Wet Paint: Celebs Storm Art Basel Miami Beach, the KAWS Whisperer Revealed, & More Juicy Art-World Gossip

Which celebrities attended the Dior show at the Rubell Museum? What art did Justin Bieber choose to sell at auction? Read on for answers.

Swizz Beatz and Pusha T enjoying a stylish look at the Dior show. Photo: Nate Freeman.

Every Thursday afternoon, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops reported and written by Nate Freeman. If you have a tip, email Nate at [email protected].


There’s always a slew of high-fashion collaborations happening during Art Basel Miami Beach, but rarely do they threaten to upstage the fair itself. This year, Dior teamed up with Mera and Don Rubell to stage its pre-fall 2020 show in a warehouse owned by the collecting couple, and timed it to the opening of the Rubell Museum, the sprawling Annabelle Selldorf-designed complex that houses their world-class trove of more than 7,000 works. And together, the French fashion house and the mega-collectors pulled off a spectacle that served as a coming-out party for the Allapattah neighborhood, which is set to become a new arts destination in Miami—especially once a new Rubell-owned hotel opens, supposedly as early as next year.

A model outside the Dior show. Photo: Nate Freeman.

On Tuesday, after hundreds of attendees poured into the building with a runway snaking its way through the floor, it was a miasma of celebrities and art-world figures. Pace president Marc Glimcher was sitting a few seats down from Kim Kardashian, Thaddaeus Ropac rubbed shoulders with David Beckham, Kamel Mennour jostled next to Travis Scott, and Swizz Beatz plopped down next to Pusha T. Those in attendance had to endure a riotous hour-long delay inside the warehouse, with more famous faces entering the arena, and handlers struggling to get them to take their seats. Ricky Martin was mobbed by cameras, Hans Ulrich Obrist weaved past Kate Moss, and a very late Bella Hadid took her front-row seat—a few down from Daniel Arsham—just before the show began. After all the hubbub, the show itself was a brisk 10 minutes of sporty looks, a collaboration between Dior designer Kim Jones and the streetwear godhead Shawn Stussy. And afterward, the celebs were all invited to tour the Rubells’ hall of masterpieces—though judging by the long line of town cars in line to leave the event, most just went off to another party on one of Miami’s busiest nights of the year.


Lenny Kravitz, the living legend himself. Photo: Nate Freeman.

The Faena Miami Beach Hotel has been one of the swankier spots to host an event since it opened on Collins Avenue in 2016. And Faena House, across the street, counts billionaire collector Kenneth Griffin as a resident—and Larry Gagosian as a former resident, as he sold his pad there in 2017. But it’s way harder to score an invite to the private home of Alan Faena—the mega-developer who always, always has on a white fedora for some reason—on the mansion-dotted Pine Tree Drive. A lucky few got a glimpse on Wednesday, when Dom Perignon hosted an affair with rocker Lenny Kravitz dubbed “The Last Supper,” featuring endless bottles of the pricy bubbly. The scene was an intimate evening compared to the city’s more noisy proceedings, with Sean Penn walking around the grounds smoking a cigar, former Paddle8 frontman Alexander Gilkes palling around with architect David Adjaye, artist Chloe Wise sitting with Marc Glimcherand Rosario Dawson chatting with Paris Hilton. But perhaps Faena had an ulterior motive when he invited the well-heeled over to his private place: a tipster said he’s put the property on the market, with the listing price currently at $16.5 million.


They call him the KAWS whisperer. According to sources, the man who has been pulling off the biggest KAWS deals is dealer Todd Kramer, a partner at the Ross+Kramer gallery in New York. He’s been following the artist since well before his market exploded in the last two years, having tracked his transition from street artist to an auction darling who regularly achieves eight-figure prices. And he’s been behind several KAWS-related transactions, including a recent sale by a member of a fairly well-known mid-aughts rock band, who recently offloaded a work for around $3 million. And there are more in the offing. Plus, Kramer has a history of selling work by another street artist, Invader, who some think could have a KAWS-esque breakout. Last month, an Invader work at the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Sale estimated to sell for $150,000 ended up going for $1.2 million.


It’s a new era for the online auction platform Paddle8, as CEO Izabela Depczyk is departing and the new CEO, former Tumblr head of partnerships Valentine Uhovski, is looking to make his mark. And part of the master plan seems to be… Justin Bieber. The global pop sensation has curated a sale of 17 works alongside his wife, Hailey Bieber, that will benefit LIFT LA and Inner City Arts, with works by artists such as Virgil Abloh being offered to the highest bidder until December 13. But there is no KAWS in the show—notable considering that a number of Beliebers claimed that the “Sorry” singer was the person bidding on the record-breaking work, THE KAWS ALBUM (2005), which sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in April for $14.8 million. Bieber has denied that is the case.


The wildest rumor that was going around Miami appears to be debunked. By mid-day Wednesday, during the Art Basel VIP preview, word came down the transom that one of the most hotly pursued young artists was getting snapped up by Hauser & Wirth, the Swiss mega-gallery that’s assembled perhaps the most stacked artist roster in the game. The artist in question was Avery Singer, who last had a show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in 2018, but has been the subject of feverish speculation as to who would poach her, with Hauser, Gagosian, and David Zwirner all in the mix at one point. But the juiciest part of the rumor was the price tag. Several people were saying that there was a million-dollar “singing bonus” that was given to her to accept. But by Thursday, reps for Hauser were emphatically denying the existence of any kind of bonus, and said that with regard to any new artists, they had nothing to announce.


Anton Kern is opening a space in Tribeca… that Xavier Hufkens is completely rebuilding his headquarters in Brussels, knocking down one of the galleries to build out a six-story juggernaut…  that the Miami police filed a complaint about an installation by the artists Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares, installed at Untitled, because it featured an American flag hung upside down… that the hit-making producer, musician, and DJ known as Diplo is here in Miami to spin records at some parties but is also trying to buy work by Alex Da Corte… that Inigo Philbrick is hiding out from the authorities, not in Brazil as previously thought, but in Thailand….


*** Britney Spears celebrating her birthday among Baselers by going ice skating in the basement of the Miami Beach EDITION Hotel Monday *** Iggy Pop performing at the Gucci x Snapchat event that served as premiere of new short film by Harmony Korine *** Culinary god Daniel Boulud chatting up Iwan Wirth in front of the large Nicolas Party painting at the booth *** Bright Lights Big City novelist Jay McInerney at the Ropac booth, admiring the George Baselitz paintings *** Brian Bellott being celebrated for his solo booth with Moran Moran at a dinner at Forte dei Marmi *** ICA Miami Artistic Director Alex Gartenfeld toasting Damien Ortega at a dinner at the EDITIONSupreme founder James Jebbia being called for a table at Joe’s Stone Crab Monday night … David Zwirner leading his team of directors straight from his party at Soho Beach House Wednesday to the notorious South Beach gay bar Twist, and staying until the wee hours.


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