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P. Diddy: Art Collector

P. Diddy. Sean Coombs. Puff Daddy. Music Mogul. Party Elite. Rapper. Art collector?

Yep. Mr. Coombs is a regular attendee at the Miami Beach event. Spotted lounging poolside at the Fontainebleau Hotel in 2009, he was also seen cruising the fair in 2010.

Collectors from around the globe descended early this week on Florida’s South Beach Art Deco-district for Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), the Western Hemisphere’s largest art fair — and already the talk of the town is what P. Diddy is buying. On Tuesday night, Nov. 29 — at a pre-party thrown by Ferrari and Sotheby’s at 1111 Lincoln Road (at a new mixed-use, inventively geometric building designed by renowned architects Herzog & De Meuron) — the talk was that the rapper/producer had already dropped some cash for a piece by Random International, a London-based studio of three artists known for their light installations.

Tracey Emin. "I Listen to the Ocean and All I Hear is You" 2011. Neon. 35.83 x 83.07 in. 91 x 211 cm. Edition of 3. © Tracey Emin / 2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

The next day, at the VIP preview opening of the art fair, where a record 260 galleries had set up booths, Diddy – wearing a questionably stylish leopard-print sweater — reportedly paid around $70,000 for a 2011 neon work by British artist Tracey Emin which spells out in bright letters “I Listen to the Ocean and All I Hear is You,” from Lehmann Maupin Gallery. Witnesses at the art fair’s VIP preview Wednesday said savvy Diddy “asked for a discount, which he was given, before he bought the piece.”

“There’s a new celebrity collecting frenzy. It’s becoming a hot new symbol of status,” said Alexander Gilkes, co-founder of online art marketplace Paddle8, a partner in Nada, one of the many satellite fairs that surround ABMB.

The fair – and the parties – run through Dec. 4, so there’s plenty of time for Diddy to pick up some more artworks. Meanwhile, he’s co-hosting a invitation-only party on Friday night, a cocktail at Mr. Chow at the W Hotel, celebrating Culo by Mazzucco, a coffee-table book put together by Diddy and Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine of photographs of women’s rear ends, shot by Raphael Mazzucco.

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