The grand annual party thrown by queen-bee Miami collector Rosa de la Cruz and her husband, Carlos, on Tuesday marked the unofficial first night of the third Art Basel Miami Beach fair. Arriving on a late-afternoon flight, I opted for a shower and a meal of M&Ms in my hotel room, though pre-Rosa dinner options were legion. New York dealer Barbara Gladstone fêted her star artist with a family affair one collector described as a “bar mitzvah for Richard.” The occasion: the display at the Rubell Family Collection infelicitously titled “American Dream: Collecting Richard Prince for 27 Years.” But I especially regretted not having the steam to accompany a friend to an intimate dinner for fifty—and given the melees that so many social events surrounding the fair tend to be, fifty is intimate—that another New York dealer, Andrea Rosen, was giving at Casa Tua, apparently one of the city’s better restaurants. I was told the environment was relaxed and congenial. My friend reported having enjoyed something of an oasis within an oasis thanks to the company of MoMA’s Ann Temkin and SF MoMA’s Madeleine Grynsztejn. The latter was excited about her upcoming Richard Tuttle retrospective, to be accompanied by a massive catalogue documenting the artist’s delicate works.
Rosen, it seems, was generous enough to provide limousines for guests en route to the de la Cruz party in fairly distant Key Biscayne. For me the transportation problem was solved by Bruce Bailey, the Toronto collector. In the spirit of Miamian excess, he had called for a limo that comfortably seated eight; thank God it wasn’t white. The painter Dan Colen and the photographer Dash Snow, an inseparable pair of raffiné artist hooligans, were with us. These boys are always heaps of fun.
The de la Cruz party was, uh, extremely well attended. At the entrance, guests received paper carnivale masks designed by assume vivid astro focusmorsels of cheap, transient party ephemera presumably intended to incorporate the itinerant American and European dealers, curators, and writers and the local rich folk into the expansive, electro-happening surge of the current star of the de la Cruz collection. In addition, several life-size cutouts of Los Super Elegantes’ Milena Muzquiz and Martiniano Lopez-Crozet striking louche poses were scattered about the grounds, a reminder that, originally at least, part of avaf’s installation on the second floor of casa de la Cruz was to have served as a set for an LSE concert that very night. Although Muzquiz and Lopez-Crozet attended the party, LSE was most present in its absence—a fact the cutouts only underscored. The concert had been cancelled days beforehand, and there was considerable speculation as to why. One suggestion: Mrs. de la Cruz was nervous about having a “rock band” performing in her house. If so, the famously generous collector certainly didn’t let on as she bafflingly alerted guests that Los Super Elegantes would soon be taking the stage. (They never did.)
Pre-Rosa-dinner hostess-with-the-mostess Rosen, resplendent in a silver-sequined sheath, seemed utterly transfixed by the spectacle of the skinniest of skinny-hipped hoola-hooped dancing boys. Given the scores of roving dealers, I was impressed by her refreshing lack of mercantile single-mindedness. My personal highlight of the evening: Elizabeth Berkley, star of the 1980s sitcom Saved by the Bell and superstar of Paul Verhoeven’s absurdly underrated tour de force Showgirls, looking fabulous in a clinging pink gown that featured some truly startling décolletage. Once I sat next to Meryl Streep at a dinner party; she struck me as a nice lady. But I couldn’t take my eyes off Miss Berkley. I wear my aesthetic allegiances proudly. (The next day, by happenstance, I attended an opening in the Design District for Greg Lauren, Ralph’s nephew and Berkley’s husband. I asked her what she thought of the de la Cruz party. “Well, anyone who is so passionate about what she does is amazing. With some of her art, you respond to it even if you don’t really get it at first.” True. I praised Berkley for her virtually career-killing role in Showgirls. “That was such a daring, out-there performance, and everyone ripped you to shreds for it, but you were genius,” I rhapsodized. “I wish I could take you around the Hollywood studios and have you tell them what you just told me,” she answered.)
But as the evening wore on, and on, and on, the party, which I had enjoyed for some hours in high spirits, began to take a difficult, not to say sour turn, as taxis, cars, and limousines clogged the driveway. Egress was exceedingly painful. “Reminds me of my favorite novel, Day of the Locust,” a ne plus ultra art-world insider said, laughing. Bruce Bailey’s car was two hours late picking us up, and when we finally found it, we couldn’t locate Dan and Dash. Dash turned up eventually, but Dan was still making it happen at the party. Shortly after we managed our escape, I learned later, the police escorted Mr. Colen out of the de la Cruz compound. A dealer with his ear to the ground said the trouble started when Mrs. de la Cruz vociferously objected to Dan and Dash having sat down on the lawn; she reportedly yelled, “This isn’t Woodstock!” Assorted contretemps were rumored: something about hitting on the hostess’s daughter? On local matrons with jealous husbands? Things, in any event, apparently began to get hairy.
The next night I caught up with Dan and Dash at another soirée. I was surprised to see Dan, since I had thought he’d been hauled off in the paddy wagon the night before. But on the contrary, he seemed to have made some influential new friends. “The next morning,” he told me, “Dean Valentine”—UPN chairman and indefatigable collector—“called me up and said, ‘You’re my new hero.’”