Art And Culture

Basel Fair Features $3.4b Worth of Art

Basel Fair Features $3.4b Worth of Art Basel Fair Features $3.4b Worth of Art

As opening day sales at Art Basel soar, the art market bubble is getting fatter.

This year’s fair boasts $3.4 billion worth of art for sale in the Swiss city of Basel, Business Insider reported.

Multimillion dollar works sold like hot cakes in the fair’s first few hours. “I haven’t had such a good day one at Basel in 10 years,” New York dealer David Nolan told the Artnet website in his crowded booth. The first half-hour was especially frenzied, he said.

New York’s Van de Weghe Gallery sold a $5.5 million Christopher Wool canvas in the first hour. Skarstedt Gallery reported selling a $5.5 million Keith Haring.

“It’s as if they were giving stuff away,” said New York collector Ralph de Luca.

“I’ve never seen such a tsunami,” said Sarah Watson, a director with Sprüth Magers. And that’s at a fair known for its nearly 300 exhibitors.

Top global collectors, Peter Brant and Ulli Sigg were seen on the aisles, along with curators like the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Sheena Wagstaff and auction house specialists such as Christie’s Brett Gorvy and Alexander Rotter.

Celebrity collector Leonardo DiCaprio was on the hunt, checking out a Giacometti bronze bust at Gagosian, Picasso canvases at Nahmad Gallery, and Jasper Johns at Matthew Marks.

Rumor has it DiCaprio is looking for works for a July auction in St. Tropez to benefit his environmental preservation foundation. He eyed works by George Condo, Takashi Murakami and Pablo Picasso.

At Nahmad, several Picasso canvases dating from between the 1930s and the 1970s were priced at between $7.5 million and $16 million. One is a version of Les Femmes d’Alger (the original Picasso sold for $140 Million at Christie’s auction earlier).

Picasso is a huge driver of the modern market.

Other historical material also sold well, with Blum and Poe notching its highest sale of day one with a Lee Ufan at $900,000, sold to an American collector. Jeff Poe pointed out a strong presence of the Korean Tansaekhwa School at the fair, along with Mono-Ha; Lee Ufan is a major figure in both.