Art Basel Miami Beach once again descended upon the South Florida city this week, and while it's no de facto for guests to grumble that this year wasn't quite as glitzy or exciting as it had been in the past, in reality both the art fairs and the numerous parties and dinners that make up a circuit affectionately known to some as the open bar Olympics, were as action packed as ever. Hollywood royalty like Leonardo DiCaprio, music royalty like Kanye West, fashion royalty like Michèle Lamy, and actual royalty, as in Princess Eugenie, were all on hand for the week. Here, a recap of everything you may have missed.
Princess Eugenie was there, but kept a low profile.
Princess Eugenie may be one of the most famous newlyweds in the world, but that isn't keeping her away from her career. You'll recall that she has a job at the megagallery Hauser & Wirth, which had a booth at the Miami Convention Center (handsomely remodeled this year, in fact). Not even royal status and a new wedding ring excuses anyone in the art world from skipping their Basel duties during this week. Eugenie was spotted both at the main fair, and a few parties around town with husband Jack Brooksbank in tow, but was said to have avoided the cameras. See, some people really do come to Art Basel for the art.
Leonardo DiCaprio's boney obsession and karaoke night.
As per usual, Leonardo DiCaprio was on the prowl at Basel this year, but, make no mistake, he's reportedly still very happy with model girlfriend Cami Morrone. His pursuit this year was in the name of bones. Dinosaur bones, to be exact. According to Page Six, he was spotted eyeing $2.5 million worth of dinosaur bones at the “DeXtinction" exhibit at Art Miami. Apparently, DiCaprio already has at least one set of dinosaur bones in his possession. No word on if he ended up adding any more.
On Wednesday night, DiCaprio was also spotted amongst the numerous bold faced names that descended on Casa Tua, a private club, for a night of karaoke (the event was so exclusive, that unauthorized photography was banned). Though, Venus Williams, Bono, and Paris Hilton were also on hand, as was socialite Caroline Vreeland, who reportedly delighted the crowd with her rendition of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab."
Kanye West shows up at Prada's private club in sweatpants.
Prada took over chic hotel The Freehand and its famed cocktail bar Broken Shaker and rechristened them as the Prada Mode private club for three days out of the week. The programming was a bit more laid back than Prada's rave-inspired programming last year, but no less exclusive. Chlo´ë Sevigny, Sasha Lane (who had her brother Sergio Darcy Lane in tow with her throughout much of the week), Venus Williams and Emma Roberts all stopped by through the week. Though it was Kanye West who garnered the most attention when he showed up for a Derek Blasberg co-hosted dinner in honor of artist Theaster Gates in sweatpants (apparently his Basel uniform of choice this year). A day later, West would make a surprise appearance at a venue in Wynwood during an event commemorating the late and controversial South Florida rapper XXXTentacion. Yes, he was still wearing the sweatpants.
Shepard Fairey wishes art was a bit more political.
Basel week may be a bubble, but the dark cloud of Donald Trump has managed to change the climate even here over the past two years. Had the recent shifts of the midterms parted some of the clouds? Shepard Fairey wasn't so sure it was necessarily an excuse to take your mind off politics, even temporarily. "I wish more artists were engaged and unafraid to deal with social and political topics," he told us. "I'm glad that some are. There's some that I'm very inspired by. Art is such a powerful medium for expression and communication, and I think it's underutilized to say something." Though he added that he felt the mood this year was upbeat. Fairey was on hand to celebrate his collaboration with Hublot on an edition of the watch brand's Big Bang MECA-10, and participated in panel talk with Tristan Eaton, Martha Cooper, and Juxtapoz editor Eevan Pricco over dinner at a ritzy Palm Island mansion most recently owned by rap mogul Birdman. The Swiss watchmaker was particularly busy throughout the week, presenting an intimate concert on South Beach featuring its latest ambassador, Reggaeton artist Nicky Jam (even if you're not familiar with the name, the squeaky riff of his recent hit "X" with J. Balvin is probably lodged somewhere in the back of your brain).
Actual art sales? Oh, they remained fine.
Unlike, say the stock market, the financial portrait of sales success at Art Basel Miami Beach and the numerous satellite fairs is not necessarily a public matter, but despite a week of plunges and general instability for the actual stock market, art sales seemed to be, well, fine, all things considered. Despite complaints about the wavering quality of celebrity VIPs seated at various dinners throughout the evening, the quality of the true VVIPs of the week, the megacollectors in town to add to their collections, remained consistent. Even Bill Gates, not a regular attendee, was spotted about. According to ArtNews, gallerists at the main fair were quite happy if not pleasantly surprised with their opening day wheelings and dealings, and offerings at the fair were headlined by a $50 million Mark Rothko at Helly Nahmad, a $16.5 million Jean-Michel Basquiat at Van de Weghe, and numerous multimillion Keith Haring pieces at Lévy Gorvy. Grumbling about the future of Basel is a favorite topic of party small talk, but just as long as the cash continues flowing at the fairs, the week's survival isn't truly in question.
Cardi B finds time to perform in between her split announcement and court date.
The art and fashion crowd works hard, but Miami's homegrown party promoters work harder. Some of the most talked about musical performances of the week happened not at your typical sponsored parties thrown around a South Beach hotel pool, but rather across the bridge at 24-hour downtown night club E11even, which counts topless dancers amongst its many hedonistic offerings. Lil Pump, G-Eazy, Young Thing, and Travis Scott all performed throughout the week, but the highlight was Cardi B, who found time to perform on Wednesday in between announcing her split from Offset and her court date back in New York on Friday. The catch? It was just a regular night of business at the club. Covers were charged and unlike just about every other major party in town drinks were, *gasp*, not free.
And now, a fever dream of assorted party gossip and odds and ends.
Even the most committed and organized Baselista will find it impossible to hit up even half of what they had planned for the week, and, as a result, much of your time may end up being spent hearing about what it is you missed. Here, a simulation, if you will, of hearing about everything else that happened during the week: Tessa Thompson wearing an outfit she joked to Vanity Fair looked like a Loofah, hosted a Bombay Saphire event at Casa Casuarina, the Ocean Drive venue colloquially known as the Versace Mansion (and, yes, despite the fact that the Versace family hasn't owned it in quite some time, there still were jokes to be made about how it now might be known as the Michael Kors Mansion). Laura Harrier, Teyana Taylor, Devon Windsor, and Sasha Lane were also on hand. Luka Sabbat and creative partner Noah Dillon celebrated their new collaborative project Hot Mess by attempting to sell 300 framed $100 bills; Sevigny and Virgil Abloh were on hand to support. Rapper Mykki Blanco performed at the Diesel x Boiler Room event on the mainland on Thursday night to a crowd that included Taylor, Jadakiss, Yo Gotti and Trey Songz. Lil Wayne made a surprise performance on Thursday night for the YoungArts party at The Confidante Miami Beach x The Surf Lodge popup. On Tuesday, Bvlgari feted its collaboration with Raúl de Nieves with a dinner that featured a performance by Jess Glynne. Ally Hilfiger and Fabian Basabe were amongst the guests at a Surface magazine party held at the Shore Club on Friday night. Michèle Lamy stopped by the Standard for an intimate dinner celebrating Telfar Clemens on Monday night. Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez were spotted at the main fair before returning to A-Rod's Miami home to decorate the Christmas tree. Finally, on any given night at around 3:00 am at Twist, South Beach's long lasting dive-y gay club, any number of New Yorkers could be seen chatting about how they just weren't seeing quite as many other New Yorkers in the stripper hut as they had in years previous.