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47th edition Elite buyers flock to Art Basel despite uncertainty

Europe’s premiere art fair for contemporary and modern works has been getting underway in Basel this week against the backdrop of an uncertain economic climate.

Collectors at Art Basel, with an estimated CHF3.25 billion ($3.4 billion) of work on view, have been snatching up high-priced canvases despite an international slowdown in art sales. Major auctions in London and New York recently saw their sales levels fall sharply from previous years.

Some of the world’s biggest galleries nonetheless shipped dozens of art works to Art Basel that are valued into the tens of millions, such as Jackson Pollock’s drip painting Number 21, 1949 (1949), listed at $25 million, and Gerhard Richter’s abstract canvas Prag 1883, offered for $20 million.

Dealers often save some of their best works for the fair, which emphasises sales and marketing. Representatives from some 300 public and private museums confirmed their attendance.

The overcrowded fair attracts billionaires, socialites and curious onlookers from around the world. Last year’s drew 98,000 visitors.

Art Basel’s 47th edition is open to the public from Thursday, June 16 through Sunday, June 19.

(Text: John Heilprin,

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