MOCA North Miami Donors: ‘Art is for Museum, Not for City’

The exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. Photo by Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

Several high profile art patrons in Miami who have donated to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami are making it crystal clear that their gifts were to the museum and not to the city, amid an ongoing legal dispute about breach of contract.

Relations between the art museum’s board and the city of North Miami, which owns the building that houses MOCA, have been tense since news emerged in December that the board was considering a move. The board filed a suit in April alleging breach of contract and claiming that the city was not providing adequate maintenance, security, or financial support. In a motion filed two days ago as part of a lawsuit, the collectors explained that their intent was to donate to the museum, which is a 501 (c) (3), or non-profit, as opposed to the city.

So far, the list of collectors speaking out, includes: auto magnate Norman Bramen and his wife, Irma, co-chair of the board of trustees; fellow co-chair and board president Ray Ellen Yarkin and her husband, Allan Yarkin; Paul and Estelle Berg; and the Martin Z. Margulies Foundation. Attorney Alan Kluger, whose firm filed the breach of contract suit against North Miami, said “it was never their intent that the city of North Miami could make a grab for this art and say that it’s theirs. And basically as the museum goes, so goes the art. These people will get on the witness stand and say that’s their intent.” Kluger told the Miami Herald that his office has been contacted by numerous other donors who will likely add their names to the suit.

Meanwhile, city spokeswoman Pam Solomon said that the museum, and not the board of trustees, owns the art. While the board was set up to “maintain, manage, and built the art collection,” as well as to oversee daily operations, Solomon said the board still has to answer to the city.

Both sides have been ordered to participate in mediation, which is currently scheduled for June 16. Kluger said he hopes the mediation will help the parties reach a settlement.

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