Jorge Perez Wants to Rename the Miami Art Museum After Himself

For many the name of developer Jorge Perez is synonymous with the boom and bust of Miami real estate over the past decade. Now it appears Perez would much rather have his name synonymous with the Miami Art Museum, and has offered the institution a $35 million gift in exchange for naming rights.

Perez, sometimes referred to as "the Donald Trump of the Tropics," was the key figure in the explosion of development in Miami after the turn of the millennium. Through his company, the Related Group, he helped fill the Miami skyline with projects like Icon Brickell, 50 Biscayne and the Lofts Downtown. 

The 2007 real estate bust left the company in a weak position, and Perez has since turned to buying up distressed properties (though, he now has future development projects in the pipeline).

The Miami Herald reports that Perez has now offered the Miami Art Museum a $35 million donation in exchange for naming rights. The gift includes $5 million in a previous donation, $15 million in cash, and an additional $15 million worth of artwork.

Neither Perez nor MAM would comment on the speculated plan, nor has the exact possible name been mentioned.

The MAM is currently building its new location in Bicentennial Park, and is in the middle of raising $100 million.

While Perez's money could go along way to help funding, not everyone is thrilled with the prospect of a name change.

"The name of the museum is very significant," Howard Frank, husband of MAM board member Mary Frank, told the Herald. "It gives people a signal as to what the museum is all about -- and it's about Miami and the art museum in Miami. To hijack and privatize the name of the museum is completely inappropriate."

Frank said his wife would quit the board if the name change was approved.

While cultural institutions named after patrons aren't rare in South Florida, naming major public art museums after private donors isn't common. Names usually tend to focus on the style of art or location (Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago) or are named after the museum's original founders (the Whitney and Guggenheim in New York, the Carnegie in Oakland).

MAM was originally founded as the Center for the Fine Arts in 1984, but changed its name to the Miami Art Museum in 1996. The new location is expected to open in early 2013.

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