Eli Broad Sues Museum Contractor for $20 Million Over Delays

Sub-contractor bungled design of distinctive honeycomb exterior.

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Eli Broad. Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.

Billionaire art collector and museum-builder Eli Broad is suing the German sub-contractor who was hired to create the trademark steel mesh that will envelope his Broad Collection in Downtown Los Angeles to the tune of $19.8 million. According to a lawsuit filed by Broad and Matt Construction, the project’s general contractor, in Superior Court in LA, Gersthofen-headquartered Seele Inc. delayed the completion of the Broad, costing the institution nearly $20 million. The lawsuit accuses Steele of numerous infractions including breach of contract, fraud and deceit, and unfair competition, according to Courthouse News.

The Broad, designed by New York-based architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro (of High Line fame), was originally supposed to open this year, but due to construction delays its grand opening has been pushed back to 2015. The $140-million, 120-square-foot, three-story institution will house some 2,000 contemporary artworks from the collection of Eli Broad and his wife Edythe.

According to the lawsuit, Broad and Matt Construction brought on Seele late in 2011 to design the building’s distinctive honeycomb-patterned exterior and its glass curtain wall. The contract was for $29.3 million.

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Exterior view of The Broad.
Photo: Courtesy The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

“Seele represented that, if hired, Seele would deliver a product that was not ‘mere Tiffany’ but ‘Cartier’ quality,” according to the lawsuit. But the German company—whose other projects have included the Museum of Arts & Design, the Central Library in Seattle, and the Olympic Stadium in London—failed to submit its designs for the project on time, and when it did the plans it proffered were “unsightly and wholly unacceptable for use on the project,” according to the lawsuit.

“Seele’s acts and omissions during performance of the work have caused a substantial delay to completion of the project which, as of the date of this complaint, is at least 15 months,” the lawsuit states. “Those same acts and omissions have caused substantial damages to Broad and Matt which, as of the date of this complaint, are at least $19.8 million.”


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