Miami Is a Mecca for Rich Republican Art Collectors
This year during Art Basel Miami Beach, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly sent correspondent Jesse Watters down to the art fairs to poke fun of attendees. Waters was operating under the assumption that anyone who loves art must be some sort of out of touch hippie liberal. Not only was the segment a heavily edited farce, according to one person who was interviewed, but it central thesis was wrong.
Turns out rich Republicans love art. Especially when it makes for a good investment or tax write-off.
It also shouldn't be surprising that the list is dominated by people with Miami connections.
Sitting atop the list in spot number one is local billionaire rabble rouser Norman Braman. Yes, he's the main benefactor of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami in the Design District, but he's also the main benefactor of the Marco Rubio campaign. He could end up spending more than $25 million on Rubio's campaign, but that's a fraction of the $900 million he's invested in art over the years. Braman is also the main financial benefactor of Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado.
Condo developer Jorge Pérez pops up on the list at 18. Yes, the man whose name adorns the Pérez Art Museum of Miami. Pérez was known for years as a key Democratic donor in South Florida and a close ally of the Clintons in particular. However, he shocked the political class this year by instead opening his checkbook to Jeb Bush. He's donated $245,000 to Bush's Super PAC. Well, at least art can bridge political divides. Perez was noted for spending most of his time during this year's Art Basel on the shoulders of known Obama-supporter Wyclef Jean.
Then there are Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz who run their private museum the De La Cruz Collection. They also wrote $10,000 checks to the Elect Republicans Now PAC in 2014.
While not full-time Miamians, others on the list have South Florida connections as well. Hedge fund boss Ken Griffin popped up at number two on the list. Born in Boca Raton, he's a mega-supporter of both the arts and the GOP. He also recently bought Miami's most expensive condo ever. Third-place Ronald Lauder has a mega-mansion in Palm Beach near the Breakers Hotel. Eighth-place Leon Black, a Jeb supporter, is said to have recently purchased a Miami Beach pad in the Faena District. Spot 15 belongs to part-time Palm Beach resident Henry Kravis.
Of course, not all Miami art bigwigs are GOP supporters. Mera Rubell of the Rubell Family Collection tends to write her checks to Democrats. As does Martin Margulies of the Margulies Collection. Bruce Berkowitz, whose Fairholme Capital headquarters will be the next entrance into Miami's private museum milieu, is also a political switch-hitter. He donated to both Romney and Obama in 2012, but so far this year is a major Jeb Bush supporter.
Interestingly, Naomi Wilzig, the late founder of the naughty World Erotic Art Museum, was a major Republican donor save for a donation to John Kerry in 2004.