Basel, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – The Miami offshoot of the Basel Art fair has since 2002 been a place where wealthy clients and would-be customers of Swiss bank UBS could expect to be lavishly wined and dined in carpeted tents. The bank is the main sponsor of the US version of the contemporary art show in Switzerland, of which it is the sole sponsor. This year UBS has canceled what Bloomberg regards as its signature extravaganza event.
It will keep its VIP lounge but, like the other sponsors in Miami, is opting for smaller, more low-key meals with its guests.
The toned-down 2009 Miami fair, 3-6 December, is a victim of the global financial crisis, with fewer exhibitors and sponsors spending less for the traditionally glitzy event, but UBS has other ghosts to face in Miami, as it lives down accusations in the US that it used the fair to solicit clients who were looking to hide their wealth from the IRS, the US tax authority. Steven Michael Rubenstein in April 2009 became the first US citizen (he is also South African) who was a client of UBS to be arrested for tax evasion in connection with names turned in by whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld. Rubenstein reportedly met illegally with UBS officials at the fair, according to the New York Times, giving some credence to widespread rumours of the bank’s activities at the fair.