The Ten Types of People at Art Basel Who Aren’t Really Here for the Art

Miami New Times

Sorry, Michael Bay, we know you didn't come to Basel for the artwork.

The New Yorker Who’d Feel Left Out Otherwise
Where he’s staying: On the floor of his friend’s Airbnb.
Favorite artist: The friend who is renting the Airbnb.
Drug of choice: Cocaine.
On the list?: He’ll spend the better part of the week trying to be.

Unless they’ve already reached “Ugh, I’m soooooooo over it” status, just about any New Yorker who is anyone will be in town this week. Which means that every New Yorker who aspires to anyone status tries to finagle some excuse to be down here as well.

And sometimes they’re actually really, really nice and go with the flow. Sometimes they’re absolute monsters who spend the entire week trying to track down the best parties, the best open bars, and the best coke. Their entire demeanor can give off a vibe of, “Um, excuse me, I live in America’s best city, and last I checked, this is a second-tier American city at best. Please treat me like royalty.”

Which brings us to our next entry on the list.

The Coke Dealer 
Where he’s staying: His South Beach apartment.
Favorite artist: Mr. Brainwash
Drug of choice: He doesn’t get high on his own supply, so weed, usually.
On the list?: Whenever someone powerful inside really, really needs him to be.

If you’re a South Florida coke dealer and this isn’t your best week of the year, well, you’re probably not cut out for the job.

In 2013, Vice interviewed an anonymous Miami drug dealer who pretty much summed up the week like this: “I don’t know what it is about New Yorkers, but they are all cokeheads. New Yorkers pay the most for the worst shit, so it’s easy to impress them.”

It’s a week full of rich people getting little sleep and trying to attend five parties in a night. Basically, coke dealers are Walmart, and this is their Black Friday.

The Marketing and PR Corps 
Where they’re staying: A boutique South Beach hotel.
Favorite artist: Warhol
Drug of choice: Influence
On the list?: They make the list.

Do you think that party list you’re not on just made itself? Do you think you’re getting free drinks out of the goodness of a giant corporation’s heart? Do you think that step-and-repeat printed itself? No, darling. Some boutique marketing firm has spent months planning this shindig all so their clients get the best possible exposure, and now all those marketing assistants are down here wielding the power of headsets and clipboards, deciding if you actually get past the velvet rope or not.

The Incessant Networker 
Where he’s staying: Whichever hotel where he knows a guy who could get him 15 percent off.
Favorite artist: Whichever one you like.
Drug of choice: Adderall. Can’t miss any opportunity to network.
On the list?: Every single one he possible could be on.

You know what’s actually a more prized collectable than art at Art Basel? Contacts, and the incessant networker is here to schmooze his way to glory.

Like a museum curator glances at a piece of art to decide if it’s of interest, the Networker glances at people trying to decide if they can be of value to them. If you happen to be useful, well, congratulations, you’ve won yourself 30 minutes of horrible small talk, a business card with their personal cell phone number written in pen on it, and almost assuredly an e-mail asking you for a favor during next year’s Basel.

The Spouse- (or Sugar Daddy-) Seeker 
Where she’s staying: Hopefully not at the hotel they actually booked, if all goes according to plan.
Favorite artist: Secretly, Anne Geddes.
Drug of choice: Well, she always has some Viagra on her. Just not for herself.
On the list?: No, but that won’t stop her.

Some people dream of true love. Others dream of catching the kind of partner who has more money than he knows what do with. Which is exactly the type of person who packs into Art Basel.

A special subset of this variety: the former spouse- or sugar daddy-seeker who is now enjoying the fruits of her catch.

The Functioning Alcoholic 
Where he’s staying: Wherever he passes out that night.
Favorite artist: Has a coffee table of old Absolut Vodka ads. That counts, right?
Drug of choice: Duh.
On the list?: Only if the invitation specified an open bar.

There isn’t an intervention scheduled just yet, but you know you’re fooling no one by masking your love of the hooch as a love of the arts.

The Curious Local 
Where he’s staying: Kendall
Favorite artist: Britto
Drug of choice: Life
On the list?: Of course not.

You know what? Sometimes you’re a bit embarrassing, but we love you, curious local! This is your fucking city, and you have every right to go out and enjoy its fanciest week. In fact, please go ahead and annoy every other type of person this list and have a good time doing it!

The Returning Native
Where he’s staying: Mom’s house originally, but he’ll end up crashing on your couch.
Favorite artist: Jen Stark and Friends With You
Drug of choice: He doesn’t do drugs anymore. OK, maybe just a little.
On the list?: In Wynwood? Definitely. In South Beach? Maybe.

For some Miamians, Basel has reached near-holiday status, and even those who have moved away can’t help but find a way to return every year. They’re the kind of people who have been crashing Basel parties since before they could legally drink and remember Wynwood when it was the type of place where you might get stabbed instead of get a smoothie. You’re almost guaranteed to run into someone you haven’t seen since that time seven years ago at Revolver.

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