Rich Collectors Not Deterred At Art Basel


Art Basel, the famous art fair in Miami, just wrapped up and the damage really wasn’t so bad. (Or, was it?) Attendance was only down to 40,000 from 43,000 from the year before. But, keep in mind that this was at the main fair. The event has, in recent years, attracted thousands more hangers-on who attend the smaller fairs around the city or just go to parties without seeing much (any?) art. No official word yet on how those Miami visitor numbers came in but hotel rooms were still available over the weekend, some restaurants were practically empty, and attendance at satellite fairs was slower.

But the usual suspect collectors were undeterred: Billionaire Eli Broad, hip-hop artist Jay-Z, and philanthropist Agnes Gund were spotted.

However, those who were buying didn’t act the same way they have in past years.

Bloomberg: Sales of artworks priced over $1 million took longer than usual to complete.

…Some high-end dealers showcased lower-priced artworks. At PaceWildenstein, which recently fired 12 per cent of the staff, 90 per cent of its offerings were under $500,000, according to gallery director Susan Dunne. Metal bracelets, necklaces and brooches by sculptor Alexander Calder were priced from $25,000 to $450,000.

…Some dealers said buyers weren’t shy about pressing for deals. London-based art adviser Nick Hackworth scored a photograph for a client. Asking price: $70,000. Selling price: $50,000.

Sales were strongest for younger dealers with rising artists.

We had zero expectations, and this fair performed the same as fairs before the recession,” said New York dealer Zach Feuer. He sold eight colourful Jules de Balincourt paintings with prices ranging from $24,000 to $65,000. New York real-estate developer Arthur Zeckendorf nabbed two: a surfing scene for his East Hampton house and a Lincoln centre vista for his New York apartment.