The Art Basel effect: How the fair has impacted Miami’s economy

Art Basel is now in full swing! And its impact on Miami and our economy is undeniable. Just one more reason why this is one of our favorite weeks of the year.

From Monday’s Miami Herald.

The Art Basel effect: How the fair has impacted Miami’s economy


Throughout the 1990s, the post-Thanksgiving stretch was a sleepy time for tourism in South Florida. Enter Art Basel Miami Beach, which brought the country’s largest contemporary arts fair to the first week of December.

“I use the term ‘Basel effect’ quite often,’’ said Rolando Aedo, senior vice president of marketing at the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. “From a business perspective, the numbers are outstanding.”

Compared to results seen in 2002, the year of Art Basel’s debut, revenue from the average Miami-Dade hotel room grew 51 percent for the first 11 months of 2010, according to Smith Travel Research. For December, that increase surged to 79 percent.

For hotels in Miami Beach, the change is even more dramatic. During the first week of December, the average Beach hotel room rented for 141 percent more in 2010 than it did during the same time stretch in 2002, according to an analysis by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Countless levels of hype, hyperbole and cultured fawning surround the 10th anniversary of the Basel fair. A look at the numbers can ground some of that puffery, but they mostly illustrate nine years worth of expansion for the fair itself and the circuit of events that now largely define what’s known as “Art Basel.”


• Art Basel Miami Beach enjoys the world’s largest satellite “scene” — that is, the roster of art shows that have popped up during the same week as the main event. In true Miami style, the Basel satellite roster roared during the boom years, peaking at 25 in 2008. Art Miami, once the leading art fair in the area, found it couldn’t compete and moved from January to Basel week and now reports strong sales.

The recession thinned out the satellite ranks, but 16 are scheduled for this year — more than orbit any of the other major art fairs around the world.

“It just kept growing. It became a global cultural happening,’’ said Craig Robins, the main developer behind Miami’s Design District and majority owner of Design Miami, the lone satellite fair partly owned by Art Basel’s parent company.

Robins argues the satellite shows aren’t as important as the circuit of parties, museum exhibitions, gallery installations and private events that attract VIPs from around the world. NetJets, a Basel sponsor that sells private-jet usage, expects about 150 flights in and out of the Miami area this weekend — more than double the 70 flights Net Jets sold in 2002.

No official numbers track the Basel social scene. But Max Sklar, Miami Beach’s tourism director, said the Basel week has shaken off its recessionary slump and regained its status as the busiest stretch in the city for high-end catered events.

“Nothing compares to this,’’ Sklar said.

• The main show is far larger than it was in the beginning, despite a battering by the global financial crisis. Roughly 260 galleries are anticipated this year at Basel’s home in the Miami Beach Convention Center. That’s a 62 percent increase from the fair’s arrival in 2002.

Expansion hasn’t made the Basel show a broader platform for local galleries, which are mostly left to exhibit at satellite fairs or draw collectors into their storefronts . While four galleries from Miami got invitations to exhibit at Basel Miami Beach in 2002, only three made the cut this year out of about 10 that applied, said selection committee member Fredric Snitzer.

“If you do the math, of all the galleries in the world, that’s pretty good,’’ said Snitzer, whose Miami gallery automatically gets a Basel invitation for being part of the selection process.

The fair started in the midst of economic turmoil, and the roller coaster ride continued. Basel originally was set to arrive in December 2001, but the terrorist attacks of that year prompted organizers to wait a year.

As real estate boomed and stock-market wealth flourished, art sales did, too: the Mei-Moses index of contemporary art saw a 188 percent increase from 2002 to 2007, compared to 97 percent for Miami real estate on the Case-Shiller index.

“It’s done very well because there was a lot of new wealth created,’’ said Mike Moses, a co-founder of the index and its home on arta “It seems that new wealth tends to go to new art lately.”

But as the financial crisis erupted, Basel felt the hit, too. Galleries pulled out, art prices plunged, corporations slashed lavish entertainment budgets. A growing backlash against banks touched the fair in 2009 as top sponsor UBS, a bailed-out Swiss bank, agreed to a $780 million settlement on tax evasion charges that included tales of bankers using the Miami Beach fair to recruit clients.

UBS has since shut down the division at the center of the investigation, and a spokeswoman last week said the case is settled……

Read the full Miami Herald Article here:

Brazilians courted during Art Basel Miami Beach

Not only is Brazilian art hot, but everyone from real estate agents to art galleries will be wooing Brazilians during Art Basel Miami Beach, reports The Miami Herald. “The Brazilians will be here in droves,’’ said Alan Kluger, a prominent collector of Latin American art and senior partner with Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L. in Miami.

Paulo Bacchi carefully adjusted one of the white leather dining chairs in a two-story Biscayne Boulevard penthouse, making sure the 63rd-floor unit with the glass walls and expansive coastal views will show to the best possible advantage.

It’s one of seven model apartments in four buildings from downtown Miami to Sunny Isles Beach that Bacchi, the owner and general manager of Brazilian furniture manufacturer Artefacto, has been readying to coincide with the opening of Art Basel Miami Beach on Thursday.

Call it his Brazilian Basel strategy.

With Brazilians’ penchant for buying luxury condos, their free-spending ways during South Florida vacations and their growing interest in collecting art, they will be courted by developers, real estate agents, art gallerists and interior designers at events leading up to and during the top art show in the Americas.

“The Brazilians will be here in droves,’’ said Alan Kluger, an Aventura attorney and Latin American art collector. “I know one who is coming on his own Gulfstream and bringing 20 of his friends.’’

Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner of Cervera Real Estate, has been using Art Basel as a hook for Brazilians contemplating second-home purchases in South Florida. “We’re telling them if you’re thinking about coming to visit, this would be a great time to do it. We’ve been explaining just how exciting Art Basel is and how it shows a side of Miami that they might not know.’’

Brazilians account for 12 percent of the international home buyers in Miami-Dade County, second only to Venezuelans, but they tend to occupy the luxury niche and spend more than any other group of international visitors.

To capture that market, Bacchi pushed hard to finish the work on models at Marquis Residences, Paramount Bay, Trump Sunny Isles and Ocean House, a luxury project on the sand in Miami Beach. Brazilian second-home buyers account for about 40 percent of sales at Artefacto’s two Miami-Dade showrooms, one in the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables and the other in Aventura.

“From our point of view, the season starts with Art Basel,’’ Bacchi said as he showed off a completed model at Marquis Residences, which featured cowhide rugs, a media room, white leather sofas and an antique movie reel from England used as a sculpture.

Art collectors from around the world also will getto meet Brazilian artists and galleries during Art Basel week. Sixteen Brazilian art galleries will have a presence at the show — five more than last year — and some European and U.S. galleries will exhibit the work of Brazilian artists too.

Kluger will be taking delivery of three pieces at Art Basel. Work by Brazilian metal sculptor Amilcar de Castro and Rio artist Artur Barrio are among his pre-purchases.

In the last few years, Brazilian art has come into its own in the collecting world.

Brazilian work inspired some of the most spirited bidding at Christie’s Latin American art auction this month in New York, and new auction records were established for 10 Brazilian artists. Alfredo Volpi’s Bandeirinhas estructuradas led the way; the painting sold for $842,500, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.

In the 1980s, when the Japanese were the world’s financial powerhouse, they bought Impressionist art; emerging Chinese collectors favor established masters, said Kluger. “You know what Brazilians buy? Brazilian art,’’ he said. “They love their culture. Now you have a robust Brazilian economy, they have the capital to buy and they know what they like.’’

Gallery owner Gary Nader also has climbed on the Brazilian bandwagon. “I’ve probably been to Brazil six times this year,’’ buying art and interviewing artists, he said.

So far this year, he said, more than 400 Brazilians — double last year’s numbers — have visited Gary Nader Art Centre in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District.

Four pieces by Brazilian artists are among the 111 lots at Nader’s first Latin American Modern & Contemporary Art Auction, slated for Thursday at 5 p.m. They include an untitled sculpture by Ernesto Neto made from beads stuffed inside tulle; Vik Muniz’s Almond Blossoms — an image formed by thousands of punched paper discs; Debate series, a portrait fashioned from braided plastic by Jarbas Lopes, and Walter Goldfarb’s mixed media A Passion at The Opera House I.

“Why I’m going into the auction business in South Florida has a lot to do with the Brazilians,’’ Nader said. “We have to put some art in all those apartments they’re buying. They’ve become major patrons of the arts because now they can afford it.’’

Increasingly, he said, they don’t take their purchases home. Brazil has an import tax on art of nearly 40 percent, Nader said. “They come to Miami or New York, buy their condos and just put the art on the walls. That’s fantastic for us, but we’d like to see a more open art importation policy in Brazil.’’

Because significant private collections often end up in a country’s museums, “if they don’t create a policy where people can collect, a country loses,’’ he said.

Nader also plans a March event, “Brazilians are Coming!’’ at his gallery that will feature the 10 most important living Brazilian artists and the 10 most important deceased artists. The date hasn’t been set, but he plans to time the show to coincide with Brazil’s celebration of carnival. He calls Rio’s samba parade, which features thousands of people in feathered costumes and exotic headpieces, “the greatest performance art in the world.’’

And in March 2013, he’ll be taking 25 to 30 monumental sculptures to Sao Paulo’s MuBE, the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture.

Bacchi won’t only be trying to further his own business during Art Basel. He’s also an art collector and will be on the hunt for Latin American art — “especially Brazilian but also Venezuelan, Colombian and a bit of Cuban.” Work by two of his favorite Brazilian artists — Tunga and Muniz — are among the Basel offerings.

He’ll be courting Brazilian customers, of course, but he said Venezuelan, Argentine, French, Italian, and Russian buyers outfitting new real estate purchases also have been good clients.

When Arefacto prepares a model apartment, it generally gets 50 percent upfront from the developer and the other half when the unit sells — usually with all the furniture and accessories included. “If you’re a second-home buyer, you don’t have your interior design team in town. So you just write a check and you have instant gratification,’’ said Bacchi.

Read more here:

Alimony Bill Would Let Rich Dudes Who Cheat on Their Wives Off Easier

Interesting article from the Miami New Times today, regarding a new legislation to change Florida’s Alimony laws.  Read the full story here.

Ritch Workman, the Republican state representative from Melbourne who has already introduced a bill to legalize dwarf tossing, is back with another stunningly stupid and controversial bill. Just eight days after Workman finalized his own divorce, he introduced a new piece of legislation that would radically rewrite the state’s alimony laws and would effectively let wealthy men who cheat on their wives off the financial hook.

Read the full story here.


Former Canes Football Player Sues Bank for Alleged Racial Profiling

Zuleyka Bremer and her fiancee Sheven Marshall said they were arrested and humiliated for all to see inside a Regions Bank.

By Willard Shepard on Monday, November 14, 2011.

A former Miami Hurricanes football player and his fiancee sued Regions Bank and two police officers, claiming they were arrested and embarrassed inside a South Florida branch because of racial profiling.
Zuleyka Bremer and Sheven Marshall, who used to play with the Canes, said they were arrested and humiliated for all to see inside a Regions Bank in southwest Miami-Dade County while trying to open an account with an $8,000 check from Marshall’s tax refund.
Marshall, who started games at middle linebacker for the Canes during his playing days, told NBC Miami, he believes the bank’s actions and the arrest were racially motivated.
“Maybe I’m African-American, I’m not allowed to have that large amount of check and I believe it has something to do with racial profiling,” said Marshall.
The couple filed the lawsuit in Miami on Nov. 3.
Read the full story and see the story from NBC Miami here.


The Situation Suing the Pants Off Abercrombie & Fitch

Oh no! The Situation is suing Abercrombie & Fitch. Read the full story here.


It’s the Sitch vs. the Fitch.

Making good on his threats, Jersey Shore resident Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is slapping a big-bucks lawsuit on Abercrombie & Fitch.

Here’s the, um, situation.

Read the full complaint here.

Per court documents in federal court in Florida on Tuesday and obtained by E! News, the reality star alleges that by emblazoning T-shirts with such slogans as “GTL…You Know the Deal” and “The Fitchuation,” the clothing giant violated his trademarks on “The Situation” and “GTL,” aka his regimen of gym, tan and laundry.

Abercrombie did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Sorrentino got ticked off back in September during a publicity stunt gone wrong. Abercrombie fired off a press release proposing an unendorsement deal—i.e., the company offered to pay him a substantial amount of dough to not wear its clothes in public and prevent “significant damage” to the brand.

The Sitch’s camp called the scheme a “marketing ploy,” insisting a legit monetary offer was never made, and in fact, was simply done to draw attention to Abercrombie’s fashion line.

“[Abercrombie] embarked on a grand, worldwide advertising campaign using Sorrentino’s name, image and likeness to create brand awareness for its products by falsely claiming that [the company] had offered money to Sorrentino if he would stop wearing Defendant’s goods,” states the complaint.

Court papers also allege that Abercrombie sold T-shirts on its website bearing Sorrentino’s aforementioned slogans, including “‘The Fitchuation’ and ‘GTL…you know the deal.’ ”

“As a result of [Abercrombie’s] publicity campaign, [the retailer] profited off of the use of a false affiliation with Sorrentino and it has wrongly used Sorrentino’s name, image and likeness for advertising purposes in violation of applicable law,” states the suit.

The MTV personality, who wants a jury trial, is seeking a $1million royalty and $3 million in damages.