Art Basel Defies Economy For At Least One Day

Based on the VIP preview yesterday and the early round of sales today, it looks like Art Basel is not, repeat not, going to tank thanks to the craphole global economy. The Art Newspaper reports that spirits are high, big-name buyers such as Steve Schwarzman, Wilbur Ross, and Eli Broad are all on hand and ready to buy, and the art is the best it's been all year. "I'm not saying the bull market is back," says Sandy Heller, the art adviser who caters to art-collecting tycoons like hedge funder Steve Cohen. "But I'm saying the art market needed a good fair and this is it." Heck, Brad Pitt dropped a mil on a Neo Rauch painting yesterday.

To balance out the hard sell, ArtInfo has a slightly more staid take on the Basel happenings, quoting a dealer as saying that "it seems like everybody's brought interesting things. But it doesn't have that sense of urgency."

One day and a celebrity purchase may not be enough evidence to judge the health of the fair. But if you focus on thinking happy thoughts (assuming a healthy art market is a happy thought) between now and this weekend when the fair ends, you just may be rewarded. What's that? Pharrell Williams just ponied up $2.8 million for a Murakami? That wasn't so hard, now was it?

Preview sales defy all expectations [The Art Newspaper]
To Bling or Not to Bling? [ArtInfo]