Monday, December 17, 2012

Livin' Large, Partyin' Hard Before, During Art Basel

The backyard of The Raleigh Hotel. Photos by Neil Wolfson.

HEAD’S UP: It appears we are arriving. For the last couple of years, Neil Wolfson has been threatening to deign to permit his august name to appear on the humble pages of VEVLYN’S PEN. It is our good fortune that the Acerbic One kept a diary this year when he took himself off to the climes of Miami for Art Basel to gawk at “aht” of uneven quality and to drop in on assorted parties to toast the evening with the famous and famously wealthy whom most of us can only hope to read about. To that end, we give you Neil’s Art Basel nightcap.

BY NEIL WOLFSON

SOUTH BEACH, Miami – AFTER
a warmup week partying hard in the rarified reaches of Palm Beach WASPerama, we made our way to South Beach Miami and "Art Basel Miami Beach."

Arriving at the jaw-dropping pad of a Master of the Universe pal in the phallic PortofinoTowers, we settled in and steeled ourselves for the upcoming week of debauchery and art immersion.

Stepping onto Ocean Drive, we were pleased to encounter our friend Ivan Wilzig, the self-proclaimed Peaceman, musician and bon vivant extraordinaire. After exchanging pleasantries, we complimented him on his over-the-top La La Land record release party at his New Jersey Rococo castle in the Hamptons during the summer.

IW invited us to his mother Naomi's World Erotic Art Museum (http://www.weam.com/) for an upcoming opening of a massive Helmut Newton show (through 31 March 2014). He also hinted at a possible Wilzig family reality show that Lionsgate may produce. Honey Boo Boo and the Kardashians beware.

On Tuesday evening, we made our way up Collins Avenue to the art deco district for the pre-opening party for “Art Basel” (http://www.miamibeach.artbasel.com/) at the venerable Raleigh Hotel (http://www.raleighhotel.com/).

Ivan Wilzig, a man of peace.

The Art Basel Miami Beach folks spared no expense at the lavish fete, where high-powered corporate guests rubbed shoulders with artsy unwashed Euro types. Ruinart champagne (does it in fact ruin or enhance art?) flowed endlessly and the 800 guests gorged themselves on Filet mignon, Stone crabs, Lobster, Jumbo shrimp, Coconut-infused grouper crudo, Kumamoto oysters and Key lime tarts.

Davidoff cigars, another festival sponsor, provided air pollution. As if we needed more food, we waddled down Collins in a Champagne haze to the Dream Hotel where primo NYC Italian restaurant Serafina held a grand opening.

All of this and still two days before “Art Basel” actually begins.

‘Art Basel’ Corrals Donna, Calvin & Assorteds

AND so it begins. “Art Basel Miami Beach 2012” brings the worlds of international collectors, dealers, fortune hunters, corporate wonks, Hollywood types and sybarites like us to the Miami Beach Convention Center for the 11th year.

This collision of disparate cultures makes for a heady mix of decadent parties, wheeling and dealing and general social mayhem for a week in a city that sometimes feels like a developing country.

Downing massive quantities of Red Bull to make the early morning opening press reception, we half snoozed to speeches by the self-promoting mayors of Basel and Miami Beach, as well as UBS Wealth Management handlers counseling their Daddy Warbucks clients to invest in contemporary art as a hedge against the end of the world.

After the speechifying, we were served our morning dose of the unfortunately named Ruinart champagne (the official and ubiquitous drink of “Art Basel,” http://www.miamibeach.artbasel.com/).

Calvin is there to support his ex. Donna is there to support … Calvin? Photo by Neil Wolfson.

Now let the games begin with the endless parties, schmoozethons on the floor of the convention center and clusters in the revitalized Wynwood district on the mainland. We attended a swell BMW fete at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden (http:/www.mbgarden.org/) with super cool art cars painted by the likes of Calder, Stella and Rauschenberg. Then it was off to a Ermenegildo Zegna party at the lush garden of the W South Beach where the new Basquiat, Domingo Zapata, flogged his impressive wares.

Under the radar, we stumbled upon a book party for Kelly Klein's "Pools" (http://www.bit.ly/IbJ3vq) in the bookstore at ultra chic The Webster Miami (http://www.thewebstermiami.com/). KK's beard ex-hubby Calvin and his emerging designer pal Donna Karan held court.

Then the Rohypnol kicked in that a lady from Monte Carlo had surreptitiously slipped into my Ruinart. Paint it black.

Kickin’ It w/Diddy, Vlad, Naomi & Other Big Fish

Well, are they all just going to stand there gawking or is somebody gonna cut the cake? Naomi, Vlad, Diddy, Lenny - got a knife on you? Photos by Neil Wolfson.

SOMETIMES the planets align perfectly and we find ourselves in circumstances almost beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. Last night on toney Star Island Miami was one of those rare occasions.

A brief cab ride across the MacArthur Causeway and we arrived at the Niche Media Ocean Drive Magazine party for Art Basel Miami Beach (http://www.miamibeach.artbasel.com/). The former publication of our ever hospitable friend, Jason Binn, rolled out the red carpet for 800 vulgarians from all walks of life.

We fought our way to the sushi bar and were rewarded with toothsome Spicy tuna maki and California rolls. The event had the usual bar mitzvah vibe with an eclectic mix of hucksters, grandmas and aspirational types vying for free food and drink. A band called "Downtown" played credible synth rock dance music and middling Prosecco was served. Disgraced fanatic Ann Coulter was rumored to be in attendance.

Just when it seemed like another fairish Friday, the call came from our Aspen-based buddy to join him down the street for something truly special. Our friend was in negotiations to sell his $42 million, self-designed dream house to Russian oligarch Vladislav Doronin.

It was decided that first the sparklers would be lit, then Vlad would cut the cake. Good plan.

Vlad had just celebrated his 50th with girlfriend and haute mess Naomi Campbell at an ultimate party in Jodhpur, India. Three-hundred friends were flown in from far-flung places.

Not to be outdone, P Diddy decided to throw Vlad a little post-B Day bash for about 250 A-listers at his recently purchased Star Island mega pad. Not since attending Diddy’s legendary first "white party" years ago in the Hamptons have we experienced the moguls awesome hospitality. After clearing tight security (none of the usual “Art Basel" crashers in attendance), we began to notice familiar faces.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, along with her famous derrière, waited with us in the opulent buffet line. Lenny Kravitz and Demi Moore swanned through the beautiful landscape. Scary NYC publicists and promoters made there noxious presence felt.

Diddy proteges Russell Simmons, Missy Elliot and Lil Kim were also gettin’ down. The Didster promoted his flagging Ciroc vodka, as well as poured endless quantities of Veuve Cliquot. The smell of El Supremo permeated the humid night air.

Diddy gallantly toasted Vlad and NC, who was heard to say, "I live in fuckin' Russia now bitches."

At 4 a.m., we made our way off the island and back to dull reality never having to unholster our Glock 9mm.

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