Art Basel Miami Beach Recap Winners & Losers Edition- December 10th Edition


Art Basel Miami Beach Recap Winners & Losers Edition


The Canvas has been holed up in bed recovering from the whirlwind week of fairs, parties, dinners, and meetings. And while this mega-edition may be coming out a day later than initially expected, we promise that it's worth the wait.

The extra day gave us more time to gather our thoughts, sift through the sales reports, and even work on a juicy exclusive due out in a special edition later this week. 

So without further ado, here's our final edition for this year's Art Basel Miami Beach. Enjoy! 

Art Basel Miami Beach- Five Winners & Five Losers
Mark Bradford: Capping off a year in which he exhibited at the Venice Biennale's U.S. pavilion, Mark Bradford has officially crossed the line into art-world megastar. Hauser & Wirth fêted the artist with a swanky party filled with Hollywood (and actual) royalty last week, and multiple pieces of his sold at the convention center for mid-seven figures. 

Miami's museums: Between the Bass's reopening, the ICA's move to a new space in the Design District, and the Perez Art Museum's continued dominance, Miami museums are officially a part of the cultural firmament. While a lot of credit deservedly goes to the collectors/donors (Jorge Perez, the Bramans, Craig Robins, the Rubells, etc...), praise also goes to the civic leaders, staffs, and PR firms that make the museums the successes they are. 

Galleries & Advisers who sell art in innovative ways: Larry & David will always sell out their booths (or close to sell out anyway) and Lisa can always count on a certain Leo to swoop in and buy a Basquiat drawing for $850K, but galleries and advisers who use non-conventional selling methods to reach and communicate with their clients are finding more and more success. Whether it be by texting pictures of pieces to certain collectors via WhatsApp or producing videos around specific exhibitions and artists, more and more galleries and art advisers are experimenting with different selling techniques in order to reach new and younger collectors or to stay in better touch with existing clients. 

Untitled & NADA: While the proverbial masses may run to Art Miami (who's organizers hand out VIP cards like politicians give out kisses under the mistletoe), art world insiders instead gravitated toward satellite fairs, Untitled and NADA throughout the week. Each fair did an impressive job with their iterations this year, with of-the-moment galleries and artists exhibiting at both. 

The Nautilus Hotel: Jason Pomeranc's trendy hotel was the unofficial (and for that matter actually official) place to see and be seen this year. Whether it was through one of the countless parties the hotel hosted at its beachside tent, or in front  of Suzy Kellems Dominik's neon artwork installed in the hotel lobby, art world insiders could be spotted wherever one looked. 

Small to mid-tier galleries: Everyone's talking about it. Small and mid-tier galleries may not have what it take to continue to exhibit at Art Basel in coming years. Between all the costs associated with participating (figure at least $250,000 at the lower end of the scale), dealers are going to have to seriously consider whether all the costs associated with exhibiting are worth it in the years to come. Time was that's (and Blouin Art+Auction and Blouin Modern Painters) editors and publishers spread throughout the fairs chatting up dealers and holding meetings on the sidelines- not to mention actually reporting on the news of the market. Alas, no more. With most editorial being produced out of India (yes, you read that right), nary a Blouin editor could be spotted at any of this year's fairs. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Bonus- we have an exclusive scoop regarding Louise Blouin coming up in a special edition of The Canvas due out later this week. 

Miami Infrastructure: Between the seemingly ever-present construction zones circling the convention center this year and the spotty cell service plaguing Wynwood during peak party hours, Miami officials need to step up and do a better job of pulling things together for 2018. Art Basel Miami Beach (and all of us who attend) brings in enough money to the local economy. The Canvas doesn't think it's too much to ask for that the convention center not be riddled with cement trucks, orange fencing, and cinderblock barriers. 

Street Art: Whether it's the Scope Miami fair, Miami mainstay Alec Monopoly, or even Banksy himself, collectors are quickly tiring of the (mostly) derivative work produced by a seemingly endless parade of (mostly) millennial men that all seem to (mostly) feature the dollar bill as the focus of the art.

First day sales: As many press reports mentioned, while the fair was still an undoubted success and top pieces all found comfy new homes with quality collectors, the pace of sales was noticeably slower than in years past and galleries didn't necessarily sell out their booths on the first day. Whether it's because collectors are taking more time to carefully consider works before pulling the trigger, or it's a more ominous sign of a looming correction in the market, we'll all just have to hold our breaths and wait to see. 

Salvator Mundi: A $450 Million Dollar Maze of Mirrors
So let's get this straight. In a news-break perfectly timed to coincide with the VIP Preview at Art Basel this year (Wednesday), the New York Time's David Kirkpatrick reported that the buyer for Leonardo da Vinci's work was a little-known prince named Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud

But the next day (Thursday), the Wall Street Journal's Shane Harris, Kelly Crow, and Summer Said reported that the NYT doesn't really have the full story and that Prince Bader was in fact acting as a proxy in the sale for his good friend, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

And then on Friday, the New York Times came back with reporting that the Saudi embassy in Washington was claiming that Price Bader did not act as a proxy for the Crown Prince, but instead acted as an agent for the ministry of culture of Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates and that the Leonardo piece would soon go on display there at the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi

With all the twists and turns in this roller coaster of a story, we may never know who the true purchaser of "Salvator Mundi" was, but a few things are for sure. Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud (or someone representing him) was on the phone with Alex Rotter that night at Christie's. The $450 million dollar artwork is heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi for now (whether as a gift, a loan or as a rental). And Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was clearly the orchestrator and financial backer in the purchase, even if it wasn't for his personal collection but as a gift to the United Arab Emiratesin an effort to build stronger ties between the two countries. 

Further Reading
Alexander Forbes of has a must-read recap and analysis of what sold at this year's iteration of Art Basel Miami Beach. Check out the great reporting here

The superb team at Sotheby's Art Agency Partners has some truly insightful take-aways from this year's fair. Read Charlotte Burns's "Market Report" here, as well as Allan Schwartzman's fun take here.  

For the official "End of Show Report" (i.e press release) produced by Art Basel itself, click here

Gallery Shows to See Before the New Year
Paula Cooper Gallery's "The Passing of Time: Michael Hurson at Work, 1971-2001" (closing December 22nd) 

Gladstone Gallery's "Richard Prince: Ripple Paintings" (closing December 22nd)

Paul Kasmin Gallery's "Lee Krasner: The Umber Paintings, 1959-1962" (closing January 13th)

Danziger Gallery's "The Way of the West: Jim Krantz and Ansel Adams" (closing December 22nd)

Galerie Perrotin's "Farhad Moshiri: Snow Forest" (closing December 23rd)

One Fun Thing
Still looking for that perfect gift for the art-lover in your life? Assouline's "Andy Warhol: The Impossible Collectionmakes for just such a purchase if you have a cool $845 laying around. With accompanying text by former Andy Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner, and over 100 beautifully printed glossy photos of Warhol's works, this ultimate coffee table book is our choice for the number one art gift of the year.