SeaFair, the Art Yacht, Docks in Newport


(Editor's note:  Seafair has left Newport and It will not return to Newport until 2012)

For sheer shoreline water displacement, the art yacht Seafair wins the prize, as the gargantuan, porthole-free vessel opened for business with a recent private reception, "First View and Collectors Evening" for art lovers from Newport, RI  Providence, and Boston.


The creation of David and Lee Ann Lester, who put on the prestigious
International Arts & Antiques Fairs in Palm Beach (see and Naples, Florida, SeaFair is a new concept, somewhere between the art auctions on ocean liners, floating restaurants, art galleries, and jewelry stores. Does it work here?


SeaFair sails toward Newport

Apparently so:  Newporters and visitors are flocking to the ship. gladly paying the $15 fee to board (when was the last time anyone paid to enter an art gallery?), then enjoying the view, the ambience, cocktails, the fabulous jewelry and  silver, spread over five decks, and the somewat uneven collection of modern art in the gallery spaces, which are rented by various dealers. Leah Sandberg greatly admired the vintage Murano collection, and Coplan Gallery of Boca Raton presented exciting works by renowned American photojournalist Steve McCurry, best recognized for his photograph, "Afghan Girl" that originally appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine. New York galleries afloat included the Forum Gallery and Lillian Heidenberg Fine Art.


 Pat Fernandez & Kimberly Skeen-Jones

Newport, Rhode Island is the home of SeaFair until September 5, and is the inaugural location of its summer season's "Art in the Harbor" fair combining exhibitions with author talks and meetings.   The contemporary ship is the venue for international dealers presenting art representing a broad range of media and periods. Attendees see a array of artworks including fine art glass, paintings, jewelry, design, sculpture, photography and furniture. The majority of artwork falls in the price range of $3,000 to $35,000.


Captain Craig Matthews, who sailed the massive yacht up from Sarasota, and will next go to Greenwich, Connecticut before returning to Naples gave a proper welcome to arriving guests, who boarded the yacht, were given champagne and scanty hors d'oeuvres, walked through the gallery floors, then repaired to the upper deck, where they were greeted by…a cash bar, with music.


Artists Alexander Skeen & Max Skeen

Newport Seen saw Pat Fernandez, Kimberly Skeen Jones with sons, artists Alexander Skeen and Max Skeen, Jay Serzan, Bekki Schenker (pricing jewelry at Yvel, of Israel), Ed and Sharon Lavalle, Newport Investment's Robert Cusack, Jae French, Virginia Smith, artist Rita Rogers, Charles and Harry Winthrop, Elizabeth Ciorun, and many others.


The Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport is sponsoring a gallery space, displaying local artist Karen Roarke's  work.  The jewelry store Yvel was doing a ripping business, and the guests were generally having a fine time.


Newport Seen captures a happy silver collector


For the sheer glamour and novelty of it all, SeaFair is interesting, both as a business model and a new sort of entertainment for Newporters and visitors. Does the art itself measure up to the quality and breadth of the Florida shows on land?  Decidedly not.


                                                                                -- L.P.

SeaFair's Specs:

SeaFair is the world's first mobile mega-yacht venue and one of thelargest private yachts in the United States. Groundbreaking in scale, ingenuity and style, the innovative exhibition facility - whichremains dockside during each event - pairs international fine art, jewelry and collectibles with harbor view dining and special eventsin cities along the eastern seaboard.The ship boasts three decks of international galleries, two outdoorbars, an international coffee bar, as well as a formal glass-walledrestaurant and an open-air bistro on the Sky Deck.The $40M purpose built exhibition yacht was designed byinternationally acclaimed yacht designer Luiz de Basto. At 228 feet and 2,800 international tons, it is one of the largest ships built for commercial operation in the Intracoastal Waterway and requires a draft of only 6.5 feet, allowing it to dock at yacht facilities in centralcity locations rather than use commercial ports. For more information on SeaFair go to or call 239.949.5411



Jay Serzan with friend

Vivid backdrop for Shawn Reynolds & Frank Prete

Discussing the silver

Christian Winthrop and Dad Harry

Bekki Schenker loved the jewelry

The restaurant, open for dining

Art adorns the Sapore dining room

 Ed & Sharon Lavalle

Top deck:  views and cocktails

Jay Serzan & friend on the Sky Deck

Ned Capozzi, Raymond Mathieu, Deb & Bob Cusack

Music on the Sky Deck

The stunning view from the upper deck

The Arts & Cultural Alliance exhibit of Karen Roarke's works

Artist Rita Rogers requests more information from Taylor O'Connor at

Diego Jacobson Gallery exhibit

Sapore Restuarant is serene

Muted landscapes

The Zen-like Harmony Series

Owner & Creator of Seafair David Lester

Gazing out from Seafair

The stern gangplank

Seafair, the Art Yacht in Newport, RI

Jae French & Virginia Smith arriving late

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