MIAMI — The prestigious Art Basel art fair has again come to Miami Beach and—as usual—attracted a good deal of attention from celebrities looking to browse, mingle and make purchases.
Among those in attendance: Owen Wilson, who eyed up art at New York’s Van de Weghe booth; leopard-printed socialite Paris Hilton and her actor/model boyfriend Chris Zylka; rapper Wiz Khalifa; modeling legend Cindy Crawford with her son Presley Gerber; artist and honored guest Mark Bradford; local mainstays Scott Disick and Sofia Richie; superstar actor Brad Pitt; and last (but certainly not least) Mr. Titanic himself, Leonardo DiCaprio.
DiCaprio in particular came to do more than look. The (at long last!) Oscar-winning actor spent the best part of an hour in a private room haggling on the purchase price of a Jean-Michel Basquiat drawing valued at $850,000.
DiCaprio appeared to be trying to fly under the radar, dressed in a non-descript manner and covered by a ballcap and a black hoodie. He was, however, unable to travel without an entourage, and so managed to draw attention despite his best efforts.
The star was nevertheless afforded a measure of protection from unwanted attention; photographers at the event were warned that they would be ejected and have their press passes revoked for taking snaps of Leo.
Like the afore-mentioned Wilson, DiCaprio spent time at the Van de Weghe booth during the VIP preview period on Wednesday. He also looked in at a number of other booths, including that of Metro Pictures, which featured a large and prominent piece from artist Cindy Sherman.
The object of the actor’s attention from Basquiat is entitled “Wire” and was created in 1983. The drawing is sized at 76 cm x 56 cm, with the title and artist’s signature appearing on the back. The artwork itself depicts a man staring at a fly with his various body parts labeled. A horizontal line originating from his right thigh bears underneath the quote, “Keep your hands off that wire.”
Lisa Schiff, DiCaprio’s art advisor, seemed to be steering him toward the piece.
“It seemed like they had a plan beforehand,” said a witness. “They brought the work into a private room with Leo, the advisor, and slowly the hat-clad entourage also poured in.”
The witness also added that a pair of blonde models “who looked very much Leo’s type” approached the group and chatted for awhile.
Meanwhile, several fixtures of the art scene mingled among the booths and the celebs, such as collector Beth Rudin de Woody, art dealer Alberto “Tico” Mugrabi, Jeffrey Deitch and famed artist and photorealist Chuck Close.
“There is a lot more interesting work here this year compared to previous years, mainly because the higher priced artworks aren’t exactly flying off the shelves right now,” Close said. “So the galleries are bringing their bigger pieces rather than digging into storage for something to show.”
DiCaprio wasn’t the only attendee grappling with a high price tag. At the Helly Nahmad Gallery stand, offers were flying for a 1969 Pablo Picasso painting entitled “Homme à l’épée” and valued at $25 million.