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Art Basel Diary

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE ART Wares from Chicago's Donald Young Gallery(Photo: MCH Swiss Exhibition Ltd.)

Art scene veteran, author, and regular Radar contributor Anthony Haden-Guest files dispatches from deep inside the annual Art Basel romp in South Beach. In the first installment, Guest takes the racing pulse of power players behind the brouhaha ...

DeeDee, my hostess, got her first New York call at 6:30 a.m. It was from a mutual friend, an art dealer.

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"He's shorted his stock in Sotheby's," she told me.

The world's glitziest art fair, Art/Basel/Miami Beach, was opening for action later that day. The New York dealer was creating his own hedge, shorting Sotheby's stock, so as to profit when the art market finally reacted to the credit crunch and swooned. "He's on pins and needles," DeeDee said. "Tonight's the night. The whole world is watching."

Meaning the whole art world.

A slew of conventional wisdoms had sprung up to cover the situation. Some hazarded the prediction that there would be widespread American selling but that the Russians, the Chinese, and the Indians—perhaps even some Europeans—would swoop in. Okay, that prophet was me.

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