Collectors Abandon Art Basel Miami Beach for NFT Fairs, Kennedy Yanko Gets a New Gallery, and More Juicy Art-World Gossip

Plus, what beloved actor spied an Anna Weyant work at Gagosian's booth? What mega-collector bumped into a Calder work? Read on for answers.

Bill Powers takes a plunge during his show out at Stiltsville in Biscayne Bay. Courtesy Justin Namon/ra-haus Fotografie.

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].


While I was boarding my plane from New York to Miami on Monday, I was chatting with another writer about what the temperature might be like down in Florida, where COVID-restrictions are at their most relaxed. “Will this be the best Art Basel Miami Beach of all time, or the worst?” she asked me. As I sit here, hungover in my hotel room after a long night at Mac’s Club Deuce, I feel confident in my answer: “Yes!” 

Allow me to paint you a picture. Many remarked that the VIP opening of the fair on Tuesday was fairly quiet compared with years past. One might chalk that up to the very real threat of the Omicron-variant of the coronavirus, but that’d be too easy (and anyway, Wet Paint hears that forged vaccine cards were abundant).

But there’s another big reason. Art Basel now has to compete for foot traffic with a totally new Miami crowd: the fabled NFT collectors. As sales to the rear-guard happened the old-fashioned way in the convention center, the droves took to various NFT events around town, which were boldly scheduled for the very same day.

The most notorious NFT artist, Beeple, even remarked that he was physically accosted by fans at one such event, as he explained that he’s not quite sure what to do with his newfound fame. (I’ll go ahead and coin the term Beeplemania. Sorry and you’re welcome.) I remember a simpler time in Miami when the crowd really went wild for a humble banana on a wall… but culture marches ever forward. 

This tension crossed over into the night, where seemingly every party had some kind of crypto-angle to it. A friend of mine reported that she went to an event where every attendee walked away with their very own Derrick Adams NFT. Some goodie bag! Lucky them, as the artist sold an NFT in conjunction with Jay Z, Heir to the Throne (2021), over the summer with Sotheby’s for $139,000

Meanwhile up the beach, there was an Azealia Banks concert where admission requirements were not a vax card—no, no—but a crypto-wallet fat with at least five $FWB (that’s Friends With Benefits, the cryptocurrency created by Lil Miquela’s creator, Trevor McFedries). ABMB was already a playground for the superwealthy. The crypto-wealthy are just taking it one step further.  

Fun was still to be had for the uninitiated, though. 56 Henry’s Ellie Rines hosted a brisk morning jet ski session with her gallery manager, Era Myrtezaj, Los Angeles gallerist Sebastian Gladstone (the former assistant of Jonas Wood), former US diplomat and current CEO of artist rights platform Fairchain, Max Kendrick, and yours truly. Rines deemed it her gallery’s de facto breakfast, and before she even appeared to oversee her booth at NADA the next day, she had pre-sold all but one painting.

Out in the ocean blue, her and Mytezaj shared a jet ski and I overheard the carefree duo discussing potential involvement in a European fair just before jumping over a wave and falling into the pristine Atlantic. Also out in the great ocean was Half Gallery’s show at what’s called Stiltsville, a grouping of cabins out in Biscayne Bay, which housed works by artists like Richard Prince, Mark Grotjahn, and Andrea Joyce Heimer. Dolphins swam up along the boats that toted the guests, including tennis player Rennae Stubbs and artists Chloe Wise and Umar Rashid. Don and Mera Rubell apparently negotiated the purchase of a piece by Emma Stern.

The convention center was still a sight to behold, and sales were happening on high levels, many of them to celebrities who made their way down for the fair. Leo DiCaprio was spotted eyeing a painting at Gagosian’s booth by Anna Weyant, the gallerist’s girlfriend, while, not far, Steve Wynn was spotted knocking into a Calder not once, but a few times. Steve! Be careful!

Venus Over Manhattan’s booth attracted rap royalty (A$AP Ferg and Offset) while actor and collector Jesse Williams posed with artist Ferrari Sheppard in front of a Philip Guston piece at Hauser & Wirth‘s booth. Venus Williams purchased a piece by the furniture designer Rogan Gregory, and Joshua Kushner was spotted outside the fair (alas, sans wife Karlie Kloss), as pop star Olivia Rodrigo popped by with her friend, Iris Apatow

And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what went on at night—but you’ll have to read on to see about that. 



Kennedy Yanko, 2021. Photograph by Noemad.

Kennedy Yanko, 2021. Photograph by Noemad.

Brooklyn-based painter and sculptor Kennedy Yanko has had lots of eyes on her for a while now. She’s the Rubell Museum‘s artist in residence; she created a concept vehicle alongside rapper Nas, who calls her his favorite artist; and now, Wet Paint can exclusively reveal that she is represented by New York’s Salon 94.

Yanko’s large-scale, abstract sculptures often incorporate found materials the artist collects while scouring scrap yards. The result is a little John Chamberlain-esque, with a bit more rhythm to their composition. She’s a process-focused artist, who told Vogue recently that when she walks through museums, she’s more interested in trying to figure out how a piece got made, rather than absorbing the final product.

The gallery didn’t reply to a request for comment, but pretty much anyone who ventured into the convention center this week could have inferred that they represent Yanko. Just as Matthew Marks quietly announced his representation of Simone Leigh earlier this week by bringing her work to Miami, Salon 94 hosted one of Yanko’s industrial, painterly sculptures at its booth as a kind of soft-announcement of their representation.



White Cube‘s annual fete at the Soho House Beach Club is one of Miami’s most anticipated parties. It kicks off the week, and it’s been known to get rowdy, with partygoers often jumping into the ocean (I didn’t see that personally this year, but if you tell me it happened, I’d believe you.)

But enough chatter. You want to see what it looked like, right? Behold:

SPRING/BREAK founders Ambre and Andrew Gore hang out by the water.

Diplo makes his exit around 2 a.m.

The star of art-world slasher flick Candyman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Foodgod, formerly known as Jonathan Cheban, the notorious bestie of the Kardashian family.

Lucien Smith waits to get inside the party. Celebrity artists—they’re just like us!

There was a black market for wrist bands for those not formally invited to the party.

Michèle Lamy and someone whose name I didn’t get, but whose jacket I very much admired.

The next day, David Shrigley and Ruinart hosted a joint party at the botanical gardens across the street, complete with a pit filled with grapes that attendees could stomp through (the wry artist later told me that this wasn’t even his idea, but that he’s going with it).

Guests got amuse-bouche made by the former boy wonder chef Flynn McGarry, who currently runs one of New York’s hottest restaurants, Gem.

Hari Nef mean mugs in front of a Shrigley piece.

Jemima Kirke waits for a scallop served in a seashell by McGarry.

And here he is, creating them!


*** Chris Johanson strolling through Dimes Square to stop by Entrance Gallery *** Lorde dining al fresco at Fanelli Cafe *** Marina Abramović at the Dry Cleaning concert inside the Rainbow Room *** Ross Bleckner, Julianne Moore, and celebrity chef Gabrielle Hamilton toasting star architect Brian Sawyer‘s birthday at art-world fave Indochine *** Matt CopsonAdam Alessi, and the Neighborhood frontman Jesse Rutherford toasting Clearing‘s new group show at the opening’s after party in Bushwick *** Beloved bar of Cousin GregRay’s, hosting a pop-up in Miami, almost entirely recreating their bar on the Lower East Side *** Moses Sumney, Nash Glynn, Ebony Haynes, and Jacolby Satterwhite at the dinner for Fairchain at the Standard Spa ***

Ray’s in Miami, but one could be fooled into thinking I took this photo in New York.


Loic Gouzer has been informally advising Beeple, who is apparently considering buying a Peter Saul painting after the duo were both on a panel at the Bass moderated by Adam Lindemann … Artsy‘s director of content, Matt Domino, is departing for the food world to join Bon Appétit … One of the buyers of Maurizio Cattelan‘s famed banana from ABMB back in 2019 is a resident of South Beach … The NFT week of a few weeks ago in New York was not only a COVID-19 super-spreader event, but also for something called “hoof and mouth disease“—go get tested, you animals … Marion Maneker is the new editorial director of LiveArt, which has merged with Art Market Monitor … James Elbaor and Kimberly Trautmann donated Chris Huen Sin Kan‘s Doodood and Joel (2020) to the ICA Miami 

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