The event that sold a $40m steel spider wants to broaden its appeal

Top art fair Art Basel is primed for growth.

The art fair to end all art fairs, Art Basel, kicked off yesterday in — where else? — Basel, Switzerland.

The event that sold a $40m steel spider wants to broaden its appeal

Feel like Art Basel just happened? You’re not wrong — the organizers also host art mega-events in the fall (Paris), winter (Miami), and spring (Hong Kong).

That’s great, but why should nonbillionaires care?

Art Basel is known for top-dollar sales (see: aforementioned $40m spider) and it’s hard to get excited about shopping for a Rothko without the required millions in your wallet.

But the event is readying for an evolution. Per The New York Times, freshly installed chief exec Noah Horowitz envisions Art Basel’s future as more “experience” than art fair.

  • Horowitz views Art Basel as a growing brand — one that could host, in essence, cultural world fairs that convene the art, fashion, film, music, and design communities.
  • Lead investor James Murdoch (yes, of that Murdoch family) cited Formula 1, which takes over global cities for 23 races per year, as a model for Art Basel to follow.

Can they pull it off?

Art Basel has a strong head start — pre-pandemic, its flagship Basel event drew 93k attendees from 80+ countries — but its larger ambitions require more than branding; the global economy also must hold strong.

Inflation fears have already driven down art sale prices. In 2022, an Andy Warhol painting sold for $195m during New York’s auction week. In 2023, only one Warhol sold — for a measly $2m. Bummer.

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Topics: Art

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