The Sexy, Powerful, and Intimidating List: Who to Network With in Miami
Dust off your business cards and get your social calendar ready.
Art Basel in Miami Beach (aka spring break for the art world) is upon us, and that means it’s time to dust off your swimsuit, plan your social calendar, and start thinking about the real reason everyone decamps to Florida for the first week of December: No, not all-night parties and decadent dinners (necessarily). Networking! It’s all about networking.
But who, you may ask, should you be networking with? We’ve got 30 sexy, powerful, and intimidating art world power players you’d be lucky to strike up a conversation with. From Leonardo DiCaprio (good luck with that one) to Stefan Simchowitz. And if you’re curious whose stock has risen—and whose has dropped a few pegs—check out last year’s iteration.
1. Paul Chan
As the winner of last year’s prestigious Hugo Boss Prize, 42-year-old Chan has been a name on everyone’s lips. In addition to his acclaimed work as a visual artist, he also operates Badlands Unlimited, an indie art publishing company. What’s more, he’s got an in with uber-collector Dakis Joannou, who displayed work by Chan this year at his DESTE Foundation Projectspace Slaughterhouse on the Greek island of Hydra, where he holds an exclusive gathering every summer.
2. Liz Margulies
The blonde bombshell and former Gallery Girl splits time between New York and her hometown of Miami, and we’re betting she knows just where the party is at during the city’s biggest week. If it’s great art you seek, she can help with that as well: she’s the daughter of mega-collector Marty Margulies, who is known for providing exclusive tours of his storied collection, which includes work by Joan Miró, Willem de Kooning, and Donald Judd, to name just a few.
3. Isabelle Gmurzynska Bscher
The scion of the Zurich-based Galerie Gmurzynska is a stylishly-dressed fixture on the Art Basel in Miami Beach social scene. This year, the gallery is hosting an exclusive dinner with Germano Celant and Sylvester Stallone, but good luck wrangling an invite.
4. Leonardo DiCaprio
There is no doubt in our minds that actor and art collector Leonardo DiCaprio will make an appearance at Basel—likely playing it incognito underneath his signature cap and sunglasses. The real question, of course, is whether his model girlfriend Kelly Rohrbach (who is rumored to be his fiance!) will be on his arm or not. You may recall that last year, the 41-year-old actor was said to have left a post-Basel shindig with 20 women. Will he keep it tame this year or make a triumphant return to his playboy ways?
5. Maria Baibakova
Despite the fact that she’s just 29 years old, Russian beauty Maria Baibakova has cemented her status as a veritable patron of the arts as well as a regular on various best-dressed lists. But, sorry guys; Baibakova wed French financier Adrien Faure earlier this year in a luxe wedding featured in Vogue.
6. Harry Brant and Peter Brant, Jr.
Despite the fact that one of them isn’t even old enough to drink, the Brothers Brant (whose parents are publishing magnate Peter Brant and supermodel Stephanie Seymour) are ubiquitous at the kind of ultra-exclusive shindigs that have come to define Art Basel in Miami Beach. If you want to know what the beautiful people are up to on any given night, check out their Instagrams, where you’ll find them posing with a cavalcade of models and similarly wealthy teens.
JR’s identity may be something of a secret, but we think that adds to his bad boy appeal. Plus, the street artist has been everywhere this year: collaborating with Robert De Niro, protesting for #BlackLivesMatter, and working alongside fellow It-boy artist Daniel Arsham at the Tribeca Film Festival. A well-connected man of mystery hiding behind totally on-trend designer shades? Perfect Art Basel companion.
8. Magnus Resch
German author, art market expert, and Larry’s List co-founder Magnus Resch is another name you’ve likely seen everywhere this year. His new book “Management of Art Galleries” sent ripples through the art world thanks to its insights into the management styles and success secrets of big-time dealers like Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch. Whether or not you were a fan of the book (which many people were not), we imagine the 31-year-old’s expertise in the art world would make for interesting cocktail party banter.
9. Milo Moiré
Artist Milo Moiré is pretty hard to miss at an art fair—probably because she’s usually naked. She’s best known for performing at the fair’s Swiss iteration, among other venues, sans clothes, and needless to say, she always draws a crowd. Often, she also draws the attention of the police—she was arrested earlier this year in Paris for posing for selfies with tourists near the Eiffel Tower.
10. Ryan McNamara
After last year’s acclaimed performance piece ME3M 4 Miami: a Story Ballet About the Internet, Ryan McNamara returns to Miami to team up with Dev Hynes (of Blood Orange fame) on Dimensions, the culmination of the pair’s year-long residency program at the Perez Art Museum. Just call him the unofficial performance king of ABMB.
11. Helen Toomer
As the director of Pulse Contemporary, one of the week’s most popular fairs, Toomer is probably one of the most plugged-in people in Miami during fair week. Plus, she’s always impeccably dressed and rocks that signature white-blonde bob with aplomb.
12. Xin Li
Former actress, model, and professional basketball player Xin Li has been called “Christie’s secret weapon,” and that’s not far from the truth. The jet-setting auction house rainmaker is known for schmoozing billionaire collectors, which means she’ll be everywhere at ABMB. Just look for a gorgeous, 5’10 brunette with impressive knowledge of art and a pack of collectors eating out of the palm of her hand.
13. Nadine Johnson
Chic PR maven Nadine Johnson and her team maintain accounts with many of the week’s most formidable power players, and if there’s anyone who knows what’s up behind closed doors and inside sequestered VIP rooms, it’s her.
14. Larry Gagosian
Larry Gagosian is a man who needs no introduction, particularly at an event like Art Basel. But this year, the famed gallerist has teamed up with another familiar face: Jeffrey Deitch. The two are producing a group show in the historic 20,000-square-foot Moore Building that will feature everyone from established artists like John Currin to buzzy up-and-comers like Jamian Juliano-Villani. The exhibition opens on December 1, and you can bet there will be a line to get in.
15. Alan Faena
Argentine hotelier and real estate mogul Alan Faena, who owns several properties in Miami as well as in Argentina, will open the Faena Hotel Miami Beach with an exclusive party on December 1. Faena is a major patron of the arts through his Faena Arts Center in Argentina, the non-profit organization Faena Art, and the soon-to-be-open Faena Forum in Miami Beach.
16. Aby Rosen
If one person can be said to dominate the scene during Art Basel, it’s probably Aby Rosen. The real estate mogul and prolific art collector hosts one of the most exclusive annual dinners of the week at his ultra-posh W South Beach hotel in addition to the Dom Perignon afterparty that famously requires guests to pass through three separate checkpoints before entering. If you want to rub elbows with the A+-list (we’re talking everyone from billionaire art collectors to supermodels to Beyonce and Jay Z), Rosen is the guy to know.
17. Stefano Tonchi
W magazine editor Stefano Tonchi isn’t just in charge of one of the biggest culture, fashion, and lifestyle publications in the world, he’s also a veritable art enthusiast and a fixture at Art Basel events. Tonchi’s husband is David Maupin (one half of the duo at the helm of Lehmann Maupin), and between the two of them, they know pretty much everyone worth knowing.
18. Craig Robins
Real estate developer Craig Robins was a key player in the revival of Miami’s Design District and launched acclaimed design fair Design Miami in 2005. He also sits on the board of trustees at the Perez Art Museum.
19. Liu Yiqian
We can’t help but wonder if, on the heels of his major Modigliani purchase earlier this month, Chinese mega-collector Liu Yiqian will be in Miami scoping out more high-end works to add to his already impressive collection of art and artifacts. If he is, we’d love to meet him.
20. Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks
If you’re an artist (and even if you’re not), Christopher Lew and Mia Locks, the recently appointed curators of the 2017 Whitney Biennial are good people to get to know. The pair, both of whom are under 35, were appointed by the museum in the hopes of bringing a “fresh” perspective to the prestigious biennial.
21. Donald and Mera Rubell
Donald and Mera Rubell own one of the best collections in Miami Beach, and Art Basel is their favorite time to show it off. This year’s exhibition “No Man’s Land” features all female artists, including a “food performance” by their daughter Jennifer.
22. Peter Brant
If his designer-decked sons fit squarely in the “sexy” category, publishing mogul and art collector Peter Brant epitomizes “intimidating.” Brant, who also operates an arts center in Connecticut, prefers to surround himself with similarly rich and powerful figures, including his wife Stephanie Seymour, Larry Gagosian, and celebs like Jake Gyllenhaal and Owen Wilson, with whom he was spotted roaming the aisles of the fair last year.
23. Sylvester Stallone
Sly Stallone may be best known for his work as an actor, but that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing the visual arts as well. He’ll be present at Art Basel this year, hosting an exclusive dinner with Galerie Gmurzynska and Germano Celant. But the question is: can you manage to strike up a conversation with him without succumbing to the temptation to quote Rocky?
24. Tony Shafrazi
We’d be lying if we said we weren’t a little bit terrified of the venerable dealer, who is as well-known for selling work by blue-chip artists as he is for speaking his mind. Rumors that he’s planning a space in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood mean that he also may be hipper than us, which is a pretty deadly combination.
25. Klaus Biesenbach
We’re not sure what exactly it is about Klaus Biesenbach that’s so intimidating. Maybe it’s his coterie of famous friends, or that steely German stare? Whatever it is, it seems the MoMA PS1 director and Museum of Modern Art curator-at-large is indestructible: even after this year’s disastrous Björk retrospective, he’s somehow still on top. Now that’s power.
26. Theaster Gates
Theaster Gates has been everywhere this year, from his native Chicago, where he’s created a new arts center in an abandoned bank, to the recent Hirshhorn Museum gala in New York, where his performance was the highlight of the evening.
27. Zaha Hadid
Star architect Zaha Hadid has the kind of cool composure we envy, despite a constant roster of major projects—for example, that beleaguered Tokyo Olympic stadium project. Unsurprisingly, Hadid can be a bit of a diva. Earlier this year, she walked out of an interview with BBC when questioned about the safety of migrant workers building her Qatar stadium.
28. Lady Gaga
Okay, so Gaga seems a little less intimidating now that we’ve watched her shed tears, but that doesn’t mean that the pop superstar isn’t the coolest, most glamorous person in pretty much any room she walks in to. We wouldn’t be surprised to see her out on the town with arty pals Klaus and Marina Abramović this year in Miami.
29. Gavin Brown
Dealer Gavin Brown always manages to hit the mark between hipster and blue-chip perfectly, and his forthcoming Harlem gallery has sent ripples through the art world, with everyone wondering if it’s possible that upper Manhattan is the new Brooklyn. He’s that much of a trendsetter. Plus, we hear he knows how to throw a killer party.
Stefan Simchowitz, patron saint of the art flip, seems like he can be a bit of a loose canon if you’re not careful. But then again, for a certain breed of young artist, attention from Simcho can jumpstart your career, and we have no doubt he’ll be on the prowl this year.
31. LaToya Ruby Frazier
Chicago-based photographer and video artist LaToya Ruby Frazier is one of the winners of this year’s MacArthur Genius Grant, which she was awarded for her black-and-white photographs that explore identities of place, race, and family. What’s more intimidating than hanging out with a bona fide genius?
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.