Art Basel: Brisk Sales, but No Frenzy

Collectors buy, but enthusiasm is low at Swiss art fair
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2008 9:55 AM CDT
A visitor looks at a work by Cindy Sherman at Art Basel in Switzerland, Wednesday, June 4, 2008. Art 39 Basel features about 300 leading art galleries from all continents.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Ennio Leanza)
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(Newser) – Art Basel, the world's most prestigious (and most expensive) art fair, opened Tuesday in Switzerland amid grumbles that works for sale were of middling quality and overpriced. "Now there are just too many art fairs," said a director of PaceWildenstein, one of New York's biggest galleries. As the New York Times writes, this year's Art Basel is loaded with well-known names at the expense of new discoveries.

Gone is last year's feeding frenzy, though sales have been brisk, despite a weak dollar that kept many American collectors away. Unlike its swinging sister fair in Miami Beach, the original Art Basel is all about business, but a few celebrities were spotted at the opening, from Chelsea soccer team owner Roman Abramovich to Brad Pitt and Sofia Coppola.