On Art Basel’s First Day, Sales Roll In and the Art World Breathes A Sigh of Relief

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On Tuesday, the first day of VIP previews for the bellwether Art Basel fair in Switzerland, several dealers admitted they had waited with bated breath for how the day would turn out amid the apparent market slowdown—or “correction,” as it has often been called.

“We were all waiting. We were watching the auctions very intently, and they did well. We didn’t know how this was going to go,” Samanthe Rubell, the president of Pace, told ARTnews.

Art Basel CEO Noah Horowitz, similarly, noted the art market’s “period of recalibration” and the atmosphere of caution these days. However, he told ARTnews that the energy of the crowd on Art Basel’s first day was evidence that “the market is very much still here, and very strong.”

Horowitz may not be far off. By the end of Tuesday, it was apparent that not only had the worst been averted, but there was enough sales activity to consider the day successful. Dealers told ARTnews with some surprise that, unlike previous years, more purchases were made in-person, rather via presale PDFs, suggesting a real desire to experience artworks in person and all that the fair and its surroundings have to offer.

Perhaps the most direct, and colorful, message about the market’s resilience was sent to press by Hauser & Wirth cofounder Iwan Wirth. ...


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On Art Basel’s First Day, Sales Roll In and the Art World Breathes A Sigh of Relief