes penthouse, which will soon hit the market for an undisclosed multimillion-dollar price, while Douglas Elliman Real Estate will be showing off its luxury projects such as Madison Square Park Tower in Manhattan, Monad Terrace in Miami Beach and London’s Chelsea Barracks when it takes over the Delano South Beach Hotel for its Elliman Magazine party on Friday.
Then there are the occasions when real estate and fashion work together on some of the wave of super-luxury residential buildings that are springing up across the city, the interiors of which will be decked out by major fashion designers.
Setting the trend is the Estates at Acqualina, a pair of 50-story luxury towers with 245 units that are currently being built in Sunny Isles Beach and whose lobbies are being designed by Karl Lagerfeld. It has invited a core group of Brazilian influencers such as Alice Ferraz and Lala Noleto to stay at their neighboring hotel during Art Basel and visit the model apartment in the sales gallery.
“Our developers are art collectors and so are our buyers. Art Basel provides a perfect opportunity to entertain guests at the Estates Sales Gallery and in Penthouse 45 at the Mansions at Acqualina which is a mini gallery in and of itself,” said Alexandra Wensley, vice president of communications at the Estates at Acqualina, whose prices range from between $4 million and $9 million.
“Brazil is an important market for us. Hence, we will be entertaining several Brazilian fashion and lifestyle influencers during Art Basel. It provides an ideal fit especially with our partnership with international designer Karl Lagerfeld.”
Missoni Baia, meanwhile, a 57-story, 249-unit building that is being developed by the namesake Italian fashion family and Oko Group in the up-and-coming Edgewater neighborhood, is offering its VIP guests and brokers exclusive tours of Design Miami (a design fair that always runs parallel to Art Basel Miami) with its interior designer Paris Forino.
This, however, is nowhere near as large-scale as their event to coincide with last year’s Art Basel when Vladislav Doronin, chief executive officer of OKO Group, held a party for 200 guests at his mansion on the exclusive Star Island, where speeches were given my Doronin and Ottavio Missoni Jr. from the Missoni family, while guests were serenaded by pianist Elew.
“Art Basel is one of the few times in the Miami calendar where all of these individuals come together in one place,” said Edgardo Defortuna, president and ceo of Fortune International Group, which is handling the building’s sales (prices range from $500,000 to $3.5 million). “By offering experiences such as the Design Miami tour with Paris, these individuals can experience the building in a new and interesting way that wouldn’t be available to them at other times of year.”
The impending arrival of the world’s wealthy will no doubt come as a relief to much of Miami’s luxury real estate community as the sales market has slowed against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty, as well as currency fluctuations. Combined, these trends have made competition tougher and Miami developers more determined than ever to make their projects stand out.
“While Art Basel Miami has always been important, it’s constantly growing in popularity so in the last couple of years as the market has softened its relevance and importance is higher than ever before,” Jonathan Miller, ceo of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, told WWD. “It’s a draw for the affluent and the affluent are the consumers that buy luxury properties.”