East End Real Estate Agents Flew South for Art Basel Miami Beach: ‘A Rainbow After a Long Storm’

Art Basel, Kelly Killoren Bensimon
Douglas Elliman agent and former “Real Housewives of New York City” star Kelly Bensimon, third from left, at “A Toast to Artful Living” during Art Basel.
Courtesy of Douglas Elliman

Art, design and real estate came together at Art Basel in Miami Beach earlier this month and East End agents flocked to Florida for the festivities.

Two hundred and fifty-four of the world’s leading international modern and contemporary art galleries presented artworks across all mediums, from painting and sculpture to photography and digital works. The art fair took place from December 2 to December 4 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Palmer Gaget, a salesperson in Douglas Elliman’s Westhampton Beach office, said it was “a joy” to return to Miami and Art Basel after last year’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Strict COVID-19 protocols and proof of vaccination checks were securely in place, which put us at ease to enjoy the art and events,” she said.

For the eighth year, Douglas Elliman Development Marketing returned as a show partner and the firm showcased “its bespoke collection of exceptional properties within the Collectors Lounge, exclusively reserved for Art Basel’s VIP guests,” Douglas Elliman said in a statement.

Douglas Elliman’s lounge was furnished by Molteni, a leading Italian designer furniture company. The gallery also unveiled a custom-designed hanging floral installation with at least 2,500 fresh-cut peonies “creating an ethereal and enchanting ambiance.”

Douglas Elliman’s Collectors Lounge at Art BaselCourtesy of Douglas Elliman

Properties featured inside Douglas Elliman Development Marketing’s Lounge included several Manhattan properties, as well. Among them was 53 West 53, a Midtown Manhattan property with architecture by Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel and interiors by the legendary Thierry Despont, the Brooklyn Tower, developed by JDS Development Group and designed by SHoP Architects, and The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, a contemporary collection of studio to penthouse residences atop the Park Avenue hotel.

“It was wonderful to be able to reunite with our Elliman family and visit some spectacular new developments. The market is hot, hot, hot, and the general mood was convivial and jovial.” Gaget says. As for the art, Gaget says it was “as amazing and plentiful,” and she spotted “many artists standing by proudly (some incognito), as they watched their fans and patrons admire the works.”

Some real estate highlights included a showing of the $24 million offering on the 54th floor of 1000 Museum, a Zaha Hadid building with astonishing 360-degree views from sunrise to sunset. “We could see the Bahamas from the terrace!” she said.

Palmer Gaget and Jean-Marc Zarka, both agents in Douglas Elliman’s Westhampton Beach office, traveled to Miami Beach for Art Basel and took in not only the art, but lots of real estate too.Courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate

There was a Champagne brunch at Five Park, a new development about to break ground, hosted by Douglas Elliman chairman Howard M. Lorber, chief executive officer Scott Durkin, president/CEO of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing Susan de França and Jay Parker, chief executive officer of the Elliman’s Florida region and president of Elliman’s Development Marketing in Florida.

“The parties were plentiful, safely conducted and inspiring,” she continued. “A standout was Chanel’s 100-year anniversary of its iconic No. 5 fragrance. The celebration was truly awe-inspiring, with one hundred drones lighting the sky, creating several illuminated formations of iconic Chanel logos and even Coco’s visage lit up the night sky. It was truly a celebration. I’m so happy and grateful that I was able to attend.”

Enzo Morabito, a well-known East End broker, hosted his own cocktail party at The Palms in Miami Beach with some of Elliman’s top Florida agents, clients and friends. “It was so great to see everyone after a year off,” he said.

Cindy Scholz of the Hudson Advisory Team and a broker at Compass agreed the return after one year off due to the pandemic was a welcome one. “Basel always brings the energy, however, this year there is an undeniable theme of hope, prosperity and appreciation for entrepreneurship,” she said.

Cindy Scholz of Compass with a friend at Art Basel.

“I attended an event the other night where Mayor Suarez addressed an intimate crowd and shared a quote that resonated with him from an interview with Jack Abraham: ‘Miami is filled with optimism. Optimism is a key ingredient for innovation.’ Basel is highlighting to the world of innovation happening in Miami.”

Sholtz said she was grateful to be back for “one the most epic art event in the world. It’s been wonderful to connect with new clients and deepen connections with friends.”

This year’s “felt like witnessing a rainbow after a long storm,” said Jean-Marc Zarka, who also works out of the Westhampton Beach office. “There were so many colorful, beautiful works of art, and so many colorful, beautiful people wearing the most fashionable clothes, who came from all over the world to see these gorgeous art exhibits and attend the sophisticated parties. It seemed that for a week, the Magic City was surrounded by beauty and elegance under a giant rainbow.”

“Synergies in art, design and real estate continue to elevate global property offerings and it is a privilege to return to Art Basel Miami Beach ​to showcase our unparalleled portfolio of luxury developments,” said Susan de França, President/CEO of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing ahead of the event. “These exceptional homes with stunning interiors and architecture by renowned designers such as Jean-Louis Deniot and Thierry Despont, are designed for the most discerning clientele.” 

Douglas Elliman’s Enzo Morabito, center, at the cocktail party he threw with Howard M. Lorber, Elliman’s executive chairman, and other top Elliman agents, including Maria Babaev, Louise Pitlake and Seth Pitlake.Courtesy of Enzo Morabito, Douglas Elliman

Elliman magazine, Douglas Elliman’s luxury lifestyle and real estate publication, also debuted its eighth annual art issue with the cover spotlighting a Hollywood home.

“We are thrilled to be returning to Art Basel Miami Beach to present our global portfolio and Elliman magazine,” said Durkin. “In this special art issue, we are celebrating the art of home within our nationwide markets including New York City, Long Island, the Hamptons, Westchester, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, Colorado and California.” 

“The excitement of Art Basel was felt throughout Miami as people looked forward to attending events in person again,” said Nikola Cejic, who works out of Elliman’s East Hampton office. “This was my first Art Basel in Florida, and participating in it was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. After the shutdown, it was such a great feeling to reconnect and see everyone in the same place. At Art Basel, it didn’t matter if you were in the art industry or just appreciate art like myself, everyone was just happy to talk to each other! My favorite moment was getting a chance to talk to one of the Village People members, which shows how spontaneous Miami Art Basel truly is!”

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