Miami Developers Find New, Exciting Ways to Exploit Art for Profit

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A cynic looking at Miami's art boom over the past decade could make a strong argument that the art scene has been used as little more than a pawn by developers with the ultimate goal of selling more real estate. (See: the gentrification of Wynwood as the most obvious example.)

Well, today comes news that the developers of Oceana Bal Harbour will install two Jeff Koons pieces in the under-construction building. While commonly owned art in condo buildings isn't exactly unheard of, it's rare that the works are by artists so high profile (and expensive) that they're prominently name-checked in Lady Gaga songs.

Developer Eduardo Costantini tells the Wall Street Journal that buying a place at Oceana (starting price is $3 million) will get buyers a small ownership stake in the two works by Koons (which of course includes upkeep and insurance of the works in the condo fees).

Constantini bought the two works, "Pluto and Proserpina" and "Ballerina," last year for $14 million. They'll sit on opposing ends of the building's breezeway.

"Miami is becoming truly a metropolis, and Jeff Koons is a representation of that, with the visibility that he has, and the quality of his art," Costantini told WSJ. "You have like, citizens of the world, who travel a lot, and have more than two residences, but they have the sensitivity to appreciate good things, good quality."

Which basically boils down to: Yes, we're using art as a marketing tool to attract rich foreigners to buy multi-million dollar condos here that they'll only live in for a few months a year.

Of course, certain art snobs might chuckle over the fact that that's the ultimate fate of some of Koons' works.

Art critic Robert Hughes once wrote that Koons is "an extreme and self-satisfied manifestation of the sanctimony that attaches to big bucks. ...The significant thing is that there are collectors, especially in America, who believe it. He has the slimy assurance, the gross patter about transcendence through art, of a blow-dried Baptist selling swamp acres in Florida. And the result is that you can't imagine America's singularly depraved culture without him."

And here his works are actually being used to sell real estate in Florida.

We won't be surprised if other developers follow suit with big-buck artworks in their lobbies as well... if they already don't have plans to.

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