Steve Lazarides, the British street art dealer credited with discovering Banksy, has called off a massive street art festival he was planning in conjunction with December's Art Basel Miami Beach. The now-canceled event has been in the works since at least 2010, when Lazarides told Modern Painters about his plan in a profile. It began raising eyebrows in yet again January, after the Financial Times mentioned the extravaganza. Though the news was buried in the tenth paragraph of a larger story on the gallerist, people across the country took notice. Now, with little fanfare and even less explanation, the event has been canceled.
Touted as Lazarides's "most audacious move yet" and supposedly planned in conjunction with Live Nation and the Tribeca Film Festival, the mega-show was to incorporate street art, music, and film. The dealer was reportedly sniffing out locations that would hold 90,000 to 100,000 people (Paper magazine said that an "insider" confirmed that Lazarides was in Miami for last year's ABMB, and that the American Airlines arena was in the running to be the venue). Wild speculation commenced: Where would the event take place? Miami's New Times weighed in against, quipping, "Hey, Laz: Thanks for discovering Banksy and all, but the last thing Miami needs during Art Basel week is another gigantic mish-mash of arty festivities."
The news of the cancellation doesn't come as a total shock. Since his initial revelation in January, Lazarides declined to share any details about the event publicly and turned down repeated interview requests from ARTINFO. When asked recently about Lazarides's event, officials from the Miami Art Museum, which is planning a street art-themed party in conjunction with ABMB and would likely have heard about a similar, much larger-scale festival, said they had heard nothing about it.
On Friday, a rep for Lazarides confirmed that the event has been canceled. "I’ve just found out that this is no longer going ahead and Lazarides won’t be hosting a festival this year in Miami," she wrote in an e-mail. She declined to go into detail about reasons for the cancellation or confirm whether a similar event is in the works for next year.
This isn't the first time a blowout event organized by Lazarides has been called off in the eleventh hour — in 2008, he canceled plans for an art raffle in conjunction with Frieze Art Fair after the Gambling Commission told him the event would be illegal.