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Invitation Only At VIP Event & Vernissage At Art Basel Miami Beach

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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – The rich really are different. Case in point, the invitation only Wednesday night event at Art Basel Miami Beach called Vernissage.

Vernissage is French meaning varnishing. It is a term used for a preview of an art exhibition before the formal opening. In other words, Vernissage is the earliest opportunity for collectors with deep pockets to acquire their works of art before the masses come through the doors.

The private view, as it is often called, is a custom that began almost 100-years ago. At Art Basel Miami, the uber rich and famous sip champagne and wine, nibble on canapés and chat with world-renowned artists and new artists on the vanguard of the visual arts.

But before Vernissage, VIP’s and the elite patrons of the art world, got a sneak peek and first dibs at buying some of the world’s leading Modern and contemporary art Wednesday morning.

That’s why Miami collectors Marvin Ross Friedman and Adrienne Bon Haes come year after year.

“I love Art Basel because the galleries save the best for this show. You see things you’ve never seen before, all for this show.”

Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn’s been called a stealth force in the art world in New York. Her gallery, Salon 94’s booth at Basel has abstract pieces by painter Marilyn Minter. One of Minter’s items is priced at $550,000. Jeanne scouts top-notch art for Hollywood’s most elite, such as Lady Gaga and Jay Z.

She wouldn’t talk names, but said there’s always a way to find the right piece for every client.

“It’s about sitting down and finding what’s right for the right person, you ask about their interests and those will change, as you collect more art,” said Jeanne.

This years star sightings included Cindy Crawford and husband Randy Gerber, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, and movie producer Brian Grazer with music producer Jimmy Iovine, both are Basel first-timers.

“Are you looking for something special from a particular artist?” asked CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo.

“Not really,” replied Iovine. “I don’t know art that well. I’m just here to check it out.”

The morning rush made it clear that the 12th year will have record breaking crowds.

“Wow!, I just got in here and could not believe the pushy crowd. It was very New York. Not very Miami,” said Bay.

But one of Miami’s most well-known collectors, Norman Braman, could not be happier with what this art fair means to his hometown.

“What’s important for me, as you know, is that not one dime of taxpayer’s dollars pay for anything. It’s like the Superbowl of art and the public doesn’t pay for it. I love that,” said Braman.

Art Basel was founded by gallerists in 1970, and has been a driving force in supporting the role that galleries play in the nurturing of artists, and the development and promotion of visual arts.

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