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.

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