The world's largest show of modern and contemporary art, has opened its doors to the public. Living up to its reputation for VIP guests and high price tags, Art Basel has already boasted multimillion dollar sales.
More than 300 galleries from five continents welcomed members of the public on Thursday for the 44th edition of Switzerland's world-famous art fair.
An anticipated 65,000 visitors were invited to explore some 31,000 square meters (334,000 square feet) of exhibition space filled with works from leading contemporary and modern artists.
With doors opened to VIP guests for an advanced viewing two days earlier, however, many of this year's biggest deals had already been closed.
Just half an hour into the exclusive opening the New York gallery Cheim & Read sold a large painting by the late US artist and leading abstract expressionist Joan Mitchell for $6.5 million (4.88 million euros).
According to the Reuters news agency, works by the German painter Gerhard Richter quickly began to fetch similar prices. Richter's works fetch some of the highest prices of any living artist in the world. The 81-year-old broke his own auction record back in May when auctioneer Sotheby's sold his painting of Milan's Cathedral Square for $37.1 million in New York.
Art Basel is exhibited in three venues annually: Hong Kong, Miami Beach, and Basel itself.
Basel remains the main event, with private jets filling the skies and luxury limousines cluttering the streets around the exhibition since it first opened its doors on Tuesday. Collectors from around the world first flocked to peruse the multi-million dollar artworks. Among the celebrities already reported to have made an appearance were US actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and former Germany football captain Michael Ballack.
The event will remain open for another two days, closing its doors on Sunday.
ccp/msh (AFP, Reuters)