The Running of the Billionaires

In an excerpt from his novel, “Back to Blood,” Tom Wolfe sees Art Basel Miami Beach through the eyes of a young Cuban-American exile, as she watches a local tycoon and a Russian oligarch lock horns over erotic conceptual art.

  • Fiction
  1. It was December, which in Miami Beach had only the most boring meteorological significance. Imagine a picture book with the same photograph on every page … every page … high noon beneath a flawless cloudless bright-blue sky … on every page … a tropical sun that turns those rare old birds, pedestrians, into stumpy abstract black shadows on the sidewalk … on every page … unending views of the Atlantic Ocean, “unending” meaning that every couple of blocks, if you squint at a certain angle between the gleaming pinkish butter-colored condominium towers that wall off the shining sea from clueless gawkers who come to Miami Beach thinking they can just drive down to the shore and see the beaches and the indolent recliner & umbrella people and the lapping waves and the ocean sparkling and glistening and stretching out to the horizon in a perfect 180-degree arc … if you squint just right, every couple of blocks you can get a skinny, thin-as-a-ballpoint-refill, vertical glimpse of the ocean—blip—and it’s gone … on every page … glimpse—blip—and it’s gone … on every page … on every page …

    However, at high noon, or 11:45 A.M., to be exact, on this particular December day Magdalena and Norman were indoors … in the distinguished company of Maurice Fleischmann, along with Marilynn Carr, his “A.A.,” as he called her … short for art adviser. In fact, he had begun using that as her nickname … “Hey, A.A., come take a look at this” … or whatever. With dignity, insofar as that was possible, the ...