MIAMI BEACH — South Beach started to resemble spring break last night — but with much more money, and with Europeans. There was a preview of the actual art at Art Basel from 6 to 8, which gave everyone a chance to check out the maze of work from galleries all over the world. A VIP collectors' suite was actually for collectors of other expensive things, like jets and beachside condos. Cipriani, Related, Netjets, and Bulgari had outposts to offer consolation prizes if you couldn't get the art you wanted because it had already been bought or, more likely, because the gallery wanted to sell it to someone better than you. Unlike New York corporate parties, however, there were no free drinks flowing to impair inhibitions. These companies may have had enough marketing cash to be in a classy place, but there was a cash register set up on the bar. Not classy at all.
But later things got classier.
Deitch Projects hosted late-night party at the Raleigh with musical guest Devendra Banhart. Jeffrey Deitch attempted to give his guest street creed by mentioning that Banhart is homeless. Except he's not: We know someone who knows his landlord in L.A. Not only is Banhart not homeless, his mane was primped by MAC for the show.
David Bouley's restaurant, Evolution, is set to open soon in the new Ritz Carlton — South Beach's answer to the Time Warner Center — and so there was the added thrill of being first for New Yorkers who attended the dinner there sponsored by Jimmy Choo to benefit the Whitney Contemporaries. Choo chief Tamara Mellon hadn't been to the art fair yet, but this was the second party she was hosting in two days. "It's a great marketing opportunity," she chirped, wearing a shimmery Alexander McQueen dress. Hollywood royalty Liz Goldwyn was in town promoting her book, Pretty Things, and Christmas shopping. "Here's a hot tip to all you artists out there," she said through brightly painted red lips. "It's all about reasonably priced stocking stuffers that are collectibles." She had already bought the toy set from Visionaire and Alex Katz beach towels from the Art Production Fund. "Maybe it's become a product of our commercialized society, but it works for me."
By midnight, the not-homeless, MAC-ified Banhart had to stop his great performance because of a strict cop curfew about music on the beach. Still, the Deitch party raged on, attended by Casey Spooner, Genevieve Jones, and Arden Wohl. The free bottles of Pravda vodka on all the tables certainly helped. An art-world insider friend offered some survival advice: "Stay away from all fashion parties at an art fair." —Deborah Schoeneman