On the second VIP day of Art Basel Miami Beach on Thursday, Pace Gallery’s chief executive Marc Glimcher, one of the world’s most powerful art dealers, was seen palling around with the third wealthiest person in the world, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (net worth: $169 billion), and his fiancée Lauren Sanchez.
A triple dose of power and influence was achieved when Glimcher, who was escorting Bezos and Sanchez around the fair, stopped at the Gagosian booth to talk shop with the gallery’s Hong Kong director Nick Siminuvic.
Bezos and Sanchez moved to Miami earlier this year, and art dealers from the convention center to the mainland have been waiting, with baited breath and crossed fingers, to see if the state’s wealthiest couple would turn up for the Art Week bonanza. The couple had already been named as hosts of the FIRST Inspire Gala at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel on Thursday (honoring former XEROX CEO Ursula Burns, with will.i.am as special guest). But, until they were seen promenading with Glimcher, their presence at the fair was in question.
Glimcher has been surrounded by celebrities for the better part of the last twenty-four hours. Last night’s Pace Gallery dinner at COTE Miami was cohosted by none other than tennis legend Venus Williams.
Flouting decades of tradition, Glimcher and company forwent the long tables that are a staple of gallery-hosted dinners, instead opting for the restaurant’s black booths. The whole place was chic, as if the intimate, 100-seat restaurant had slipped on a little black dress before the event. The dining room was dimly lit, with pops of color provided by paintings by Rinus Van de Velde and Raymond Pettibon hung high on the walls.
For about an hour before dinner, top tier collectors, sports team owners, athletes, and artists mingled around the thick white marble bar. Former Chelsea and Bayern midfielder Michal Ballack was in attendance, as was tennis pro and art collector Reilly Opelka. New York Giants co-owner Laurie Tisch, Olympia Gayot, the creative director and head of design at J.Crew, David Macklovitch, the well-read lead singer of Chromeo, and Whitney director Scott Rothkopf were also in attendance. Serena Williams, Venus’s sister and fellow champion, even made an appearance, albeit a short one.
Lest one be overwhelmed by such celebrity, it’s important to remember that the rich and famous are really just like regular folk. Shortly after Venus Williams arrived, looking celestial in a short black dress peppered with constellations, she was overheard saying the one phrase that unites everyone in Miami during Art Week: “Wasn’t the traffic just awful on the way here?”
During an introductory speech, Glimcher, who wore a blue suit, sneakers, and a pressed white shirt open enough to reveal a tuft of chest hair, thanked the artists in attendance, among whom were market darlings like Hank Willis Thomas, Alejandro Piñeiro Bello, and Alicja Kwade, who joined the gallery in October. “Congratulations Alicja, your first official debut in the booth,” Glimcher said. “Oh! So exciting, you’ve already caused a small amount of bloodshed in the booth today.” He also thanked Venus Williams for her support of a gala benefit in May with Adam Pendleton that raised $6 million to help save Nina Simone’s childhood home.
Throughout the evening, Glimcher cheerfully walked from booth to booth, checking in on his guests as they watched servers cook cubes of aged waygu steak on gleaming tabletop grills installed in each booth. For those that stumbled their way through art week fueled only by Mezcal, the protein and probiotic-rich pickled side dishes were a nutrient-dense shot in the arm. “Isn’t this so much better than those long tables?” he said at one booth.
A spokesperson for Pace said they couldn’t comment on Glimcher and Bezos’s relationship or what, if anything, the billionaire purchased. Still, they spent a few hours together at the fair, so from that, glean what you will.