Art Basel Miami Beach Highlights Art Market Boom
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Move over, Vegas; it's time to bet the bank on Art Basel Miami Beach , which this week hosts the high priests of art and the best of what over 250 galleries from around world have to offer.
In a year that saw the Francis Bacon triptych of Lucian Freud sell for $142.4 million at Christie's, the mounting fervor around the art market confirms it is buttressed against downfalls in the economy.There's also a larger tale here about how popular tastes are intermingling with new business models to create a breathtaking new vista for the arts scene, both in America and the world over.
The Art of the Deal
Meet Carl David, a third generation fine art dealer who operates his family-run enterprise, the David David Gallery in Philadelphia.
Though older, wealthier collectors may favor works from Modernism and European Impressionism whereas young collectors might respond more to contemporary and avant-garde pieces, the art market brouhaha comes down to simple economics.
"The kind of art that everyone fights over is in very limited supply," David said. "We're not talking about multiples but one of a kind pieces that surface on an irregular basis, so when inflation roars back, the values of the same works will grow silently and steadily thereby making them a phenomenal hedge against inflation."
Art Basel Miami Beach showcases the kind of art David is discussing. The pieces of blue-chip artists are on display this week to test the quickly rising waters of art market fervor. Jeff Koons's "Baroque Egg With Bow," a six-foot high stainless steel sculpture which sold at Sotheby's for $5.5 million, will be on display. Keeping it company in the rarified upper reaches of high art will be a Warhol self-portrait from 1966 priced at $4.7 million and a Picasso nude valued at $7.7 million.
Of the 50,000 visitors who are expected to attend Art Basel Miami Beach, only a few hundred may have the gold-lined pockets to afford these magnificent creations, but as exclusive clubs go, it doesn't get bigger or better than this.
Auction houses like to call such buyers "ultra-high-net worth individuals" and beyond the event itself, a whole ecosystem promoting a premium lifestyle has emerged to capitalize on this opportunity. Jewelry companies, real estate brokers, private wealth managers and socialites all queue up apart from the art connoisseurs, to add to the glitz and glamor of such a high profile gathering.
Does that mean Art Basel Miami Beach is out of bounds for the average art aficionado?
Not quite. The talks, films, and public works of art are all free. There are also reduced price tickets for students and seniors. While select events might be invitation only or prohibitively priced, culture vultures can gorge themselves on a whole set of satellite art fairs, like Untitled and NADA, that have coalesced around the main event creating a smorgasbord for the artistically inclined.