Felix Xu figured he knew enough about art to navigate the analog scene at Art Basel Miami Beach. The 29-year-old Beijing co-founder and chief executive officer of the crypto startups Arpa and Bella Protocol has been buying NFT artworks at breakneck speed since the spring, ranking as one of the top 10 buyers of art on the digital art platform HicEtNunc. He now owns more than 3,000 digital artworks including examples by artists like Urs Fischer, Lucas Samaras and Damien Hirst.
But until Miami, Mr. Xu had never stepped foot into a fair selling art in real life. He didn’t know about the power dynamics that determine where galleries show within the vast Miami Beach Convention Center. Or that Gagosian, one of the world’s biggest galleries, didn’t host a prefair party this year at Mr. Chow, historically a must-go event for celebrities and billionaires alike. On Nov. 18, Mr. Xu tweeted, “Coming to @ArtBasel later this month, what’s fun?”