Economy Shadows Miami Art Fair

Collectors descend on Art Basel, but sales are slow
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2008 1:30 PM CST
People walk past a painting of Barack Obama by artist Yan Pei-Ming from the Zwirner & Wirth gallery during a preview for VIPs at Art Basel Miami Beach, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008.    (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
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(Newser) – The art world descends on Miami this week for Art Basel Miami Beach, America's biggest art fair. But last night's VIP opening had none of the crazed buying of recent years, when collectors ran through the aisles in the first minutes like frenzied Wal-Mart shoppers. "It's obvious the economy is having an effect," one Berlin dealer told the Miami Herald. "There's no rush. Before it was crazy."

The annual fair brings together 266 galleries from around the world, and a dozen satellite fairs around the city make Miami the nation's undisputed art capital for one week. The recession hasn't tamed the profusion of parties and cross-promotions, but dealers are bracing for a poor showing. "We’re getting offers at less than the asking prices," said one Chicago dealer. "No one is rushing to buy anything."