Overheard at the VIP Preview of Art Basel in Miami Beach

At art fairs, collectors and dealers say the darndest things.

artnet News was among the lucky group let into Art Basel in Miami Beach Wednesday morning for the VIP preview. So what’s it like milling about looking at masterpieces alongside some of the art world’s biggest tastemakers? We know it’s not polite to eavesdrop. We would never do that. But we couldn’t help overhearing some of the things dealers and collectors were saying as they embarked on a delicate (and sometimes not so delicate) dance of negotiation. Here is a smattering of some of the best things we heard:

“It’s on hold. . . for one hour.”

“No negotiation!”

“Let us know. We’ll do whatever you want.”

“No pressure…. But…”

“The price is $475,000.”

“I’m not positive. Maybe $48,000. I can find out.”

“You can tell me what the price is, but unless I know what it sold for…”

“Can you imagine getting to live with that?”

“Can I record this conversation?”

“I think he wants these black-and-whites to go to a museum.”

“I ended up seeing the work in São Paulo.”

Overheard in front of a Gillian Wearing portrait of the artist wearing a human-looking mask of her own face, a visitor asked a gallery director: “Is that you?”

Overheard in front of a massive Calder sculpture: “Want to ruin it by taking a picture in front of it?”

Regarding the resignation of Christie’s CEO Steven Murphy immediately after the resignation of Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht: “I’ve heard of price-fixing but CEO-fixing?”

“I’ve got a crew!”

“You CANNOT skip the Hamptons this summer.”

Question: “Is it P. Daddy or P.Diddy now?” Response: “It’s P. Duddy. He’s getting old.”

“Hey! There’s the power couple.” (We didn’t recognize them.)

“It’s the art world’s Black Friday except it’s worse because the women are wearing stilettos.”

“In Miami these three-inch heels are considered flats.”

“I don’t do hotels.”

A lost visitor: “I can’t believe I got this turned around.”

“Get off the phone!”

“All aboard the money train.”

Regarding artnet News’ “Sexy Powerful Intimidating List”: “What’s next, the well-hung list?”

“This is killer.”

“They’re really mind-boggling.”



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