Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton Ask Art Basel Fairgoers to Loosen Their Purse Strings

Do blue chip art purchases and major political donations go hand-in-hand?

Jeb Bush fundraising event with a painting from Romero Britto. Photo: courtesy the Jeb Bush campaign.

Jeb Bush fundraising event with a painting from Romero Britto.
Photo: courtesy the Jeb Bush campaign.

As the throngs of art lovers descend on Miami this week for Art Basel in Miami Beach, presidential candidates Martin O’Malley, Hillary Clinton, and Jeb Bush are all looking to get a little piece of the action. The three politicians are all holding major fundraising events during the fair.

Bush has enlisted Miami pop artist Romero Britto to host a “Pop Art, Politica, & Jeb” fundraiser on Saturday. Britto has also contributed a special portrait of the former Florida governor, posed against a background of stars and stripes. (It’s unclear why his brother, famed painter George W. Bush, didn’t handle the honor—maybe W is waiting until little brother wins the election, so he can include the portrait in his heads of state series?)

Ahead of Saturday’s event, Jeb will also host $1,000-a-head reception Friday night.

As a hometown boy, Bush’s Miami campaigning is perhaps to be expected, but Clinton and O’Malley, two out-of-state Democrats, are also hitting up the city’s donors this week.

“There’s been so much happening at Art Basel over the years that nothing surprises me,” billionaire art collector Norman Braman, himself a serious Marco Rubio supporter, told the Miami Herald. “The fair draws people from all over the world and all over the US. There’s a million events and a million parties… Some of these people that are coming here are obviously very involved politically.”

Hillary and Bill Clintons attend the unveiling of Bill's presidential portrait at the National Portrait Gallery in April 2006. Photo: Jonathan Ernst, courtesy Reuters.

Hillary and Bill Clintons attend the unveiling of Bill’s presidential portrait at the National Portrait Gallery in April 2006. Photo: Jonathan Ernst, courtesy Reuters.

The former Secretary of State is holding two receptions on Tuesday ahead of Art Basel’s VIP opening: a $1,000-a-ticket affair in Miami Beach (though apparently the cost rises to $2,700 if you want to speak with her and get a photo taken), and a $500-per-guest event in Pinecrest.

O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, is charging $250 for tickets to his fundraiser and concert on Wednesday, at the home of Richard Florida (yes, that Richard Florida, the guy who invented the term the “creative class”). “If you are heading to Art Basel after, their house is right down the street from the Convention Center,” notes the invitation to the event.

For the candidates’ sake, hopefully collectors’ deep pockets aren’t just for buying art this week.


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