Residents protest police watch over gallery
MIAMI (WSVN) -- An art gallery has become the picture of controversy in one South Florida neighborhood. The gallery receives police protection for an exhibit without paying one cent.
"The Picasso loan is $50 million insured," said Gary Nader. "The Bacon next to it is $60 million."
As many as 110 pieces from modern and contemporary masters hang at the Gary Nader Fine Art Gallery. Valued at over half-a-billion dollars, they all occupy the second floor of the gallery in Wynwood. "This is without a doubt," said Nader, "the most important collection in the world in private hands."
The key word being "private." All of it is owned by private Portuguese business owner Jose Berardo, on loan to Nader. The public can view the collection for free, but the fact that it is receiving protection from Miami Police has stirred controversy. "I pay square-footage in taxes exactly the way that he does," said William Braemer of Art Fusion Galleries. "So why should there be a police in front of his gallery and not in front of mine?"
Artist and dealer William Braemer recently moved his gallery to Midtown. "In the second week that we were here," said Braemer, "we had all of our outdoor lights stolen, and there was no police around to protect me then."
The news of public protection for a public venue did not sit well for the father of a teenager recently shot while riding his bicycle just blocks away from Nader's gallery. "I can understand that in an area where that's all that's needed," said Sam Willis. "But sometimes we get our priorities mixed up. We put our priorities in the wrong perspective. If that one officer would've been on that street where he got shot, there would have been a possibility that that wouldn't have happened."
Nader said the city will see the thousands of dollars worth of police protection back, after tens of thousands come to see the work. "They're going to pay hotels," said Nader, "taxi cabs, laundry bills, restaurants, etc. The bill that the Miami Police is putting is minimal to what this creates. But what is more important is increasing value to being exposed to a collection like this."
Nader has extended invitations to school groups to view the collection. The blogger who exposed the police protection said the police belong elsewhere. "They belong out on the street," said Watchdog Blogger Al Crespo. "I mean this is a city that continuously has problems with the lack of police."
Nader said that around-the-clock police protection was a condition of bringing the special collection to Miami.
Neither Miami Police nor the mayor's office were available to comment on the matter.
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