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No Retreat at Art Basel as Steven Cohen’s Richter Beckons

  • Works priced at $500,000 or less moved fast early at booths
  • David Zwirner gallery found buyers for more than 30 artworks
'Prag 1883' by Gerhard Richter.

'Prag 1883' by Gerhard Richter.

Photographer: Mara Bernath/Bloomberg
Updated on

The rain and falling stock markets failed to spoil collectors’ shopping mood during the opening hours of Art Basel, the world’s biggest modern and contemporary art fair, on Tuesday in Switzerland. 

Jet-setters and billionaires waited in long lines underneath umbrellas to get the dibs on the paintings and sculptures offered by 286 galleries at the cavernous convention center in Basel. Works priced at $500,000 or less sold briskly, while more expensive pieces, including billionaire Steven Cohen’s $20 million Gerhard Richter painting, lingered. Dealers were happy to give reasonable discounts -- about 10 percent, advisers said -- but some works were so coveted they had to be hidden in gallery closets to maintain order.