December 8, 2014 / 5:43 PM / 3 years ago

Art Basel Miami Beach grows as global attraction, cultural marketplace

An attendee looks over art at Art Basel in Miami Beach December 4, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - From the untold millions in sales of contemporary art to luxury brand-sponsored parties and an invasion of street artists, Miami Art Week ended its 13th and largest annual fair on Sunday, cementing its reputation as one of south Florida’s top tourist draws.

Anchored by the contemporary art show, Art Basel Miami Beach, wealthy art collectors mixed with penniless art enthusiasts to take in the smorgasbord of works on show.

“The driving force behind this show, behind the art market in general is it’s been more global this year,” said Mathias Rastorfer, co-CEO of Zurich-based Galerie Gmurzynska. “We’ve seen collectors from Asia, Latin America, some from Russia.”

The gallery sold a 1918 Picasso painting titled Venus and Amor to a private collector for about $1 million as well as a pair of black and gold circles by Robert Indiana works for $3 million.

New York City and Hong Kong-based Lehmann Maupin Gallery sold Adriana Varejão‘s Polvo Portraits IV for about $400,000 and Teresita Fernández’s Golden for about $300,000.

Street artist Shepard Fairey (lower left in gray shirt) puts the finishing touches on the mural titled "Power and Glory" in the Wynwood section of Miami December 3, 2014, during a satellite event to the annual Art Basel Miami Beach extravaganza. The "Power and Glory" mural is a collaboration between Fairey and artist Cleon Peterson, and encompasses four walls of a building. REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson

Following record-setting auctions in New York City, galleries said contemporary art is securing its place as both an asset and a symbol of sophistication among the wealthy. Moreover it’s readily available, unlike works by Renaissance or modern masters.

“After someone has bought the mansion and the yacht and everything else they might to turn to art,” said Mary-Anne Martin, whose Latin American specializing gallery Mary-Anne Martin Fine Art had a $1 million Wifredo Lam painting on hold for a collector.

Traffic leading towards Art Basel on Miami Beach is seen with the skyline of midtown Miami in the background December 4, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity

On Miami’s mainland, where nearly two dozen satellite fairs set up, crowds packed the sidewalks of the hip Wynwood district, to see massive street art murals by Shepard Fairey, Cleon Peterson, Ron English and Brazil’s Os Gêmeos.

At one of the fairs, Art Miami, Barcelona-based Galeria Mayoral sold Marc Chagall’s 1962 painting Esquisse Sur la Branche for $550,000 while New York City’s Dranoff Fine Art sold an Andy Warhol portrait for $460,000, director Nick Korniloff said.

Meanwhile exclusive, luxury brand-sponsored parties were commonplace as the first week in December in Miami has become a magnet for world’s rich, including real estate firms marketing $50 million apartments.

Developer Craig Robins welcomed crowds to the Design District, now home to dozens of luxury stores like Hublot, Bulgari and Christian Louboutin, while Buenos Aires-based developer Alan Faena hosted a Argentine barbecue for his forthcoming Miami Beach condominium and adjoining performance and exhibition space.

Editing By David Adams and Chizu Nomiyama

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