Here’s What an Art Basel VIP Card Gets You

The lowdown on all the perks.

An Art Basel First Choice VIP Card. Photo: Aaron Sherman.

As the art world descends on Basel, Switzerland, for the eagerly-awaited annual Art Basel fair, it’s safe to say that some fair-goers will be enjoying a few more perks than others. Such is the beauty of the coveted and virtually-unattainable VIP card—and the even-rarer First Choice VIP card.

During the fair, cardholders can relax at the both the Collectors Lounge and the Davidoff Cigar Lounge, and enjoy the programming at Art Basel Salon, featuring a variety of high-profile speakers, from artists and curators to collectors and critics. To get around, there’s free transport on all Basel public trams and buses, and a VIP card also gets you free admission to all city museums other than Schaulager.

For those of us who aren’t billionaire mega-collectors or high-ranking museum officials, it’s nearly impossible to qualify for one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to dream that one day such exclusive VIP treatment could one day be ours.

Until then, here’s what the one percent has to look forward to at Art Basel.

Oscar Tuazon, Zome Alloy. Courtesy of Art Basel.

Rendering of Oscar Tuazon’s Zome Alloy. Courtesy of Art Basel.

Monday, June 13

art-st-urban Artist Talk
A talk with collector Uli Sigg and Chinese artists Yang Zhenzhong and Sun Xun is followed by lunch in the art-st-urban sculpture park.
Weierweg 2, St. Urban, Lucerne; 11:00 a.m.

Design Miami Vernissage
The art fair perks for VIPs extends to the opening festivities for Basel’s edition of Design Miami.
Hall 1 Süd, Messe Basel; 5:00 p.m.

Liste Preview
VIPs can also register for a first look at the must-see Liste fair, which features approximately 80 galleries featuring emerging artists from over 30 countries.
Burweg 15, Basel; 12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

Art Basel Unlimited VIP Opening
An early, VIP-only look at the popular Art Basel Unlimited sector, which features everything from live performances, video works, and larger-than-life installations and sculptures.
Hall 1, Messe Basel; 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.

Ugo Rondinone, The Gracious, at Art Basel's Parcours section, 2015.

Ugo Rondinone, The Gracious, at Art Basel’s Parcours section, 2015.

Tuesday, June 14

Art Basel Champagne Breakfast in the Rundhof
Nothing kicks off a day of blue-chip art hunting like a champagne breakfast. This one is for First Choice VIPs only, of course.
Hall 2 Rundhof, Messe Basel;9:30 a.m.–11:00 a.m.

Art Basel VIP Preview
All the other events are a nice bonus, but this is what the VIP card is really all about: Getting the very first look at all the best of what 287 international dealers have on offer for the year’s premiere art fair.
Hall 1 and 2, Messe Basel; First Choice opening 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.; Preview opening 3:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

Alexander Girard. Courtesy of Vitra Design Museum website.

Alexander Girard exhibition. Courtesy of Vitra Design Museum’s website.

Wednesday, June 15

Kunsthaus Baselland Brunch
This brunch affair for First Choice VIPs marks the opening of three solo exhibitions at Kunsthaus Baselland from German artist Christiane Lörh, British artist Jonathan Monk, and Dutch artist Jan van der Ploeg.
St. Jakob Stresse 170, Muttenz; 9:00 a.m.

Vitra Design Museum Summer Party
A short drive north into Germany, the Vitra Design Museum welcomes VIPs as it celebrates the exhibitions “Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe” and “Bless: Workout.”
Charles-Easmes-Strasse 2, Weil am Rheim, Germany; 7:00 p.m.–12:00 a.m.

Thursday, June 16

Fondation Fernet-Branca Breakfast
Just over the border in France, the Fondation Fernet-Branca will introduce VIPs to Philippe Cognee and Stephan Balkenhol, the subjects of one of its current exhibitions.
2, rue du Ballon, Saint-Louis, France; 9:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.

Kunstmuseum Basel Breakfast
First Choice VIPs get the chance to see the “Sculpture on the Move” and Barnett Newman exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Basel.
St. Alban-Graden 16, Basel; 9:30 a.m.–11:00 a.m.

Peter Fischli David Weiss, A New Day Begins, 1984, from the series Equilibres (A Quiet Afternoon). Courtesy of and Studio Fischli / Weiss © Peter Fischli David Weiss.

Peter Fischli David Weiss, A New Day Begins (1984), from the series Equilibres (A Quiet Afternoon). Courtesy of and Studio Fischli / Weiss © Peter Fischli David Weiss.

Friday, June 17

Fondation Beyeler Nocturne
Taking VIP to the next level, even a First Choice VIP card is not enough to gain entry to this invite-only affair hosted by Art Basel director Marc Spiegler and Fondation Beyeler director Sam Keller, which features a private viewing of “Alexander Calder & Fischli/Weiss” and the Roni Horn exhibition.
Baselstrasse 101, Riehen; 7:30 p.m.–10:00 p.m.

Saturday, June 18

Fondation Fernet-Branca Cocktail Reception
The Fondation celebrates its Marie Bovo exhibition with a VIP affair attended by the artist herself.
2, rue du Ballon, Saint-Louis, France; 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.


Sunday, June 19

Museum Tinguely Breakfast 
To wrap up the week, the Museum Tinguely opens its door to First Choice VIPs, who will have the chance to meet with Michael Landy on this occasion of “Michael Landy: Out of Order,” the British artist’s first retrospective outside his native country.
Paul Sacher-Anlage 1, Basel; 9:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.

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.
Article topics