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The Five Craziest Art Basel Moments of All Time

Snoop Dogg Hot Dogs was on display at Satellite Art Show in 2018.
Snoop Dogg Hot Dogs was on display at Satellite Art Show in 2018.
Photo by Daniella Mía
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It's that time of the year when name-dropping becomes an Olympic sport, glasses of crappy champagne cost $20, and bougie out-of-towners get to pretend that a pop-up strip club is art. Art Basel is here, if the horrific traffic jams and insanely jacked-up Uber rates haven't already given it away.

This year promises full-throttle weirdness in the form of a monster-truck show, giant pink sloths, and Grimes hosting a tribute to "the well-proven anti-aging properties of raving." But it's still TBD if anything can top these peak Basel moments from recent years:

1. Usher charging his iPhone in a woman's vagina.
Basel has been good to Usher Raymond IV, who will have you know he's a serious art collector these days. In 2014, in between his performance at the AAA and a contemplative stop at a pornographic Christmas manger, the "Yeah!" singer needed an iPhone charge. With nary an outlet to be found, he instead upped his personal ick factor by a million by stopping to juice up his cell inside a woman's lady bits.

 2. A woman got stabbed, and everyone thought it was performance art.
A woman's shrieks filled the air of a bustling Miami Beach Convention Center in 2015 as Siyuan Zhao, a 24-year-old student from New York, stabbed a woman's neck and arms with an X-Acto knife. Passersby assumed the violent scene was merely an avant-garde performance, but before long, the cops were calling it attempted murder. Thankfully, the victim survived the attack. Zhao agreed to be deported to China as part of a plea negotiation.

3. An $85,000 Picasso plate was stolen from a tent in Midtown.
Despite 24-hour security, a mess of video cameras, and the entrances literally being kept under lock and key, some hoity-toity burglar was apparently able to swipe an $85,000 silver plate engraved by Pablo Picasso at 2014's Art Miami. Insurance covered the Dutch gallery's loss, but the culprit still has yet to be found.

4. A taxidermy artist was arrested for smuggling orangutan skulls and hawk-eagle skins.
In the grand scheme of things, Enrique Gomez de Molina's work was no weirder than anyone else's at Art Basel 2010. De Molina's fantastical sculptures mixed the parts of different animals — a crab would become a squirrel, or a rooster's head would be found on a wolf's hindquarters. But it turns out not all the parts de Molina used were legally obtained.

In 2011, the feds charged the Miami-based artist with illegally trafficking in endangered and protected wildlife, and he was later sentenced to a year and a half in prison. His conviction was by no means a career killer, though: By 2015, he was back at it again, displaying his work during Miami Art Week.

5. And finally, horse porn.
Enough said.

A version of this post ran December 1, 2016.

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