Cautious Collectors Still Deliver Strong Sales at Art Basel Miami

BY Arts Desk  December 7, 2009 at 1:44 PM EST

In a year when art prices have been all over the map (a disappointing auction here, a big bidding war there), the five-day trade fair Art Basel Miami Beach was another closely-watched event, being analyzed now for the greater financial implications for artists and collectors. Catering to many of the world’s most elite collectors, Art Basel Miami (the North American counterpart to the original Art Basel in Switzerland) is known for its glitzy parties and glamorous attendees. This year was more laid back, with smaller crowds and lower prices, but with galleries actually reporting stronger sales.

“Last December, the fair was very, very slow. It was just months after the crash,” says Jason Kaufman, correspondent for The Art Newspaper. “This year, things were picking up considerably….Although, it was not quite like the old days by any stretch of the imagination.”

Both galleries and consumers were cautious. Many galleries that showed in last year’s show didn’t return this year, giving up their spots to others on the waiting list. Collectors were less interested in paying for emerging artists, but spent more on established artists like James Rosenquist, Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol.

Art Beat got the full picture on Art Basel Miami from Jason Kaufman.