Early this morning, revelers outside the Miami pop-up of the Paris nightclub Silencio found a popsicle-wielding indie-pop star staffing an ice-cream truck studded with half a million Swarovski crystals.
Inside, guests worked up a sweat in a conga line led by “Get Lucky” singer Pharrell Williams, with art dealer Emmanuel Perrotin, rapper Sean Combs, Takashi Murakami and people dressed as the Japanese artist’s costumed characters in tow.
Damien Hirst and Shepard Fairey were also in the house as figures from the art world mingled with financiers including asset manager Randy Slifka. It was all part of the electric social scene surrounding Art Basel Miami Beach, which includes scores of parties besides the main fair and more than a dozen satellite exhibitions.
Last night’s festivities started at the Bass Museum of Art, where Romanian performance-artist veterans of Venice’s Biennale named paintings and sculptures -- the Mona Lisa, a statue of Isis -- and contorted themselves to re-enact those artworks. At the SLS Hotel, Royal Bank of Canada treated guests to poolside scotch and sushi.
Heartier sustenance arrived in the form of Shake Shack burgers, frozen custard and popcorn served at a Surface Magazine event where Kanye West and Swiss architect Jacques Herzog joined Hans-Ulrich Obrist, co-director of exhibitions and programs at London’s Serpentine Gallery, for a discussion about design.
The singer and rapper talked more of his love for his Le Corbusier lamp than about his girlfriend, Kim Kardashian, while Herzog said he’d prefer to make architecture that engages the sense of smell than to put his name on a perfume, which he and his business partner, Pierre de Meuron, tried once. “It ends up in a bin at 50 percent off and makes you feel bad,” he said.
The day’s work -- or rather, art work -- began in earnest at 11 a.m., when the doors to Art Basel Miami Beach opened to VIPs. Among the first to arrive were Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, and a group of museum trustees. “We’re going to tour the fair methodically, row by row, inch by inch,” Golden said.
Plenty of others wandered in with less formal entourages: billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, sporting a sweater over his shoulders; Peter Kraus, chairman and chief executive officer of AllianceBernstein; John Arnold, founder of Centaurus Advisors LLC; and Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. Cindy Crawford and her husband, Rande Gerber, posed in front of a Joan Mitchell at the booth of Acquavella Galleries.
“I’m going to try to get out cheaply,” Gruss Investments’ senior partner, Martin Gruss, said in front of a Joan Miro displayed at Helly Nahmad Gallery’s stand.
Morris Mark, president of Mark Asset Management Corp., said he and his wife were shopping for each other’s anniversary present.
Mark Schwartz, chief executive of Palladin Consumer Retail Partners, admired a cigar held by Timothy J. Ingrassia, co-chairman of global mergers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
“I just watched it being made,” Ingrassia said in the collector’s lounge of the fair, where Davidoff offered fresh hand-rolled cigars for $12 and humidors for $18,500.
Past the Ruinart champagne bar -- bottles went for $120 and glasses $20 -- watchmaker Gary Cruz spread out his tools to take apart and reassemble an Audemars Piguet Calibre 3120.
“It’s 270 parts, including a 22-karat gold rotor,” said Cruz, who comes from a family of plumbers and was steered toward horology by his wife.
“Everybody’s cross-promoting here -- it’s an endless supply of luxury,” said real-estate developer Aby Rosen.
Michael Lynne, the film executive turned winemaker, said he expected the 2013 vintage from his Bedell Cellars would be one of his best, while painter Will Cotton talked up a ginger whipped cream macaron he’s just designed for Laduree of Paris.
The popsicles outside the pop-up Silencio were free, and offered up with a smidgeon of wisdom.
“We want our ice cream truck to wake you up out of this zombie state,” said Leyla Safai of the band HeartsRevolution. “So many people are just surviving. We’re dreaming.”