Luxury Property Brokers Raring To Pounce On Wealthy Art Lovers At Miami Art Basel


by Erin Carlyle

Next week an explosion of art, champagne, and parties descends upon South Florida in the annual blowout that is Art Basel Miami Beach. And luxuryproperty brokers will be pushing their listings to the wealthy art-lovers flying in on private jets.

“Many people come here with intention of buying a piece of real estate this week,” says Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors, South Florida’s Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate. “But for many people, it’s a spontaneous buy. When you’re dealing with people who have several hundred million dollars, to pick up a condo while you’re visiting is like many of us would go to the mall for the weekend.”



At least that’s what the brokers hope. Last year’s festival drew some 50,000 attendees, with this year a similar turnout expected, making it the perfect opportunity to showcase existing properties and launch new ones. Billionaire Jorge Perez’s The Related Group recently announced plans for a new condo towers-hotel combo, branded Hyde Hotel & Residences Midtown Miami. The $130 million project will have 80 hotel rooms and 400 condominiums, and is slated to open in 2016.

Meanwhile, sales duo Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber–known collectively as “The Jills“, who recently announced $500 million in sales for 2013 (after being ranked the top sales duo worldwide in 2012 by the WSJ)–are hosting twilight showings of some of their marquee residential properties. They’ll also be dropping in at targeted parties to network with clients and meet new ones. “This is the busiest time,” Eber says.

Perhaps not coincidentally, in the twelve years since Art Basel Miami first debuted in South Florida, Miami’s luxury real estate scene has exploded. Some 23,000 condos have been built from downtown to Miami Beach, and the toniest ones situated right on the beach are now selling at record prices of $3,200 to $3,300 per square foot, says Shuffield.

As the real estate sponsor of Art Miami in the Wynwood Arts District, one of many side festivals  that has popped up in concert with the main Art Basel activities, Christie’s has a spot in the secondary festival’s big tent along with the galleries and artists. “People can come by our booth and touch the screens, and see what we have available in Paris or Greece, or wherever,” Shuffield says.

Other brokers are looking for clever ways to merge art and architecture with their bottom line. Douglas Elliman, a top firm in New York and Florida, is highlighting its “collection” of penthouses at 10 high-end properties in New York City and Miami Beach,presenting it as an exhibit in a space dubbed the Collectors Lounge. Among the collection: Faena House, an 18-story oceanfront condo tower situated directly on Miami Beach. Designed by British architects Foster+Partners, the residences are part of the grand plan of Argentine developer Alan Faena to reshape mid-Miami Beach. One- to five-bedrooms are priced at $2.5 million to $22 million; the three penthouses higher. Directly across the street from Faena House stands a new cultural arts center designed by the renown Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

ONE Sotheby’s International Realty is promoting One Thousand Museum residences, a curving tower designed by the famed Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. The firm is also repping the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach, which have touches contributed by Italian designer Piero Lissoni. Meanwhile, the firm has launched its own magazine, ONE Life. “It’s a lifestyle magazine that talks about art, architecture, fashion, and trends, including food and chefs,” says Mayi de la Vega, principal at ONE Sotheby’s. “The whole back section is dedicated to our properties. We drop those off in many locations.”

About 40% of all Miami sales now go to internationals. The trend started in the 1960′s, with the arrival of the Cubans, followed in the 1970′s by Venezuelans rich off oil money and the growth of Brickell Avenue, Miami’s answer to New York’s Park Avenue. But the city has really taken off in the last decade, adding ritzy performance centers, one with ties to Juilliard. Jorge Perez’s new art museum opens in January. And Hong Kong’s Swire Properties is building a $1 billion mixed-use development, the Brickell CityCentre complex with office space, a hotel and residences, west of Brickell Avenue.

“Miami has really matured over the last decade as a true international and cultural destination,”says Susan de França, CEO of Douglas Elliman Development. Print advertising to sell homes isn’t what it used to be, she notes. “Thinking out of the box is more important these days in terms of connecting with high net-worth individuals.”

Even a neighborhood historically crime-ridden area more often described as “scary” than “prestigious”–Edgewater, situated north of downtown Miami–is trying to market itself to the richies who land in Miami next week. “The hard sell is convincing you that Edgewater is in the embryonic stage of appreciation,” says real estate marketer Craig Studnicky, of International Salse Group.

To convince the unimpressed, Studnicky convinced four development projects–and their competing developers–to unite for better press. So for four nights of the festival, The Crimson Waterfront Residences, its neighbors the Biscayne Beach Club and Bay House condo projects, and Perez’s Paraiso Bay Miami, will light up the sky with search lights similar to the ones that hit the New York City skyline in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist disaster.

Studnicky plans to send photographers by helicopter over the sites, and then to use the images to bolster the neighborhood’s reputation with his clients with post-festival e-mail blasts.

Just goes to show that Art Basel Miami never dies

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