BASEL, Switzerland, June 15 (Reuters) – “When did so many people start caring about contemporary art?” wondered Marc Glimcher, head of the Pace gallery empire, as he busily made deals at Art Basel’s VIP preview this week.

With 291 galleries from 35 countries presenting 4,000 artists’ works, the world’s most prestigious art fair is as much a place to hobnob as it is to buy and sell an estimated 2.5 billion to 3 billion euros ($2.8-3.4 billion) of art.

This year’s fair — hard on the heels of a $110.5 million sale of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting at a Sotheby’s auction in New York — got off to a fast clip, dispelling a sombre market mood last year. read more