George Condo, Distanced Figures Painting, 2020, oil on canvas.
© George Condo, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
The hefty participation fee—$6,500 for exhibitors in the Galleries sector, compared with zero for previous editions of the Art Basel Online Viewing Room—did not deter 255 of the world's leading contemporary art galleries from signing up. Several of them reported numerous sales in a variety of spheres to Artnews media, and the level of enthusiasm seemed to surpass the moderate interest aroused overall by most other virtual fairs this fall. Hauser & Wirth sold several pieces at the VIP opening, including a painting by George Condo, Distanced Figures (2020) for $2.2 million and an oil painting by Rashid Johnson, Anxious Red Painting July 8th 2020 (2020) for $400,000. On opening day, David Zwirner made no fewer than twenty sales, including a Ruth Asawa sculpture dating from 1954-1958 for $2.5 million. The American Kasmin Gallery sold a 1976 ink drawing by David Hockney for a six-figure sum. Success this time around was partly due to the expertise Art Basel has developed over the months with each digital edition and partly to the growing involvement of exhibitors, who have learned to set up programs and exhibitions in their physical spaces at the same time.