On Saturday in Palm Beach, I walked into a restaurant called Cucina, on Royal Poinciana Way, in the middle of the mile-wide island and steps from the ocean. I was there with a fellow New Yorker who works as a vice president at a large auction house. It was a little past midnight, and although there were many visitors to town for the gala dinner at collectors’ houses Bill wrigley and Sue Hostetler WrigleyâThe highlight of New Wave Art Weekend, where local outposts of global mega-galleries and masterpiece-packed private collections put on their biggest shows of the year â Cucina was the only place to take a look. glass at that time. Palm Beach Island has a lot of things, including over 40 billionaire residents, but there aren’t many places to grab a late-night beer.
Cucina had beer and tequila shots, a DJ spinning Ying Yang twins, bottle service on elevated tables, and women walking through the air holding bubbles in the air with sparklers. It was 1 OAK for the descendants of the beach tycoons. But it became increasingly clear that this wasn’t just a bunch of rich, tipsy white kids. Many of Cucina’s bow-tie, dancing gentlemen – who, as I’ve discovered, only refer to the restaurant by its first syllable, stay chic – had attended the other important gathering of the night in town: a Turning Point Action Christmas gala nine minutes down the road in Mar-a-Lago, with a special appearance by Donald trump himself.
Such a collision between the art world and the Trump world was inevitable in Palm Beach. In recent years, the small town with an extremely wealthy population has turned into a somewhat unlikely center of gravity for the art world, as a dozen New York galleries have moved to the Royal Poinciana Plaza, where the outpost of Sant Ambroeus makes any homesick gallery girl feel right at home or among the designer boutiques of Worth Avenue.
Expansion to the south was necessary. When the pandemic struck, collectors permanently moved into second homes in Palm Beach, and dealers set up camp in perhaps the wealthiest beach town in the world. By the time the snowbird season arrived in late 2020, Sotheby’s, Pace Gallery and Paula Cooper had all reclaimed space. This year, they were joined a few weeks ago by LÃ©vy Gorvy, Lehmann Maupin, the last flagship outpost of Christie’s.
“There is so much potential,” said Dylan Brant, an art dealer and advisor who opened a space on ritzy Worth Avenue with his partner StÃ©phane Timonier last year during the pandemic. âIt’s the most interesting place in the country right now to cultivate collectors.
Founder of New Wave Art Wknd Sarah gavlak opened his eponymous Palm Beach gallery years before the current wave of new arrivals, and said it gave New York galleries a chance to understand that Palm Beach could be a place for a permanent gallery, not just a getaway from weekend in winter.
âI’ve been saying this for years, but for some reason the other galleries weren’t paying attention: it’s a big community of collectors,â Gavlak said, âAnd then it was COVID and so the people were opening pop-ups in the Hamptons and Aspen â and Palm Beach it was the same. They weren’t doing that in 2005, but that’s okay. Maybe the intention was, well , we don’t do art fairs and nobody comes to galleries in New York, so we have to go.
At the same time, there is the question of the general ambience of the city, which makes it a somewhat incongruous place for such a tonnage of contemporary art. The former president has been fairly active in the Mar-a-Lago courthouse for the past 11 months – the now-sighted former Marjorie Merriweather Post Golf Course is now Trump’s legal residence and workplace. In recent weeks he has met with North Carolina candidates for House and Senate races, posing with the newly acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse in front of a photo of Trump approaching Kim jong un at the DMZ, discussed football with the Alabama Secretary of State, and hosted a gala for the Republicans at Log Cabin. (Sean Parnell, the Pennsylvania Senate candidate who was accused by his ex-wife of strangling her and hitting one of their children, was to have a fundraising event in Mar-a-Lago before to suspend his campaign at the end of November. Parnell has denied all of the allegations.)
28 year old man Charlie kirk– who started Turning Point USA in 2012 with the aim of building support for Republicans among younger siblings on conservative campuses and who became a Trump little dog factory in the 2016 election – is hosting a winter gala there for several years. . In 2020, undeterred by the global pandemic, Kirk charged attendees $ 2,000 to come to Mar-a-Lago just so they could without mask next to Kayleigh mcenany and Governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem.
As Kirk’s sidekicks began appearing for this year’s edition on Saturday, the Baselgoers were arriving in droves from Miami, many via the Brightline bullet train. (Public transport. How scenic!) The first stop was West Palm, for the opening at the Bunker, Beth Rudin DeWoodyIt’s a private museum where it houses some of the more than 10,000 works in its collection, often organized in mini-exhibitions throughout the space. One memorable piece brought together puppets and puppet-themed artwork, and another brought together all of the creature artworkâTom sachs rats made from Balthazar wrappers, a John Wesley painting of two pigs, a drawing by Milton Avery of a tasty looking fish. Cocktails were flowing in the courtyard, but many rushed to the island, where on Worth Avenue, Brant and Timonier had just minutes before opening an exhibit that featured paintings by Karen kilimnik with historic couture dresses belonging to the model Stephanie Seymour, who is Brant’s mother.