Miley Cyrus sang a song inspired by her friend's cat dying. Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly left an after party with every model that was in attendance. Kim Kardashian made the case that her latest magazine cover is art.
Miami's Art Basel celebration is the place for the who's-who in pop culture to be seen. Yet, while celebrities made loud appearances at the weekend's festivities, another debonair guest made a more subtle appearance.
Parked outside of the Metropolitan by COMO in the midst of Art Basel was one of the most beautiful pieces of art the week's events saw. Earlier this fall, Rolls-Royce launched its Ghost Series II. With its meticulous design and featuring modern finishes and leather highlights, one thing stood out about the Ghost II: It's not just a car; it's a piece of art.
While art collectors sprawled about Miami Beach searching for pieces to commission, Rolls-Royce presented itself as more than an automotive investment, but as a commissionable piece of art. "A Rolls-Royce is a work of art; it's your work of art," said Gerry Spahn, the head of communications for Rolls-Royce in North America.
When it comes to works of art, the Rolls-Royce presents a canvas unlike any other artists can prepare. According to Spahn, the low-end price for a new Rolls-Royce is $400,000 and the price can reach "infinity." The infinite price of a Rolls-Royce is due in large part to Rolls-Royce's willingness to allow purchasers of its cars to bespoke them in any way imaginable. When it comes to customizing a Rolls-Royce, there is no limit to what the company is willing to do for its buyers. On the tame side of things are custom paint and leather jobs which can turn a car's exterior and interior into any color of the rainbow. On the more extravagant side of things is one owner's desire to turn the inside of his Rolls-Royce into a planetarium of sorts. For this gentleman, Rolls-Royce carefully embedded 423 diamonds into the interior of his car's roofs to create a perfectly glowing starlight scene. As one might expect, the cost for a diamond-lit night sky inside of a car is steep -- Spahn noted that the cost of that particular Rolls-Royce topped seven figures.
Rolls-Royce's willingness to bring customers' dreams to life with its cars is driving the company's sales to new levels. Sales of the Rolls-Royce peaked in 1976, but thereafter, declined. In 2003, with the launch of the Phantom, Rolls-Royce began seeing new growth, with the model selling around 1,000 units. Six years later, Rolls-Royce introduced the Ghost and the company's growth began speeding up. "We touched on a new vehicle that brought in a new group of customers. However, volume isn't what we're after. We're about maintaining the uniqueness and value of the cars," Spahn explained.
Yet, in the last ten years, Rolls-Royce has seen significant growth in the volume of its sales, with sales more than tripling. Spahn noted that Rolls-Royce expects 2014 to be its fourth record-setting year for sales. However, for the company, exclusivity remains its focus. "Our goal is to build one fewer car than we sell. We want that growth to continue, but we want to be exclusive," Spahn said.
And for Rolls-Royce, remaining exclusive likely means continuing to be more reserved in its Art Basel appearance. While Rolls-Royce is a participating sponsor of Art Basel Miami, it's unlikely that you'll see its cars being front and center at any loud Miami Beach soirees during the week's events. Rather, it's likely that Rolls-Royce will continue to let its cars speak for themselves while partnering with host sites, like the Metropolitan by COMO.