Controversy Over Police Protection at Wynwood Art Gallery

Miami Police officer guarding art gallery with $500 million exhibit for free

Thursday, Jan 31, 2013  |  Updated 12:48 AM EDT
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Gary Nader says that for 30 years he has traveled the world searching to bring the best collection to the Magic City. But nearby gallery owner William Braemer, among others, is not pleased that Nader's gallery is getting free police protection for his $500 million exhibit. Mayor Tomas Regalado explained the move. Art lover Carlos Rippes said he appreciates Nader's gift.

Gary Nader says that for 30 years he has traveled the world searching to bring the best collection to the Magic City. But nearby gallery owner William Braemer, among others, is not pleased that Nader's gallery is getting free police protection for his $500 million exhibit. Mayor Tomas Regalado explained the move. Art lover Carlos Rippes said he appreciates Nader's gift.

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A Wynwood art gallery is getting a free Miami police officer to protect its $500 million exhibit, and not everyone's thrilled.

The officer has been guarding Gary Nader Fine Art Gallery since early December, when the gallery received the collection of 110 pieces including works from Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, according to the Miami Herald.

Nader said that for 30 years he has traveled the world searching to bring the best collection to the Magic City.

"No other gallery in the world in the history of contemporary or modern art has a show like this," he told NBC 6.

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The police protection was approved by Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa and Mayor Tomas Regalado who say they agreed to provide the service, which would normally cost about $20,000 per month for 24-hour protection, because the gallery is free and open to the public.

"Miami aspires to be the center of the arts, and if we are looking to be that we have to invest," Regalado said.

But not everyone is pleased with the use of police resources, including William Braemer, owner of nearby Art Fusion Galleries.

He asked about other museums and galleries in Miami, "Why are they not getting 24-hour police protection when they have priceless works of art as well?”

But Nader said he's forking out $2 million of his own cash for indoor security, insurance and shipping, as a gift to Miami.

"The city of Miami is the city who’s supported me in everything that I've done," he explained.

Nearby residents are also questioning using a beat officer in the gallery while violent crime occurs nearby. Catherine Beaton, whose 15-year-old son was paralyzed after he was shot while riding his bicycle three blocks from the gallery on Dec. 19, said she'd rather see that cop on the beat.

"What about my son?" Beaton told the Herald. "His life and his future are more valuable than these paintings."

Orosa said there are at least five other officers in Wynwood at all times, and defended the move.

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“Mr. Nader’s gallery met the same threshold in that it was an exhibit open to the public at no charge," Orosa wrote in an email to El Nuevo Herald. "I ask that anyone who would criticize my position think about the long-lasting effects of a theft of or vandalism to a $500 million exhibit in our burgeoning art district."

Regalado likewise defended the expenditure, saying the cost outweighs the threat of a potential theft.

"And that collection would be so tempting for criminals," Regalado told the Herald Tuesday. "I’ve been worried since Day One that something would happen, which would be catastrophic for the city’s image."

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