From page one of this morning's Miami Herald:
The first day of Art Basel Miami Beach was marked by sizable crowds of enthusiastic collectors - and strong sales.
In a scene more fit for Black Friday than for the most prestigious of U.S. art fairs, a crush of well-heeled collectors pushed their way through purse inspection points and lines, spilling into the Miami Beach Convention Center on Wednesday morning.
More than 40,000 people are expected to attend the ninth edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, which opens to the public Thursday and runs until Sunday.
In the first 90 minutes after the 11 a.m. opening, the rush proved profitable: Dealers at the contemporary art fair reported sales far stronger than last year's, and several patrons noted that they'd tried to put works on reserve -- only to find out they were already sold. Many gallerists said works were selling for at or near asking prices.
Sounds great ....until you compare it with what the New York Times reported today:
MIAMI BEACH – The crowds that used to form more than an hour before the opening of the “First Choice” portion of Art Basel Miami Beach—the four-hour window between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when only elite collectors can enter and browse the fair—are gone. Gone too are the speculators who before the financial crisis used to race down the aisles as soon as the doors opened in order to snag a work that they thought they could flip at a profit a few months later. Indeed, on Wednesday during “First Choice” things seemed sedate compared to the years before 2008. Some described the giant convention hall as “empty.”
Hmmmm, the Herald reports "sizable crowds" and the Times says the place was "half-empty." Who to believe?
More reading: Wall Street Journal-"[D]espite the speed of Wednesday's sales, the pace pales in comparison to the boom years, many dealers said."
Miami Today-"Fewer jet in privately, but tour operators bank on Art Basel."
-thanks to Alfred Spellman for a great tip!