How to Get a Coveted VIP Pass for Art Basel in Miami Beach

Got a billion in the bank? Art Basel doesn't care.


If you have a few late Picassos on your walls and just paid a record-breaking price for a work by Tauba Auerbach at an auction this season, chances are you’ve already been offered a “First Choice” VIP pass (Art Basel speak for V-VIP) to this year’s installment of Art Basel in Miami Beach.

If not (we’re as sure as you are that the VIP credentials just got lost in the mail) you could always try getting dolled up and standing in line next to a well-heeled cardholder—one with an unused +1, of course. If you’re lucky, that may well get you into the Art Basel in Miami Beach private view on Wednesday. But will it allow you entree to all the other fabulous VIP activities to be had in Miami this week? Definitely not.

For that, you’ll have to demonstrate some serious collecting clout. In the past show organizers have asked would-be VIPs for lists of artists “strongly represented” in their collections, galleries showing at the fair from which they purchase work on a regular basis, and a list of the museum boards (yes, you need to be on several) they serve on.

Needless to say, if you’ve just nabbed your first edition—even your first six-figure work, for that matter—you’ll be buying your ticket into the fair this year starting on Thursday afternoon. And if you have to ask for a VIP pass, you’re probably not going to get one. Best-case scenario, if you’re the hidden gem the Art Basel gatekeepers were always hoping to find, you might get in by Thursday morning for the fair’s VIP vernissage.

“First Choice” VIP Pass Perks

The extra effort to befriend some art world honchos or honchas would be well worth it. Holding a “First Choice” VIP pass means you can enjoy breakfast and a tour of the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse on December 3. That will still cost you $10. But it’ll be donated to the Lotus House Homeless Shelter, so it’s a good cause. A “First Choice” card will also get you an invite to brunch with Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale director Bonnie Clearwater and gratis access to all of South Florida’s art museums.

With the magenta card in hand, you can go puff away on a Davidoff cigar, in the exclusive Davidoff Cigar Lounge, a smoky area set aside in the Botanical Garden across from the Miami Beach Convention Center. And, you can sip on some Ruinart champagne while trying on a new timepiece from Audemars Piguet. (Sadly, none of those come without a swipe of another card, which we sure hope is black and titanium in variety.)

Should you run up quite the bill during your liquid dinner at the Ruinart bar and find yourself in a less-than-competent state of mind, your VIP card has a solution for that too: “Personal Assistance at the VIP Desk!” (as it exuberantly says in the guidebook accompanying this key piece of plastic). Our advice? On your way out, go pick up the five works you timidly put on reserve earlier in the day.


Go to artnet News’s Art Basel in Miami page for the latest coverage, including:

10 Ridiculous But True Rules For Navigating Art Basel in Miami Beach

9 Art World Pick-Up Lines Guaranteed (NOT) To Work At Art Basel in Miami Beach

15 Art Basel in Miami Beach Parties You’ll Never Get Into

Art World Sexy, Powerful, and Intimidating List: People You Need to Network With in Miami

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