Hollywood’s Top Art Collectors: Who to Watch For at Art Basel This Year

Miami New Times

By Ciara LaVelle

In theory, Miami Art Week, anchored by Art Basel, is a string of days in which the world’s most cultured individuals descend on South Florida to appreciate fine culture. But as anyone who’s actually participated in Art Basel’s myriad parties, VIP lounges, and secret shows knows, it’s also about seeing and being seen. Especially if you’re famous.

The Hollywood Reporter ranked the top 25 art collectors in Hollywood this week. So who will we see at the biggest art event in the country this year? Here are our guesses.


Richard Burdett/Wikimedia Commons

Sean Combs
The constantly evolving artist formerly known as Puff Daddy and P. Diddy and about a dozen other titles certainly has plenty in common with Wynwood’s ever-changing street art scene. But according to THR, Combs’ taste in art is far more upscale. In 2011, he reportedly showed up at Art Basel and dropped $65,000 on an Ian Navarro sculpture and another $15,000 on another work by South African artist Brett Murray. Maybe he’ll be back to bolster his collection again this year. But we wouldn’t start our search for Diddy at MoCA’s Tracey Emin exhibit; Combs already owns one of the artist’s neon sculptures, valued at $95,000.


Leonardo DiCaprio
Leo, on the other hand, has Wynwood experience; he was spotted wandering the streets and checking in at Panther Coffee in February. THR reports he’s a fan of Basquiat, who began his career as a graffiti artist. It’s unlikely he’ll show up just strolling around Wynwood during the busiest week of the year, of course. But VIP night at the Midtown fairs, on the other hand…

idrewuk/Wikimedia Commons

Jay Z
He and wife Beyonce clearly loved their Art Basel experiences last year — there are about a dozen Instagram pics to prove it. And as THR points out, dude also likes to brag about his art collection in his songs, with verses like “I got Warhols on my hall’s walls.” Hmm, now where did we see Warhol art at Basel last year?  

Elton John
According to TFR, John “has amassed one of the world’s most important photography collections, with an emphasis on portraits, celebrity and fashion.” Art Basel is one of the world’s most important combinations of celebrity and culture, so it only makes sense that he’d show up. Plus, the satellite fair Untitled will open its doors with a VIP event benefitting the Elton John AIDS Foundation. And if the rumors of the Liberace-esque Versace Mansion hosting an exhibit are true, you know he’ll be there, too.

David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

Steve Martin
Martin called art collecting “my greatest hobby.” And while that may be true — the actor goes after works by classics like Picasso and Lichtenstein — he’d be insane not to visit Art Basel without entertaining Miami hipsters with a secret banjo show. Or maybe we’re just fantasizing.


Pharrell Williams
Pharrell’s been an Art Basel staple for years now, showing up at Basel Castle, dropping in on OHWOW exhibits, speaking at Design Miami. You know, typical hip-hop mogul stuff. THR reports that Williams’ tastes skew towards the contemporary; he even collaborated with his art hero, Takashi Murakami, on a piece called The Simple Things in 2009. Who knows what he’ll get up to this December.

Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.

Send your story tips to Cultist at cultist@miaminewtimes.com.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.



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