Gary Nader is determined to build a new art museum in downtown Miami. This December, during Art Basel Miami Beach, he will offer several paintings from his personal collection to raise funds for the museum's construction.
The catalogue for the pieces to put on the market reads like a who's who of the most renowned modern masters and contemporary artists: Picasso, Matisse, Lichtenstein, Hirst, Botero. It's an assortment that only Nader, who owns one of the world's most coveted collections, can offer. When New Times spoke with him about parting ways with many of the masterpieces — $100 million worth of artwork — he didn't mince words.
“It’s extremely painful because some of these works have been in my collection for more than 20 years, but I have my priorities," Nader says, adding that the museum’s primary collection will not be included in the sale.
The exact location of the new museum hasn't been finalized. Last year, his bid for a space near Miami Dade College got caught up in bureaucracy. Now, he says, he's interested in a couple of other downtown sites. A model in his Wynwood gallery offers a representation of his vision, complete with Botero sculptures adorning multiple floors' worth of terraces. Nader has been trying to turn his Latin American art museum into reality since at least 2014.
“Not many people understand," he says, his voice trailing off for a moment. "If it was easy, then it would have already been done. But it’s not easy. It’s hard."
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Nader's planned museum would add to downtown's growing cultural offerings, which since 2013 have been anchored by Pérez Art Museum Miami. It's easy to imagine the two institutions in competition. When it comes to household names, Nader's collection rivals those of many Miami museums.
But Nader is slow to boast about his success and explains his reasoning for choosing Miami for the new museum. “I strongly believe this is the Latin American capital of the world, and it’s going to appeal for many people who want to see this art," he says. "The museum will give a platform for artists from Mexico to Chile."
What will it cost to nab one of his works this December? They range in price from a few hundred thousand to $15 million. Nader's endeavor is expected to be the "largest and priciest" collection offered during Art Basel. Already, a few unnamed individuals have visited his Wynwood gallery and forked over $4 million in exchange for a few of his pieces.
“If you immerse your kids in the art world, they’re better people, they’re better communicators, they’re better human beings," Nader says. "This museum is about creating something valuable for the community. I’m doing the best that I can to make this happen."