Catching Up With David Grutman at Art Basel

Catching Up With David Grutman at Art Basel

There's a scene in The Devil Wears Prada where the powerful editor Miranda Priestly delivers one of her many iconic lines: "Paris is the most important week of my entire year," she tells her assistant Andy. She's, of course, referring to Paris Fashion Week in September, when the most important people in the fashion industry gather for the most exclusive runway shows, dinners and parties.

For David Grutman, the entrepreneur and nightlife mogul, it wouldn't be too far off to say the same could be said of Art Basel. In many ways, the week-long art festival, with its litany of invite-only parties, perfect early December weather and abundance of celeb-spotting, fits right in his wheelhouse. After all, this is the city he calls home, and it's where he slowly built a hospitality empire that includes some of the hottest restaurants and nightclubs (as well as one very trendy hotel).

So you can imagine his schedule during one of Miami's busiest weeks is nothing short of loaded, particularly after last year's official festivities were canceled due to the pandemic. A typical Art Basel day for him includes a brunch for Sporty & Rich's collaboration Prince (he became a partner with the tennis brand three years ago), a movie premiere with his business partner Pharrell, an event with Chanel and Rosalía, Shabbat dinner, and stopping by his clubs where Martin Garrix and Kaskade will perform.

That morning, after stopping by his luxury condo in the Zaha Hadid-designer One Thousand Museum tower, Grutman took me in one of his many fancy cars on the way to brunch (traffic, as usual this time of year, was a nightmare). After running through his insane schedule, he pointed out how he and his team often have to balance reservations in his restaurants for and fit people in when it gets so busy.

"We've held spots knowing that we're gonna have these last-minute situations," he says. "And thank God because once one [person] goes, they all want to go, right? So they kind of take over a restaurant. We have it set so you kind of corral everybody together. You move them around, instead of one guy here and one guy there, we try to keep everybody together. And a lot of people will have drinks at one place and go eat at another place and then go to the club afterward. And it's kind of an ecosystem that supports each other."

His portfolio, which includes Miami hotspots LIV, STORY and Komodo, is frequented often by the likes of Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, Sean Penn and Mark Anthony, many of whom he counts as good friends. During Art Basel alone he's caught up with Venus Williams, Joan Smalls, Gunna, Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo. In the next two years, he has 28 new openings lined up. He's particularly excited about tapping into areas that are picking up like Coconut Grove.

"It's been a historic area in Miami but now it's really picked up and a lot of young professionals and families have moved there," he says. "A lot of these VC firms that just moved to Miami, a lot of the heads of those VC firms, all live in Coconut Grove. So the wealth has increased enormously. And a lot of these old areas that were battered and whatever have been redeveloped into beautiful homes and streets."

Fashion's Basel crossover is also not lost on Grutman, who attended Louis Vuitton's Virgil Abloh tribute show earlier in the week. "It really started when Dior did that show a couple of years ago," he says of the brand's Miami menswear show, which was held across the Rubell Museum in 2019. "Every major celebrity came in for that, it was great for us. Because everybody went to Swan afterwards."

NFTs have also been a hot topic in Miami art circles this week. Grutman is well aware just how much they've been dominating the space, as its brought a lot of crypto money into the mix. "I try to be ahead of the curve on a lot of things and be able to see it, not after," he says. "I try to identify the trends beforehand, because otherwise, I miss it."

But perhaps one of the most rewarding things Grutman took on this year was the opening of his first hotel, the Goodtime Hotel near South Beach. "It's been incredible to be able to create a space that people sleep and eat," he says. "Because that's a whole other thing. When people come to a restaurant, they're in there for a few hours and they're gone. When you're building a hotel, you're really someone's house. I mean, we've created it, it's a home, it's a community."

Photography: Sarah Acosta Rubio