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A Collectors Primer: The Insiders Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach

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So, you’ve heard all about the art, the fun, the glamour, the parties and the incredible private collections that surround Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), but you’re not sure how to navigate your time there?

As someone who has been to ABMB since its inception, I learned a few tricks along the way to help you make the most of your time there. First, some preliminary guidelines:


The ideal time is to be in Miami from Tuesday, December 4th to Thursday, December 6th when you have the best chance to view and purchase art as well as mingle with some of the top collectors worldwide. If your work schedule does not permit such an early arrival, don’t despair as there is still plenty to see, do and buy from Friday to Sunday.

Hotel and Air

For those who haven’t booked flights or accommodations yet, contact American Airlines which has some of the best connections to Miami, especially from NY. For hotels, if you want to splurge more on the art than your room, check out the deals from the NADA Art Fair, with rooms starting at $109. It’s at their host hotel, the Deauville Beach Resort, with a free shuttle bus that takes you round-trip from the resort to ABMB.

However, to remain closer to the main ABMB fair, stay between 14th to 23rd Street on Collins Avenue in South Beach. Turon Travel has the widest selection of discounted hotel rooms and they can also assist you with your flight plans.

VIP Cards

VIP Cards offer distinct advantages, including early access as well as free admission. As a collector, there still is time to receive a VIP card, especially for the satellite fairs, such as Scope, Pulse, and Art Miami . If you miss the chance to register for a VIP card, please know that tickets for all fairs, including ABMB and Design Miami, can be purchased online or at the fairs ticket booth.

If you happen to belong to a museum group, such as the MoMA Junior Associates, contact the group leader as not only will you have VIP access to many of the fairs but to private events as well.

With that out of the way, here’s how to make the most of your time:

Mornings – 9 AM to 12 PM

Visit the private foundations of the top collectors in Miami including the Rubell Family Collection, the Margulies Collection, the De La Cruz Collection and the CIFO/Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection. Admission is generally free with the exception of a $10 entrance fee donation to The Lotus House Shelter for the Margulies Collection.

Another option, and no, it’s not the beach, even though a Bloody Mary or a Cuban Canchánchara cocktail poolside will sound good at all times, is attending the Art Basel Conversations series, especially to hear leading artist, Richard Tuttle, speak from 10 to 11:30 AM on Thursday.

Afternoon – 12 to 7 PM

After admiring others collections, it’s time to consider working on your own, so hit the fairs. One to visit every day is the large, grid-patterned main fair, ABMB. Consider it a time investment not only for your collection but your art education as well. Also, since so much walking is involved, and despite fashion trends, wear your most comfortable shoes. Seriously, you will be grateful that you did.

Attending the main fair is just part of your day so don’t forget to visit the satellite fairs, there are at least 15 this year. Top choices include Pulse, NADA, Art Miami, Design Miami , Scope and the new inaugural fair, Miami Project. Complimentary transportation is usually provided via bus from the main fair but check the satellite fairs website for additional information. Also, know that Scope and Art Miami are within close walking distance of each other as is the main fair and Design Miami.

Evening – 7 PM to early AM

As you probably already know, Miami is a party town. Dress your best and just know it will be a late night. Whether you have parties to attend or not, make sure to include dining or drinking at the signature art world haunts such as the Delano, Raleigh, the new James Hotel, SLS, Sagamore, W Hotel or The Standard.

For late night, follow le Baron which, after numerous years at the Delano, for 2012 opens its signature parties to a new secret location each evening, which will be disclosed at 6 PM daily during the fair via their Facebook and Twitter page.


Now, for most collectors, dining is as much part of the Art Basel Miami experience as the art. Below are some of the newer places to try, located primarily in the South Beach area, with one old favorite thrown in:

The Bazaar at SLS Hotels

Created by a true culinary master and multiple award-winner, José Andrés, this innovative, newly-opened restaurant, designed by Philippe Starck should be considered at the top of your list. Make your reservation as soon as possible.


The Executive Chef of this new seafood restaurant, with international flavors, is Top Chef winner, Hung Huynh. Good for a group and ideal for sharing dishes.

My Ceviche

I admit, I’m curious about this takeout and delivery place with offerings that include stone crab claws, ceviche and seafood tacos. But it has a good pedigree, being co-owned by chef, Samuel Gorenstein, a previous chef at both BLT Fish and BLT Steak and a James Beard award nominee. Its other owner, entrepreneur Roger Duarte is also the founder and president of the largest stone crab home delivery service in the U.S. It’s open from 11:30 AM to 11:00 PM on weekends and 11:30 AM to 10 PM on weekdays with a wide delivery area.

Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill

A long-standing favorite of gallerist, Andrew Kreps, this restaurant with incredibly fresh seafood is right on the water and accessible via both boat and car. It’s a bit far from the South Beach area but worth it and make sure you have transportation booked both ways.

Toro Toro

I’m a big fan of the chef/owner of this new restaurant, Richard Sandoval, and his restaurant in NYC, Raymi, may be one of my favorite Peruvian places to dine. So, I’m looking forward to trying his just opened Pan Latin Steakhouse even though it’s outside the South Beach area.

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

With a website link of “” you first have to, at least, smile. But expect some serious Southern food and what may be the best fried chicken in Miami by another celebrated chef, Jeff McInnis. Also, know it’s a late night place, staying open to midnight during the week and 2 AM on the weekend.

Enjoy Miami and all the festivities surrounding it!

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