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Art Basel Miami Beach: Ninth Edition Bigger, Better Than Ever

The ninth edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, held Dec. 2–5 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, was a resounding success, with many dealers calling it one of the best yet and organizers reporting attendance of 46,000—up from 42,000 last year and 40,000 in 2008.

NEW YORK—The ninth edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, held Dec. 2–5 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, was a resounding success, with many dealers calling it one of the best yet and organizers reporting attendance of 46,000—up from 42,000 last year and 40,000 in 2008.

More than 250 galleries from North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa participated. Exhibitors said sales were robust, as demand for modern and contemporary art continues to soar despite broader economic concerns.

“It’s the best fair I’ve had since I’ve been going to Miami,” said Pierre Levai, director of Marlborough Gallery. “We sold about 30 paintings and sculptures, works by Manolo Valdés, Botero, Richard Estes, Rashaad Newsome and others.”

Silke Thomas, co-owner of Galerie Thomas, Munich, told ARTnewsletter that the layout of the recent fair, which changes every year, was “very advantageous. It was easier to find your way and there was more space to move about.”

Thomas said that in contrast to the past two years, where the gallery saw more demand for modern masterworks, tastes this year leaned more toward contemporary pieces. As a result, price tags were in the “hundreds of thousands, rather than millions.” Sales included a mid-1950s painting by Joan Mitchell, a steel cut by Tom Wesselmann and a sculpture by Sol LeWitt.

Halley Harrisburg, director of the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery told ARTnewsletter sales were “thoughtful” and that most were made to institutions. Prices ranged from $40,000/300,000 for works by, among others, Richard Pousette-Dart, Bob Thompson and Charmion von Wiegand.

Michael Jenkins, partner in Sikkema Jenkins, said sales included at least one work by each artist featured in the gallery’s booth, including Kara Walker (a set of six etchings sold to a museum for $40,000), Mark Bradford (whose top price was $375,000 for a painting acquired for a European collection), Vik Muniz, Trisha Brown, Jorge Queiroz and Leonardo Drew.

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