Diddy and Deitch meeting at Art Basel Miami Beach (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Diddy and Deitch meeting at Art Basel Miami Beach (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

MIAMI BEACH — On Wednesday, during the VIP and press preview at Art Basel Miami Beach, I encountered an odd scene at one of the booths, where dealer-turned-museum-director-turned-dealer Jeffrey Deitch and Sean “Diddy” Combs could be overheard discussing Kanye West. At one point Diddy exclaimed, seemingly apropos of nothing, “I was on stage with Kanye last night,” before laughing. The New York Post‘s Page Six has figured out the mystery, and it’s a doozy:

Witnesses said Deitch, the former director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, had an awkward moment when he walked up to Diddy at the Art Basel hub, the Miami Beach Convention Center, on Wednesday.

One said, “Jeffrey said, ‘Hi, Kanye . . .,’ then immediately realized he’d made a mistake, and looked absolutely mortified. There was a moment while everybody held their breath, then Diddy burst out laughing. He took it really well.”

And Deitch responded to Page Six’s request for comment on the matter with this explanation via email:

“There was a big crowd gathered at the entrance to an art fair booth. I asked the dealer what the commotion was about and she said, ‘Kanye is here.’ I could only see the person from the back, and went over to say ‘Hi Kanye’. To my great embarrassment, it turned out to be P Diddy. He thought it was very funny, especially since we had spent several hours together visiting my street art show in Los Angeles.”

Art world gadfly Steven Kaplan posted an interesting comment to his Facebook account on the whole affair: “Deitch’s excuse is there was a crowd murmur of ‘Kanye,’ so naturally he just repeated the name before he noticed the mistake. Which just proves that, like many art world gatekeepers who thrive on consensus, Deitch ‘sees’ with his ears.”

The whole encounter was actually quite absurd and from what I overheard of their banter it sounded like Diddy thought Deitch was still in LA. Oh, when celebrities meet in public.

I, for one, am glad Deitch is back in New York and can’t wait to follow his adventures and misadventures. Keep ’em coming, Jeffrey. You rock!

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.