Gary Nader, one of the most prominent galleries in Wynwood, Miami's most prominent arts community, is housing one of Miami's most expensive gallery art exhibits. But does that warrant special treatment from city government?
Mayor Tomás Regalado and Police Chief Manuel Orosa think so. According to the Miami Herald, at Nader's request, they've instituted 24-hour surveillance of the gallery by Miami police officers -- free of charge.
Police security for private businesses normally costs $32 per hour. But supporters of Nader's special treatment say that because the gallery is housing a free exhibit valued at $500 million, it's at extra risk of theft -- a high-profile crime that could damage the city's reputation, and therefore makes its security the city's business.
"If something happens to that art collection, it's going to be, 'Where were the police?' " Orosa said while defending the decision at a City Commission meeting. Orosa also defended his position to the Herald, saying, "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."
Other Wynwood gallery owners, however, wonder why their own free exhibits aren't considered valuable enough to warrant their own police security detail. And others in the neighborhood say the police department's special treatment of Nader's exhibit comes at the cost of security in the rest of Wynwood. The neighborhood's been the site of several shootings in recent months, including those of a man and pregnant woman during Art Basel, and of 15-year-old Aaron Willis later that month. Willis is now paralyzed.
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"What about my son?" Catherine Beaton, Willis' mother, asked the Herald. "His life and his future are more valuable than these paintings."
Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.