Since its launch in Miami in 2002, Art Basel has been attracting people from all over the world who appreciate innovation and creativity.
Today, satellite events have spread to Wynwood, Midtown, downtown, Mid-Beach and North Beach, and last year about 75,000 people attended the main fair.
The first Basel fair featured 160 galleries from 23 countries, attracted 30,000 visitors and has grown and grown and grown — much like our skyline and real-estate industry.
The growth and popularity of the event have bolstered our tourism industry and made us one of the fastest emerging cultural epicenters of the world.
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For one week in December, all eyes started looking to Miami, including those of some of the world’s greatest architects and developers.
Today, they are creating a skyline that is second to none, while Basel brings buyers appreciative of artistic creations.
The burgeoning love affair between Miami and art can be evidenced by two recently announced museums: the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, the brainchild of Norman and Irma Braman, and the Latin American Art Museum by Gary Nader.
Miami was largely a blank canvas in 2002, and so many have seized the opportunity to fill the space with remarkable buildings that are works of art themselves.
In downtown Miami, Zaha Hadid paired with developers Louis Birdman and Gregg Covin for the grandiose 1000 Museum. What was once the famous Bal Harbour Club will become the spectacular, all-new Oceana Bal Harbour, thanks to Italian architect and interior designer Piero Lissoni and developer Consultatio USA.
And then there is Herzog & de Meuron, Richard Meier, Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas, among the many other great names, with others soon to be announced.
Art Basel is certainly a time for businesses to shine. It provides an instant injection of funds into the economy, and the effects of the fair linger long after it leaves town.
This is certainly the case for the real-estate industry, which has benefitted greatly from the influx of discerning art lovers.
Amid the week of amazing art and all the accompanying events, the glitterati look up and see Miami as a wonderful place to purchase property. And they have many to choose from, for a relatively affordable budget.
All are designed by local and international architectural greats who provide a perfect place to display a new piece or two.
The past week has seen traffic gridlock, long lines and a shortage of restaurant reservations.
But as an enthusiastic collector of Latin American art and a member of the Photography Committee at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, I will be sad to see the sun set on the event so soon.
Art Basel will continue to play an important role in the growth of South Florida’s real-estate industry and the development of greater Miami as a whole.
As a native Miamian, I am grateful for how this fair has moved the city forward in so many ways. As the tents come down and the works are carefully packed away, Miamians can still admire innovative and creative pieces all year-round.
All you have to do is look up to our skyline and thank the increased business to our bottom lines.
Daniel de la Vega is president of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.