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Art On The Beach By Sunshine Flint

The art world puts on a sunny face as Art Basel Miami Beach, gets underway….

Art Basel Miami Beach
Chuck Close. Self-Portrait, 2007.

Art sales may be suffering in the current economic crisis, but Art Basel Miami Beach still remains one of the most important events on the international art calendar, an event that dealers and collectors can’t miss. More than 250 galleries and the world’s top dealers will be exhibiting works from 20th and 21st-century artists at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The fair draws a range of galleries from leading lights like PaceWildenstein to small but important bit players like Alexander Gray Associates. The fair was set to double its space in the convention center, but that was a commitment made before the current credit crunch and a frightening dip in sales at recent auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York.

The fair’s sponsors, including main sponsor UBS, have drawn down many of their parties and events. Even if some, like the Cipriani Ocean Resort, are still hosting VIP lounges and cocktail parties for fair-goers, it’s generally agreed that there will more dealing than wheeling, and even that will be lighter than in years past. Some of the satellite exhibits that popped up in recent years will be smaller or have been cancelled altogether. “The fair will be just as good, but it will be a shrunken scene, and won’t be as glittering,” says Brook S. Mason, US correspondent for The Art Newspaper and a columnist for Artnet. “A percentage of dealers would prefer not to be there, but have to for contractual reasons.”

Aside from the main fair, Mason says Art Positions, where 20 young galleries are set up right on the beach, is worth checking out for the affordable pieces and challenging emerging artists. Design Miami will be held in a large tent in the Miami Design District and has expanded from 14 to 40 dealers. One exhibitor, Banners of Persuasion, is an exciting project from The Rug Company founders, who invited respected international artists who usually work in paint or sculpture or three-dimensions to translate their work into tapestries. “I think tapestries will be the modern trend,” says Mason. “They resonate in that they are traditional and yet contemporary, and have a lot of wall power at a fraction of the price of a painting.” PaceWildenstein will have a Chuck Close tapestry on their stand; he has been earning raves for his jacquard tapestries made from his photographic portraits of Kate Moss and others. Other work that Mason sees as appealing are from artists who “tap into the short side of life” such as Feliz Gonzalez-Torres, or works that are have strong green and environmental messages. “I think you’ll see more use of wood and an uptake in sales with pieces about the way that green works,” she says. Either way, the show must go on. “The plan is to just keep going.”

Formula 1 Takes To The Runway By The Luxury Channel

The annual Amber Fashion Show in Monaco saw F1 drivers take to the catwalk to model for charity….

Amber Fashion Show

Formula One swapped the roar of the engines for the clinking of cocktail glasses in Monaco this week for the MARTINI® sponsored Amber Fashion Show at the luxurious Le Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel.

Stars from the world of sport, film and fashion joined Royalty at the annual Amber Fashion Show. Sir Richard Branson, Olympic track legend Michael Johnson, tennis ace Boris Becker and Little Britain comedy star David Walliams were among the glittering guest list who joined HSH Prince Albert.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone led the star-studded names from the sport along with reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, current title pacesetter Jenson Button, Giancarlo Fisichella, Adrian Sutil, Mark Webber, Nelson Piquet, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

It was a family affair for Bernie Ecclestone with daughter Petra, as the leading championship contender Jenson Button swapped the track for the catwalk to model her latest FORM range of menswear.

It was then the turn of the F1 wives, girlfriends and daughters (pictured above) to add their touch of glamour to the evening. Jenson Buttons’ girlfriend Jessica Michibata was joined by Heikki Kovalainen’s partner Catherine Hyde and the Amber Lounge founder Sonia Irvine who, alongside a host of supermodels, then paraded around the hotel’s swimming pool overlooking the Cote D’Azur in Elizabeth Hurley Beach swimwear and show designer Jimmy Choo’s latest collection.

Actress and model Elizabeth Hurley, never one to shy from the cameras, was on hand, with her husband Arun Nayar, to ensure her swimwear range got the best exposure.

Celebrity auctioneer Charlie Ross then sold a Morocco-inspired bar to Prince Albert for a winning bid of 10,000 Euros, whilst Martini’s global brand ambassador Giuseppe Gallo Giuseppe used his cocktail-making skills to mix a drink for American beauty Jessiqa Pace.

The biggest winning bid of the event was 145,000 Euros for an intimate dinner for ten people with Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish at their villa in the South of France.

Organised by Sonia Irvine, founder of Amber Lounge and sister of F1 legend Eddie Irvine, the annual event raised 340,000 Euros for the Elton John Aids Foundation.

Shine On You Coloured Diamond By Sunshine Flint

Move over white – diamonds in rainbow hues are now on everyone’s wish list!


The Hope Diamond is probably the most famous coloured diamond in the world. The gray-blue stone (and its infamous curse) is sequestered inside the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. But there are many other coloured diamonds on the open market, and they’re increasing popular, both as something to wear and something to invest in.

The sheer rarity of coloured diamonds has made them incredibly desirable today — in fact, they command the highest prices at jewellery auctions. From engagement rings to collar necklaces, fancy, or coloured, diamonds are now in high demand by everyone who can afford them. That list includes Hollywood celebrities, Russian oligarchs, Saudi princes and regular consumers who want something special. And jewellers have taken notice. Diamonds in every shade are getting the royal treatment from princess to marquise cuts, with pieces coming from all quarters, from avant garde designers like Theo Fennell to conglomerate De Beers.

If a flawless, white diamond is a rare thing, a flawless, coloured diamond is even rarer. Only one in every 10,000 diamonds is a coloured stone, and only 4,000 carats are available on the world market at any one time. Traces of boron turn a diamond blue, while nitrogen creates yellow stone. A flawless red diamond is practically non-existent. That’s why the Moussaieff Red, a 5.11 carat diamond and one of only five graded in the world, is worth more than $20 million.

Following red in order of rarity are orange, green, blue, pink and yellow, yellow being the most widely available and thus the most affordable. Now brown diamonds are the latest to strike collectors and jewellers’ fancy. They run the gamut from golden champagne to deep cognac. “There is an interesting trend towards yellow and light, golden colours which are warm and sympathetic and need not stretch one’s pocket,” says jewellery designer Theo Fennell. “They also can lend themselves to more original designs than traditional white.”

Graff, considered one of the best jewellers in the world and subject of our programme The King of Diamonds, has 60 percent of the world’s yellow diamonds – in 2006, they sold the Golden Maharaja (65.57 carats) and the Rojtman Diamond (107.46 carats). They say they have seen rising interest from customers in yellow, pink and cognac diamonds.

Yellow diamonds have always been popular, especially in the US, according to De Beers, and pink diamonds have really come on in the past few years. They appeal to connoisseurs and collectors – maybe for a special occasion, such as a wedding anniversary. “There are so many variations in the pink and blue shades: lilac pink, baby pink, grey-blue, pale blue….not all of them are that rare, but each is certainly unique,” says a spokeswoman for the company. “Clients are looking for a stone of character.”

It’s that character that has made coloured diamonds so popular in retail and for collectors. Individuals can therefore choose the shade and hue that best fits their personality, their wardrobe and their mood. Would you expect anything less?

A Good Time For A Good Cause By James Gurney

This year’s Only Watch charity auction is a must-see for watch lovers and collectors. James Gurney, the editor of QP Magazine, finds out why….

Only Watch Auction

The London preview of the bi-annual Only Watch auction was held last week at Asprey, and showcased 34 truly unique watches from some of the world’s best makers, from Audemars Piguet to Zénith International. The preview was attended by Luc Pettavino, founder of the auction and managing director of the Monaco Yacht Show, and Osvaldo Patrizzi, CEO of Patrizzi & Co auctioneers and watch expert, as well as many collectors and buyers.

Only Watch has quickly become one of the most important events on the watch industry calendar. While its primary purpose is to raise funds for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the auction has acquired another role: presenting a snapshot of the industry that captures the trends and designs of today.

The participation of established houses such as Breguet and Patek Philippe and the patronage of Prince Albert of Monaco, as well as the simplicity of the pièces unique format make Only Watch a perfect platform for watch companies to show their health and creativity. Each contributing company makes a single watch, and this year’s vintage has plenty of flavour. MB&F’s partnership with Californian artist Page Vaughn transforms what is an already interesting watch into an object that both explores the area where watch-making and art meet, and creates a genuinely emotional response to the disease.

Jaquet Droz and Louis Vuitton, who collaborated with Pettavino’s disabled son Paul, used the auction to create watches that move beyond their usual brand limitations to jolt the viewer with a new perspective. Still others use the event to launch a new direction or to mark a milestone – this year sees TAG Heuer’s V-4 project finally realised as a watch for sale after years of concept status, while Chaumet’s Dandy quietly proclaims a new, more horological ambition for the brand.

The watches will be previewed in Milan at the Pisa Orologeria, and the auction will take place in Monte Carlo during the Monaco Yacht Show.