The Art of Basel

Miami is undeniably the biggest deal in the country during the first week of December. Art Basel Miami Beach put the city on the international art map nine years ago; since then, artists, collectors, tourists, celebrities, revelers, international luminaries, and everybody in between make the annual pilgrimage to devour all the satellite fairs, pop-ups, exhibitions, galleries, lectures, lounges, and events they can seize in the three- to five-day span.

But you better be ready for it.

Miami’s glittery social scene gets more sparkles (read: bubbly), the fêtes are bigger and better, and just about every venue in town wants to indulge the Basel patrons. Not to mention, the majority of the exhibitions takes place steps from the gorgeous beach and in the middle of the already vibrant Art Deco district.

ABMB hosts 250 art galleries from five continents and exhibits 20th and 21st century artworks by more than 2,000 artists. Thus without a proper guide, one is sure to get lost in the sea of mediocre exhibitions and too-mainstream crowds. ABMB is for the light-footed (you better make sure those heels are made for walking), the sagacious art aficionados as well as anyone who values great culture and creative work—and of course, those who can appreciate art with a hangover or two.

To make sure you cover all the important bases, we broke down Basel week into Miami’s different districts, so that you spend each day devoted to a different sector. Like art, our VIP guide to ABMB 2010 is subjective, but Haute Living’s eye is the most discerning, subjectively speaking, of course.


Art Basel Miami Beach doesn’t officially open to the public for another two days, but invitation-only and VIP privileges assure you first looks minus the shoulder-to-shoulder crowdedness and in more sophisticated, intimate settings.

Design Miami From 3 to 6 p.m., the serious collectors have first access to the Design Miami Collector’s Preview, which is for the first time housed just blocks from the main fair in the Convention Center. The Vernissage follows but is also for VIP members or by invitation only.

Art Miami, Miami’s longest running contemporary art fair, kicks off ABMB with the Opening Night VIP Preview, which will benefit the Lotus House Women’s Shelter. An estimated attendance for the VIP opening is 6,500 to 7,000 guests. It’s the exclusive first opportunity for VIP collectors to acquire some of the finest works in contemporary and modern art. As the official hotel sponsor of Art Miami, Mandarin Oriental, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, will host a smaller VIP preview/cocktail reception in the hotel’s atrium lobby the night prior at 7 p.m.

Gary Nader Fine Art, the largest fine art gallery in the world is hosting an exclusive dinner party by invitation only for the unveiling of Fernando Botero: The Grand Show, which will display more than 100 works by the most important living artist. The evening will be sponsored in part by Haute Living.

MOCA/Vanity Fair International Party (770 NE 125th St.) is for MOCA members only; this fabulous kick-off party is also the opening of German artist Jonathan Meese: Sculpture and American photographer Bruce Webber: Haiti/Little Haiti.