Where the Buys Are: A Party Planner Talks About the Business of Art Basel Miami

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[He co-owns the W Hotel and] because the W is a hybrid, because it has a hotel, because it has condos, his goal is to make it the place, the focus during Art Basel. So we have a dinner [for about 100.]


It’s a little hard to believe that all your clients are so ‘wonderful.’

One of them can be a nightmare, but don’t put that in.


Last year, at the Rosen dinner, Aby, Peter Brant, Tico Mugrabi, John McEnroe, Val Kilmer and Eli Broad ended up hanging out together at one table late into the night. How did that come about?

That dinner was really a good mix of people. … It was one of those great moments where everything came together in the right way. You can see from the people hopping from table to table. By the end of it, nobody was at the place they were supposed to be.


What’s the science of seating people? You have illustrated guides for your staff on Who’s Who.

The biggest mistake is to put people together because they know each other. Different ages, different interests, you have to rattle the cages. Beyond that, it’s simple: People want to be well fed, with easy access to cocktails.


What makes a good dinner-party guest?

Somebody who knows there is such a thing as singing for your supper, not being boring.


Dennis Hopper was one of your regulars.

He was wonderful, wicked, lovable, talented, a character, and we all miss him.


Who else?

Vito Schnabel, Lyor Cohen [vice chairman of Warner Music], Diana Picasso, Johnny Pigozzi, Nate Lowman, all the young artists.


What’s the biggest near-catastrophe you’ve had?

Giving a head cold to Zaha Hadid at a freezing dinner at the Setai.


What’s different at Art Basel Miami this year?

The luxury brands, fashion brands, are not as present this year.


Are the fashion people different from the art people?

The art people are better dressed.


What about what’s for sale–what’s different there?

[They’ve moved] the design fair next to the art fair; that makes the whole shopping experience very much easier. The design fair should be more successfully financially. The second thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of galleries were playing safe and having more blue-chip artists; [now] they’re taking risks again on more emerging artists.


You said there’s a misconception about Art Basel Miami Beach?

There are always more social people who migrate and are attracted to these kind of happenings: the Oscars, Cannes, Art Basel. The misconception, and it’s also a center of wonderful parties and events and celebrates important people of the art world–but it’s a business fair.


So what’s an example of business done at one of your events?

No comment.


What’s the craziest question you ever got?

‘Where are the rich collectors sitting?’


Where the Buys Are: A Party Planner Talks About the Business of Art Basel Miami