Art Basel Miami Beach convention center became the scene of a vicious crime yesterday when an argument between two women escalated to a stabbing. The stabbing occurred during the convention center’s main event and Police report that one of the women in the argument eventually pulled out a knife and began to stab the other in the neck and arms.
The two women were patrons of the ongoing art show and their fight was initially thought to be part of the exhibit, a performance art piece. Even later, when the police arrived and cordoned off a portion of the exhibit, many patrons reportedly thought it was a part of the installation. The convention was playing host to the biggest art show in the U.S. and the section of the show designed to promote young artists, NOVA, is where the attack took place. Police were forced to cordon off the entrance to the convention center near Washington Avenue.
Reports are that the incident was initially just an argument between the two women, then it escalated into a fight, and that’s when Siyuan Zhao, who is from New York, pulled an X-Acto craft knife and stabbed the other woman repeatedly. Allegedly the stabbing occurred after the victim confronted Siyuan Zhao and accused her of following her around and intentionally bumping into her several times. The victim has not been identified but the stab injuries to her neck and arms have been reported as non life threatening. She was taken to Jackson Memorial hospital.
According to the Miami Herald, Miami artist Naomi Fisher and partner Agatha Wara had their own art work nearby. When the stabbing occurred, a patron of the art show approached her advising he thought the whole thing was a part of a performance art piece when it initially occurred. Someone else also showed her a cellphone picture of the victim, dressed in white and covered in blood stains.
“A guy walked up to me and said, ‘I thought I saw a performance, and I thought it was fake blood, but it was real blood’… It’s horrible… I’m so freaked out. I feel nauseous.”
One of the witnesses was a gallerist who said that after hearing a woman scream, she immediately ran to the area and that was when she discovered the victim lying on the ground and bleeding from her neck. Other witnesses said that they initially saw what appeared to be a pen sticking out of the neck of the woman who was stabbed. The witnesses are art gallery representatives who declined to provide their names.
The woman who stabbed the victim was arrested at the scene. According to police reports, she could be heard muttering to herself, “I had to kill her and two more.” Siyuan Zhao also allegedly said, “I had to watch her bleed!”
Artnet News included a statement from Sara Fitzmaurice, president of Fitz & Co, which is the firm in charge of handling public relations for Art Basel, about the stabbing. They also reported that Art Basel has obtained legal counsel in an attempt to do damage control.
“At 5:20pm on Friday a visitor was assaulted by another visitor in the Nova sector of the fair. The attack was an isolated incident that was immediately secured. The suspect was apprehended by police who were at the scene within seconds of the incident. The extensive security provided by the Miami Beach Convention Center is supporting the investigation. The victim was taken directly to the hospital and according to the Miami Beach Police Department the victim’s injuries are non-life threatening. Our thoughts are with the victim.”
[Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images]