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Ultra-Rich Shop in Secret Showrooms at Super Bowl of Art World

  • Private space can cost as much as $3,000 for a two-hour slot
  • An estimated $4 billion of works to be displayed at Art Basel
Visitors look at the artwork of Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse "Ponte City" during Art  Basel 2018. 

Visitors look at the artwork of Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse "Ponte City" during Art  Basel 2018. 

Photographer: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

When thousands of wealthy collectors descend on Switzerland for Art Basel next week, works by some of the most coveted artists won’t be on public display. Instead, they’ll be offered to select clients, one by one, in private viewing rooms.

Some rooms are tucked away above the aisles of the convention center, where 290 galleries from 34 countries will set up booths at the world’s biggest modern and contemporary art fair. Others are sequestered at high-security warehouses in an industrial area 15 minutes away by car.