Traffic jam sand sculpture, Art Basel Miami Beach Kicks Off With VIP Preview.

Art Basel is back. The world-renowned art show kicked off with a private, VIP preview Wednesday.

Some of the richest art dealers, collectors, celebrities, and media gathered at the Miami Beach Convention Center to see what Art Basel’s 18th edition has to offer.

“Well, there are 269 galleries with work that goes from the 1990’s to right now,” said Art Basel’s Global Director Mark Spiegler. “I would say wear comfortable shoes, stay hydrated, and don’t see it one fell swoop.”

Art Basel ranks as the premier art show of the Americas offering a platform for renowned artists and galleries.

Miami billionaire businessman and avid art collector Norman Braman says this fair just keep getting better and better.

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“I think the quality has improved remarkably over the early years. It has amazed me, the quality of art that is here,” Braman said.

There are works from the kings of contemporary art such as Henri Matisse, Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso.

The artwork of more than 4,000 artists are on display, including paintings, sculptures, installations, photography, film, video, and digital art.

Brand new this year is a section called Meridians. It is on the second floor in the convention center’s new 60,000 square-foot Grand Ballroom.

It’s overseen by Mexico City-based curator Magalí Arriola, and it’s for large scale, oversized installations only.

Some works stand out while others are proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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At Gagosian, one of the leading galleries around the world, art lovers jam pack the space. CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo asked Gagosian’s COO Andrew Fabricant if he’s had any sales as of lunch time on this VIP preview day.

“There have been sales already. We also have preview a few days before, so we have sales even before the doors open to the fair,” he said.

Fashion runs the gamut, with some choosing to wear their love for art on their sleeves, literally. Wednesday’s attendees may attend other shows this week, but Art Basel is their number one.

“There’s a lot of shows in Miami Beach but there’s only one Art Basel. It’s the best of the best and everything is interesting you don’t see anything you’ve ever seen before,” said Miami-based collector Alan Lieberman.

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“I’m just trying to get a feel for the show. And the people watching is almost as good as the art maybe even better,” said potential buyer Georgeanna Ballou.

It’s another year of Miami Beach and South Florida shining bright in the international spotlight once again.

“I just met somebody from Beijing who is here. They are here from all over the world. Every major museum, collectors, curators. They’re all here,” said Braman.

Art Basel Miami Beach cost $45-$65 daily, $145 for four-day passes and $500 for VIP. Hours are 3-8 p.m. Dec. 5, noon-8 p.m. Dec. 6-7 and noon-6 p.m. Dec. 8.


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