MOCA's High-Profile Donors May Reclaim Their Art From North Miami

Categories: Art

Photo by Jipsy
Norman Braman and other MOCA donors could take their art back from the North Miami "paradise."
When the marriage between the city of North Miami and its Museum of Contemporary Art was at peace, art donors didn't seem to worry much about who technically owned the works they donated to be displayed at the museum.

But the two entities are now in a nasty dispute, one that could lead to a break-up between the institutions -- turning the donated works into children of divorce, complete with a brewing custody battle.

Several high-profile donors including Braman Motorcars chairman Norman Braman; the Martin Z. Margulies Foundation; Aventura art collectors Paul and Estelle Berg; and MOCA board president Ray Ellen Yarkin have filed a motion in MOCA's lawsuit against the city, one intended to keep their donations in possession of the museum, not the city. And if a judge rules that the work belongs to the city instead, they've threatened to reclaim it.

See also: MOCA Board of Trustees Deny Support to North Miami's Museum Director Candidate

"It was never their intent that the city of North Miami could make a grab for this art and say that it's theirs," attorney Alan Kluger, whose firm represents MOCA, told the Miami Herald. "And basically as the museum goes, so goes the art."

But city spokesperson Pam Soloman countered that the works belong to the institution itself, not to the board running it, who were mulling plans to move its collection to Miami Beach's Bass Museum late last year: "It was never the intention for the art collection to belong to an individual, or group of individuals."

The motion is just the latest in a long line of drama between the museum in the city. Former director Bonnie Clearwater left MOCA for the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale in September; later, relative Miami newcomer Alex Gartenfeld was appointed interim director. After the board's plans to move to the Bass came to light in December, the board filed its breach of contract lawsuit against North Miami in April, claiming the city wasn't providing enough financial, security, and maintenance support to the museum. Now, the city of Miami has appointed its own museum director, Babacar M'Bow. But the board of trustees has not approved that choice, saying that M'Bow failed to provide information for a background check.

Mediation is scheduled for both parties, due to begin June 16.

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Location Info


Museum of Contemporary Art

770 NE 125th St., North Miami, FL

Category: General

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Matty Wheelz
Matty Wheelz

Miami is not an art Mecca . I suspect the same will happen at PAMM? And yes it is sad.


"The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is dedicated to making contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences – especially underserved populations – through the collection, preservation and exhibition of the best of contemporary art and its art historical influences." ... this is the mission of MOCA, their reason to exist, and the reason the get the 501 c3 tax status. Museums ARE NOT places that collect art work, and present it for the sole purpose of providing people with a hip place to host an event or lavish party. Museums are in place to support the communities they exist in, to preserve the culture around it, not to pick up and move on up like the Jeffersons just because South Beach has better foot traffic.  There are no underserved population on South Beach. If the MOCA wants to draw in more people to their "remote" location, they need to create better, more engaging programming. If you want a better museum, then BE a better museum. Otherwise, dissolve the 501 c3 and open a private collection.


If they attempt to reclaim the artworks they will lose the tax write offs they claimed at the time of their donation and they would be in breach of their donation agreements. Their argument doesn't take into account that fact that a similar situation is in place at the Bass Museum , which was created as a non profit by the city of Miami Beach so that John Bass could get a tax break for donating his collection. I am fairly certain that I'd you ask city officials in Miami Beach who owns the Bass collection ,they would say that the city does. The Bass board cannot remove it. So why then is there this eagerness on the part of the MOCA board to move to an institution that will claim city ownership of donations to the Bass? Unless they plan to fight with their new landlords and work to entirely privatize the new entity--severing city ties and privitizing the whole thing .

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