The 13th edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach was already looking like a resounding success before the end of its second day on December 4 (the first day it was officially open to the public).
“This has been the best Art Basel in Miami Beach,” said Sukanya Rajaratnam, a partner of the Mnuchin Gallery in New York. “Attendance was strong and we met new collectors. We experienced strong sales with price points varying from $300,000 to $5 million.”
These included a sculpture by John Chamberlain, Miss Remember Ford (1964), which came with a $3 million price tag.
Swiss gallery Gmurzynska, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, also reported selling a Picasso for $1 million. At São Paulo’s Galeria Fortes Vilaça, a work by Beatriz Milhazes, who is the subject of a retrospective at Miami’s Pérez Art Museum, sold for $100,000.
Galeria OMR, from Mexico City, also reported selling a James Turrell work for $900,000. A gallery representative said the piece will remain in Miami, where the buyer hopes to put it on public display for at least a year.
Reports of major sales had already started trickling in by the end of the VIP preview day (December 3) and they continued on the main opening day. Dealers said increasingly well-curated booths, a burst in demand and interest from across Latin America, and the art market’s growing synergy with fashion, music, and design were all contributing factors.
New York dealer Sean Kelly told artnet News: “I would say so far it’s an absolutely extraordinary start to the fair.” His eponymous gallery has exhibited in Miami since the start 13 years ago and he characterized the recent opening days as the “strongest” to date.
Kelly said that what was particularly interesting was the depth of collecting from Latin American countries. “The fair has always drawn those with second homes in Miami, particularly from Brazil, but this time we are getting collectors from Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, all across Mexico, and Chile. It’s much deeper and stronger than we have ever seen.”
By the end of the preview day the gallery’s sales to private collectors and museums included work by its artists Jose Dávila, Iran do Espírito Santo, Idris Khan, Rebecca Horn, and James White. Other sales included works by Kehinde Wiley at $125,000 each and by Hugo McCloud at $25,000 each.
“There is always great energy on the opening day of Art Basel Miami Beach,” New York dealer Jack Shainman told artnet News. “We sold more than half of our stand in the fair’s first few hours.” Among the gallery’s sales were works by Shimon Attie, Yoan Capote, Nick Cave, Enrique Martínez Celaya, Hayv Kahraman, Titus Kaphar, Hank Willis Thomas, Carlos Vega, and Carrie Mae Weems.
“The fair feels more grown up from year to year,” said Lehmann Maupin co-founder Rachel Lehmann, adding that this edition was much more “exhibition-like.” “I believe is important for the viewer and the artists represented as an opportunity to understand the work better.”
Among the sales Lehmann Maupin reported were: Adriana Varejão’s Polvo Portraits IV (Seascape Series) (2014), a triptych priced around $400,000 and Teresita Fernández’s Golden (Obsidian Double) (2014) priced around $250–350,000.
Pace Gallery president Susan Dunne said that in addition to the fact that there appeared to be more European collectors in attendance, the growing success of the fair “comes hand in hand with the entire art market. It was a large crowd, excited to come and to buy.”
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