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A VIP Look At The Hustle & Bustle Of Art Basel

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It's not Black Friday or a door buster sale. In fact there are no steals or deals at Art Basel.

Instead the packed in crowd was for the first choice VIP preview of the world's most important contemporary art fair. With 267 galleries from 31 countries around the world, this 2014 edition of Art Basel is bigger than ever.

"This is the most important art fair in the U.S. We have clients that come from all over the U.S., Europe and even China" said Janis Gardner Cecil, director of Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Arts in New York.

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Cecil showed CBS4's Lisa Petrillo some of the most coveted pieces at the gallery.

An original painting by James Rosenquist, stretching more than 20-feet long, was on sale for $1.8 million. Rosenquist's works are mainly shown in art museums.

But art at Basel comes in many shapes, sizes and price ranges.

New York based photographer Diane Tuft had landscape photographs from Antarctica starting at just over $6000.

"I'm just so excited that my work was chosen to be here. I think it deserves it and I'm so happy," said Tuft.

"Contemporary art is great because anything can be considered art. A few Slinkies strung to together and hung on wall sold as soon as the doors opened today for $85,000," said Su Bridge.

Celebrities were on hand as well.

Award winning director Baz Luhrmann, with such films as the Great Gatsby and Romeo and Juliet, helped draw crowds from Switzerland to the gallery.

"I live Basel. It's just fun. People say this or that about it, but the bottom line is Basel is just fun," said Luhrmann.

Leonardo DiCaprio, who played the role of Gatsby, was also at the event.

American rapper, record producer, actor and entrepreneur Sean Combs a.k.a. P. Diddy was back at Basel again. This time he brought a rather large entourage.

Designer Tommy Hilfiger, a new South Florida resident who recently bought the Raleigh Hotel, was happy to shop and socialize.

"I am collector, so this is just the best show in the world. It's where you can shop under one roof and see the most important pieces from the best artists," said Hilfiger.

While many gallery attendees are enjoying the atmosphere in style, its South Florida's business that are reaping the rewards. Especially on Miami Beach, where Art Basel paints the brightest picture.

"We love Basel. We can't wait for it every year. It's become a real cornerstone of who Miami Beach is," said Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine.


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