World Fair

The Virtual Version of Art Basel

UD - VIP Art Fair A quick look through your instant message history shows some remarkable statistics.

Conversations with the person sitting next to you: 1,575

Conversations with the person sitting across from you about the person next to you: 1,571

Conversations with a Brussels art gallery about bartering a 30-foot cast-iron sculpture: 0

Although perhaps we should re-count that last item at the end of the week.

Introducing VIP Art Fair, a first-of-its-kind gathering of the world’s finest contemporary galleries... on your computer, running now through January 30.

Think of this as the virtual version of Art Basel, but with more wi-fi and fewer canapés.

You’ll start by filling out the site’s free registration, at which point you can officially and legally claim to be an international art collector. So dress accordingly.

At your disposal: 139 well-regarded galleries from such exotic, faraway lands as Tokyo, São Paulo and that hotbed of avant-garde cubism, Short Hills, NJ.

The experience will be eerily similar to an actual open house. You’ll move through the space, browsing all types of works, learning about the artists and touching nothing. When you finally see something that speaks to you: it’s time to negotiate.

Here, you have three routes. Back-and-forth emails. Rapid-fire instant messages. Or face-to-face Skype showdowns with the kind of art dealers who use canes for dramatic effect.

Just remember, they won’t take you seriously without a monocle.

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