Don and Mera Rubell, founding couple of the Rubell Family Collection, spoon-fed people little bites of cake Thursday in Wynwood, assisted by 48 servers dressed all in black.
Yes. Like Marie Antoinette.
It was a celebration of the couple's 50th wedding anniversary and also a performance-art piece by daughter Jennifer at her annual Art Basel breakfast. Every year Rubell puts on a food-related installation. Her breakfast itself is the piece of art.
The Rubells are widely viewed as Miami's most prominent art collectors, and they boast one of the world's largest privately owned contemporary-art collections. At the breakfast, patriarch Don cheerily offered a crowd of intrigued watchers pieces of a small pink cake frosted in white.
"It's a very good feeling to serve other people on your anniversary," he said. "We have all different flavors -- chocolate, vanilla, strawberry -- so, like marriage, we have to satisfy all the needs."
The eater-participants congratulated Don and Mera on their 50 years and some stopped to chat after taking their bite. A small line formed at times in front of the couple. Overall, it was a chipper event for the chatty Basel crowd and the guests of honor.
But what the Rubells seem to have overlooked is the performance's inescapable resemblance to the 18th-Century episode of royal neglect attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette.
Except instead of "let them eat cake," the Rubells only let the commoners of Art Basel taste it. Fifty different flavors of it, if they liked, but the point stands: Did the Rubells not think that one of Miami's most eminent art families spoon-feeding the public seemed a little weird?
It could be an instance of benign ignorance. Or maybe just a highfalutin show of art.
Either way, the Rubells served, and the people ate up.