Holiday Inspiration

Art Basel Miami

By Susan Ward Davies

WHAT IS IT? Possibly the flashiest event in the art world calendar, and the USA’s biggest cultural show, ABM is as much about the celebrities and the parties as it is about the art.Now in its 11th year, there are more than 2000 artists from the 20th and 21st centuries on show, and around 260 international galleries taking part. No ordinary art fair, it’s a gathering of the wealthiest and showiest galleries, brands and people in the Americas.

HOW DO YOU GET IN? Access is actually pretty easy, the art shows are open to all, but they're not cheap: $42 for a day pass at the main Art Basel Miami. Of the 22 plus other official fairs taking part, some are free like NADA newartdealers.org, and there is some brilliant art on offer in all the hotels converted into pop- up galleries/party venues, and on the streets, especially around the Wynwood Art District.

BUSINESS OR PLEASURE? Both: if you're a dealer, it's a great place to invest and mingle with like-minded people with similarly large bank accounts. But alot of celebrities are flown in especially for the parties, some with a personal art buyer in tow to do all the leg-work, while they check out the action by night and nurse a hangover by day.

WHO GOES? From the art world, plenty of big players from the likes of Larry Gagosian and Wendi Murdoch to Jay Jopling and Damien Hirst. On the celebrity circuit, Demi Moore and boyfriend Vito Schabel, Lenny Kravitz, Georgia-May Jagger, Donna Karen, P Diddy, Stephen Dorff , Stacey Kleiber, Pharrell Williams, Kanye and Kim, Bruce Weber... we could go on.

WHERE TO SPOT THEM South Beach is one big beautiful party. Every gallery will be hosting a private dinner party of sorts that inevitably ends up back at someone’s penthouse till the small hours. There isn’t an event space or hotel not hosting something, and the best thing to do is find a good seat at the Shore Club or Delano lobbies, and just watch the people flooding in and out.

PARTY TIME Ah, the parties…if you’re not on the list, then you need to be good at turning on the charm. If you pitch up and look the part, you might be able to blag your way in. Even if you can’t, pretty much every major brand throwing a party has a pap-worthy red carpet to gawk at.

BEST PEOPLE- WATCHING Not everywhere is invitation only, so hang around in these hotels and see who turns up: Soho Beach House, sohobeachhouse.com, W Hotel, wsouthbeach.com. Delano, delano-hotel.com; The Raleigh, raleighhotel.com, Shelborne, shelborne.com, and The Shore Club, shoreclub.com.

BEST PARTIES

Well, so far we've had the Chanel barbecue at Soho Beach house, sohobeachhouse.com, Valentino and Interview magazine's exclusive bash at The Webster, thewebstermiami.com, The Standard Hotel's pool party, standardhotels.com, and anything at Amy Sacco’s (Bungalow 8) pop- up, 8 Miami, at The Gale, South Beach, galehotel.com. Other cool pop-ups are Le Baron, whereislebaron.com (location posted every night at 6pm), and Westway at the Shore Club, westwaynyc.com. How anyone gets any real business done is beyond us.

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