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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Art Basel is back.
Wednesday morning the world-renowned art show kicked off with a VIP preview.
Today, the biggest and richest art dealers, collectors, celebrities, and media gathered to see what Art Basel’s 16th edition has to offer this year with about 268 galleries participating.
The invite-only preview comes just a day before the show is set to open to the public at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
This year’s show will introduce a new floorplan and show design as the convention center continues to undergo renovations.
“Despite the fact there is some ongoing work on the outside of the building, the inside is absolutely incredible,” said Noah Horowitz, Director Americas for Art Basel.
Inside, on this VIP Preview day where only pre-qualified buyers can enter, the new wider booths were filling up with buyers fast.
Oscar Seikaly, a collector from Miami says the key to buying top art is to do your homework.
“You have to track things over time. You can’t just show up and buy something. If you’re spending more money, you have to research it,” said Seikaly.
The crowd eyed everything from priceless classics like a Picasso to newer contemporary artists. There are sculptures, paintings, photos and everything from the truly bizarre to the beautiful depending on your eye.
A Berlin-based gallery is back for its sixth year.
“Are you seeing a buzz this morning,” asked CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo.
“Yes, we are. We have made sales already and that’s a great thing,” said gallery owner Medhi Chouakri.
Celebrities roamed the halls Wednesday morning including the camera-shy Leo DiCaprio in a hoody, walking almost unnoticed.
Director Michael Bay was also ready to add to his collection and was roaming the Art Basel halls.
“It’s a great cultural place to be and I love to come here and buy art and spend way too much money. No, I don’t,” said Bay while laughing.
Some art lovers arrived as art themselves.
“I’m wearing one of Boy George’s hats. He gave it to me. I made the dress and the jewelry. I live my life as art,” said Daniel Lismore who was dressed head-to-toe in silks and jewelry.
Fashion is all a part of the fun of Art Basel too. In the end, Basel 2017 is about, yes, the buying and selling of fine art but let’s not forget South Florida.
“It’s made us, instead of being a sun and fun beach community with good weather, to be one of the top art communities in the world, ” said Norman Braman, Chairman of Art Basel Miami Beach.
The VIP event for Aqua Art Miami featured international galleries representing 15 countries.
“Well, Aqua has a very different vibe because it’s a hotel so we remove the furniture from all the rooms and they all become booths,” said a host. “We just sold the ‘Slid Tongue,’ which someone bought in order to use it in their pool, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Featured at Aqua was the artist whose photo is on the cover of Miami Magazine.
“This is the reason why I came here, you know, it’s not every, maybe it’s once in my life to have an opportunity,” said Mailo.
Thousands of art lovers are expected to roam the halls of Art Basel Miami Beach through the weekend.
Starting Thursday, doors will open to the public at 3 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, doors will open at noon and close at 8 p.m. On Sunday, the last day of the show, doors will close at 6 p.m.
Click here for more info.