Switzerland's Art Basel ready to adopt South Beach after one-year delay
By Frank Norton
With just three months to go, Art Basel Miami Beach is expected to draw 160 galleries, more than 2,000 collectors and about 15,000 other visitors to South Beach, event planners say.
The fair, billed as sister to Switzerland's famous Art Basel, is considered by some to be the highest profile art show in the world. Local officials expect it to rival in impact the annual South Florida Boat show, which attracts about 20,000 visitors.
"I've seen it twice in Basel, Switzerland. The entire town is transformed into an art show. It brings in the wealthiest art collectors in the world and many of the pieces sell at prices well into the millions," said Miami Beach Commissioner Jose Smith. He said each major gallery will spend $50,000 to $60,000 in exhibit set-up costs alone.
Mr. Smith said the event comes with no negative impact on the community. "Most people will be staying within a walking distance" of the Miami Beach Convention Center, where the bulk of exhibitions are held.
Art Basel canceled last year's local show due to 9/11 complications. It debuts instead Dec. 5-8 in the convention center and other South Beach venues.
Young galleries that are unable to afford presentations in the convention center will instead show works in mobile exhibit rooms fashioned out of shipping containers, event planners said. Young architects Steinmann & Schmid, in cooperation with Art Basel Miami Beach, converted the containers.
According to Bob Goodman, president of Garber & Goodman, and Florida representative for Art Basel, the total worth of the art pieces will rise well into the tens of millions.
In terms of production costs, he said Art Basel will pay the convention center rent, advertising, promotions and travel security while galleries cover sublease costs, shipping and handling and set-up.
Total cost and revenue projections are not yet available.
Of the 160 galleries picked to present, 45% will come from the US and Canada, 45% from Europe and 10% from Latin America, Asia and South Africa. Latin American galleries represented include four from Mexico, four from Brazil and one from Argentina and Costa Rica.
Most galleries admitted to last year's canceled event are participating this year. About 95% accepted the delay, leaving only 14 spaces open.
All works - including paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, photography and other media - are for sale. Prices will range from a few hundred dollars to several million, organizers said.
Major Art Basel Miami Beach sponsors include UBS Financial Services Group, which has backed the show in Switzerland since 1984, and Basel-based global logistics group Danzas, also responsible for transporting the show's construction material.
Event hours are noon-7 p.m. daily. Cost is $15, $10 for students, children and seniors. Evening events at 5 cost $5.
The 33-year-old Art Basel Switzerland, which attracts about 50,000 people each June, was introduced to Miami Beach last year by former event director Lorenzo Rudolph. The new director is Samuel Keller, also based in Switzerland.