Is Art Basel Miami Beach Still Fun?

An important report from the people who *extreme James Murphy voice* were there.

by Annie Armstrong
Dec 7 2019, 11:07pm

This year marks 17 years of Art Basel Miami Beach. That’s 17 years of art world devotees flying in from all corners of the earth to eat Joe’s Stone Crab, sneak into the nicer hotels’ pools, crash parties, get kicked out of parties, get stranded in Wynwood—the works. If you ask anyone who's been more than once they’ll all give you a similar sneer to the tune of, “Well, the parties really aren’t what they used to be.” That may very well be true, but the culture of excess surrounding the infamous event doesn’t show any signs of stopping.

Though some Art Basel Miami Beach-lifers assert that the event is significantly calmer than years past. “It was completely different in 2002,” Lisa Spellman, owner and director of New York’s 303 Gallery told GARAGE. “It was like the Wild West… And the people [from Miami] would just kind of point at us and laugh. If we had staff that had like, crucifix tattoos on them, they were so harassed.”

The anonymous voice behind the contentious Instagram gossip feed @jerrygogosian also recalled wild memories from the early aughts. They wrote over email, “I was once at a very exclusive night club in Miami where a friend and I had the privilege of drinking $15K of Moet Chandon with a particular well-known artist from Japan.”

They continued, “When the check arrived and we played dumb until he accused us of being "champagne whores." I was "triggered" by such accusations and decided to throw the remainder of my whorey champagne on him to which he exclaimed, ‘Tom Fucking Ford made this for me!’ His security team chased us out of the club and down the street.”

They summarized, “This was 2005 and something equally absurd has happened every subsequent year since. I'll always come back!”

Artist Raul de Nieves’ wildest party memory came from one simple interaction: “I asked Larry Gagosian who made his jeans.” And did he answer? “LOL no.”

Erin Golberger, director of Half Gallery and owner of New Release, recalls “At Le Baron, Andre Saraiva used to throw these amazing parties and every night, we’d get a text for where the new Le Baron party was. Every night it was somewhere else. Ellie Rines [owner of 56 Henry] and I, we had a night where I lost my cellphone and she lost her entire purse. Everything was stolen. I woke up on the beach.”

Many were still dazzled from the festivities of this year’s fair, however. “Last night at the Gucci party, Iggy Pop had his whole ass out,” reported artist Cameron Welch, his eyes still bugged.

Similarly, Tali Lennox fell silent when asked about how the party scene this year had been treating her. “All I’ll say is that I’ve only been using my hotel room to take bubble baths.” Though she arrived on Monday, the artist hadn’t slept in her own hotel room through Wednesday.

Brooke Wise was similarly shaken up by events that happened just this year alone. At a dinner in the home of Alan Faena thrown by Lenny Kravitz, her and her sister, artist Chloe Wise arrived late and had to share one seat.

“We each had one butt cheek on the chair while trying to converse with famous actors, models, art gallerists, etc. The dinner was on a stage built out on his lawn, that was way too narrow and people kept falling off. The party turned into a drunken celebrity and art world filled moment with a dancing and sunglasses at night wearing Paris Hilton [and] a cigarette smoking Sean Penn. [It] was great for people watching.”

This past Friday, Jamian Juliano-Villani had the rare wild story that happened in broad daylight. She and fellow artist Matt Copson decided to rent some jet skis this year, and flipped them over in the middle of the ocean. “I also almost decapitated him [by driving] at 60 miles an hour.”

Not as fun or wild as it used to be? Maybe you're the one who's no fun.