Art Basel Fort Lauderdale? Yuck. But if the rumors are true, art snobs from around the globe will have to familiarize themselves with the 9-5-4. Basel organizers are close to inking a multimillion dollar deal with the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, which could land the popular art fair some 31 miles from the Magic City.
In a letter sent out last night via electronic mail, and obtained by Cultist, Basel organizers cited Miami's "apparent lack of interest" in fine art, and "unruly crowd behavior" as the two main factors behind their decision to sever ties with the 305. The letter referenced the shenanigans at Ultra and ArteAmericas, specifically gang rape, crowd riots, art vandalism, and child molestation.
Plus, they add, "Art Basel Miami Beach had become more of a social event than the serious, international art fair we envisioned. It was never our intention for this to happen, and in an effort to remain true to our founding principles, we are exploring our options to restore the sanctity of Art Basel."
Among those options, a move to a smaller, quieter city, Fort Lauderdale, littered with old Florida money, mega yachts, and exclusive invite-only galleries.
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"We feel the city of Fort Lauderdale understands art better than Miami. Art Basel is not a party. It's contemporary arts' crème-de-la-crème, and unfortunately, the people of Miami-Dade County continue to make a mockery of this business via open bars and subsequent drunken debauchery. Also, we hear there's this ultra cool place in Fort Lauderdale called Riverwalk."
As for the satellite fairs, they're sticking around for at least one more year. "We're going to give Miami another shot," says Ian Blackwell, a prominent curator, art critic, and spokesperson for the Society of Contemporary Arts and Museums (SCAM). "From what I understand, Fort Lauderdale is a fine city, but there's not much going on. When do you hear of a celebrity 'in town' for an event in Fort Lauderdale? Rarely, if ever, right? Miami's a better scene, and for whatever reason Basel organizers want to move, I say let 'em. Nobody goes to Basel anyhow. It's all about the satellite festivals."
[UPDATE: Happy April Fools' Day.]