Tuesday June 19, 2007

Marty Margulies is taking back his sculpture collection, which has been on loan to FIU since 1994. Why? One possibility is that it’s fallout from the MAM building flap (Margulies opposes the building, and a prominent FIU trustee is also a trustee at the museum). But my inside sources (!) have a different story: FIU has been taking crappy care of the outdoor sculptures. They have often been rusty, and on one occasion, a construction bulldozer supposedly backed into one of them. BTW, I still have yet to hear an explanation of why Margulies opposes the new MAM building that makes sense to me. Anyone??

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  1. I should not name myself    Wed Jun 20, 12:05 AM #  

    that’s because dean madique is moron.

  2. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal    Wed Jun 20, 12:21 AM #  

    Me Neither…I would hope such a prominent Art Collector would support all local arts efforts…

  3. Nut Shell    Wed Jun 20, 08:18 AM #  

    In a nutshell I think he radically thinks that Public funds should be used in a better way.
    Schools, roads, hospitals

    Private funds should build museums, with perhaps a little public money.

    He knows that the wealthy people on the board of MAM could build the museum in the blink of an eye without asking the public for a penny.

  4. alesh    Wed Jun 20, 08:51 AM #  

    Yes, that’s the stock answer, and that’s what opponents of the museum (including Margulies himself) will of course say. And it’s possible that really is his reason.

    But be real. Doesn’t Margulies go for all the public exceptions and sweetheart deals he can in his development business? And wouldn’t a big new art museum make his collection even more prominent? On the face of it, he stands to benefit from the museum.

  5. Duran    Wed Jun 20, 09:14 AM #  

    I think that’s exactly it though Alesh, he doesn’t want to live in the shadow of MAM, Margulies wants to be top dog in Miami. But with MAM looking to be Miami’s premiere art museum, that could potentially leave Margulies collection in the dust. Truly, I think this is all about egos clashing. And if he actually agrees with the claim he is making about the county not using public funds to build museums, why doesn’t he cut a nice check to the people at MAM or donate a few pieces? Hmmmm?

  6. Manola Blablablanik    Wed Jun 20, 11:32 AM #  

    Indeed, wtf is the Cultural Affairs Department for? Our city/state funds are already going there anyway to support art & plenty of capital grants exist for such projects.

  7. latinbombshell    Wed Jun 20, 11:33 AM #  

    My apologies, Maria made that previous comment, not Manola. :-)

  8. otto    Wed Jun 20, 03:49 PM #  

    Actually I think the reason that he is removing the sculptures is because he is installing a large Sculpture show in his Warehouse and it has nothing to do with his relationship with FIU. He just needs pieces to put up a good show in his warehouse.

  9. tommy    Wed Jun 20, 04:36 PM #  

    The next time I see martie I’m gonna ask him to put one in my back yard.

  10. Misc.    Wed Jun 20, 07:27 PM #  

    Marty blew a fuse and threatened to take away his sculptures to the University of Florida campus after the new art museum building at FIU wasn’t named after him. But it didn’t matter to FIU that Marguilles loaned them millions of dollars worth of sculptures and helped them create the image of the biggest sculpture park in the country, as it was obviously a matter of funding and I suspect, political motives. It could be argued, on the contrary, that Marguilles just basically dumped them all fiu because he really did not have the afforable or appropriate place for them; before they were at FIU, sometime in the early nineties, a majority of these sculptures were on permament exhibtion near the ocean—I forget where exactly—and were getting blasted by sand and salt. These sculptures weren’t in perfect condition to begin with and when they were transferred to FIU, the Museum’s minial budget, year after year, could not allow for appropriate care or conditioning of the work. In addition, these sculptures, execpt for the corten steel ones, weren’t made for permament exhibition outdoors, especially in Miami: these sculptures have been damaged and abushed and god knows what by fiu students, hurricanes and yes, neglect in a lot of ways, which I won’t get into. When there aren’t the resources to do the right type of work, you can’t do a whole lot. When that happens over the course of years, you wind up not giving a shit, and that’s probably more about the philosophy we hold against art than it is about funding. I think that Marguilles is doing the right thing by taking his sculptures away. (BTW, these are sculptures by well known and respected artists, mostly from the sixites and seventies, like Caro and Judd). He feels betrayed and he’s taking it out on everyone.

  11. Ryan    Wed Jun 20, 11:13 PM #  

    I agree with #3. Margulies is a smart man and very committed to modern art. However, our city is failing on so many basic levels that the rich can fund museums.

  12. harumi    Thu Jun 21, 12:01 PM #  

    I know Marty took away most of his photograph collection from warehouse to somewhere, I think NY.
    too bad lots the great art is leaving from Miami.

  13. Franklin    Thu Jun 21, 02:09 PM #  


  14. respectfully withheld    Thu Jun 21, 05:52 PM #  

    From the inside out # 10 has it mostly right.
    Enough said. They are his to do what he pleases with. The sculpture show at the Warehouse is going to blow the pants off anything any museum in Miami could pull off. We are all in for a treat. Forget about the why and the politics and get ready to experience the art.

  15. cohen    Thu Jun 21, 06:05 PM #  

    FIU does not care about those sculptures,,, im glad they are being moved….

  16. R Emmer    Sun Jun 24, 10:52 AM #  

    Many people oppose the Miami Art Museum taking $100 Mil worth of public waterfront park land because the Miami Art Museum has no art collection and no endowment. (MAM ranks 147 out of 147 in a survey of American museums.) In addition, MAM wants the taxpayers to pay for its $140 Mil building to house its nonexistent collection.

    10,000 homeowners in New York City have better art collections in their living rooms than exist at Miami Art Museum. So should taxpayers give them $300 Mil each?

  17. alesh    Sun Jun 24, 11:59 AM #  

    No art collection ? I think the opponents of the MAM building would benefit their argument by trimming the lies out of it. There ARE legitimate arguments against the building, and hammering on the stuff people know isn’t true is doing those arguments a disservice.

  18. R Emmer    Sun Jun 24, 01:07 PM #  

    Isn’t true? In 2005 Miami Art Museum only had 3 “works of art” they felt worth insuring. For $55,000.

    Art should be judged by quality and not quantity. OK. MAM ranks 147 out of 147 in quantity. That is the definition of “no collection”. Last place. MAM feels little need for insurance coverage. Why not? Because they have no collection.

    Just because someone has a canvas of five dogs smoking cigars playing poker on felt does not mean they have a collection.

    Hedge Funds managers spend more on art every day than MAM has spent in the last 20 years. This gap will widen as art prices go up and as investable assets increase.

    Who will cover MAM’s operating losses? Who will pay for all the salaries?

  19. alesh    Sun Jun 24, 01:33 PM #  

    Um . . . could you enlighten us as to where you’re getting this information?

  20. R Emmer    Sun Jun 24, 02:14 PM #  

    All public information. American Association of Museums and “New York Times”. “New York Times” has many articles on the prolific buying of art by hedge fund managers. Russians and Chinese are now huge purchasers of art according the the President of Christies USA. Stated On Public Television Sunday June 24th.

    One hedge fund manager is reputed to spend $250 to $350 Mil per year on art. (He makes $1 Bil+).

    Miami Art Museum with no endowment and few patrons cannot compete. Do you know any hedge fund managers, Russians or Chinese who want to give art to Miami?

    Why should the taxpayers get stuck with the bill again? Why should the taxpayers lose waterfront park space for such a weak excuse?

  21. alesh    Sun Jun 24, 02:47 PM #  

    I’m not talking about hedge fund managers. That’s not relevant. I’m talking about the Miami Art Museum. I find nothing on the AAM website on in the NYT that rates art museums against each other.

    But the real point such an analysis would miss is that the MAM is barely 11 years old. Show me how much of a collection any museum has after being in existence for 11 years. Show me how fast typical museum collections grow vs. how fast the MAM’s collection is growing. And then try to convince me that the collection wouldn’t grow faster with a large prominent building.

    Your argument reduces to “Miami doesn’t have a world-class art museum, therefore Miami shouldn’t have a world-class art museum. Also, there are rich people in Russia.”

  22. R Emmer    Sun Jun 24, 10:27 PM #  

    You should be talking about hedge fund managers. And you should be talking about incredibly rich people worldwide. Because those are the people buying art. Buying great art. No museum nowadays can buy a collection. (Unless you are the Getty or the Met.) No museum can compete in the international market for great art. Miami Art Museum gets the paintings of dogs playing cards.

    There are some excellent collections in Miami but as you probably know those collections are private and several serious collectors have their own museums. You have probably visited the Rubell Family Collection, the Margulies Warehouse and Norman Braman has been an excellent patron of the Museum of Contempary Art in N. Miami. Now we learn well known collectors Carlos and Roas De La Cruz are building their own museum, in the Design District. So there you go. Big Miami collectors do not give great art to the Miami Art Museum. And nationwide museums are almost always built with private donations.

    By the way, the Miami Art Museum is designed by one of the most famous architects in the world. It is in a location very convenient to mass transit and numerous garages. It was considered a large prominent building.

    And tell me? Who covers the operating losses?

  23. alesh    Mon Jun 25, 08:54 AM #  

    FYI, operating losses are the result of mismanagement and poor budgeting, and are much more likely in an organization with massive fixed costs such as the PAC.

    Anyway, you should check out the two downstairs exhibitions at the MAM now: one is of recent acquisitions to the collection, the other is of recent gifts to the collection by the Collector’s Council, a group of prominent local collectors. And while Margulies and a others are absent from the CC, I think it pretty well gives lie to the idea that collectors are not behind the museum. More and more of them are getting on board.

    I take it by your refusal to substantiate your claims (e.g. “MAM ranks 147 out of 147 in quantity”) despite my repeated requests that you do so to means that they can’t be substantiated.

    As I said before, I’m not a gung-ho 100% in MAM-booster. I think there are some problems with the museum and with the proposed plan, and issues in general that I’d like to see ironed out. I just think some of the arguments against it are laughable and intellectually dishonest.

  24. R Emmer    Mon Jun 25, 11:00 AM #  

    What an obnoxious accusation. My claims can of course be substantiated. I did not expect you to believe me so I told you where to find the facts. Look it up yourself. Then you can prove to yourself I am telling the truth. God forbid you believe me. Look it up. MAM ranks 147 out of 147. Last place.

    Perhaps you are not in business? The Carnival Performing Arts Center has massive fixed costs and massive operating costs. But the PAC Center has opportunities to create income. The proposed MAM will have very large fixed costs and very large operating costs. Unfortunately MAM will have little ability to generate revenues. (MAM has a piddling collection and no endowment.) Like Parrot Jungle and the PAC the public and Miami-Dade administrators are being sold promises. Parrot Jungle has not paid its mortgage once in 4 years. The PAC is losing $600,000 per month…approximate. (You can look it up.)

    By the way, if Miami-Dade County is spending massive amounts of money covering losses at the PAC, Parrot Jungle and the proposed MAM and Science Museum then there will be much less available for hundreds of other worthwhile arts organizations. Right?

  25. Anonymous was a woman    Wed Jun 27, 01:49 PM #  

    R Emmer, with much respect, yours is a well-reasoned but fundamentally right-wing position. I for one think there should be more not less public funding for the arts (AND for the homeless, health care for the poor, the environment, etc.). Maybe those billionaire hedge funders you mention should get a slightly smaller property tax break.

    A few factual corrections: MAM went from 147 to 14 on that phantom list, according to Riley in Sunpost. Please go see their two current collection shows before posting your (I hope civil) response. About $8 million worth of art is on view, and that’s just one year’s worth of acquisitions. Killer pieces by Aitken, Lam, etc., which are now in a PUBLIC collection, recalled from the oblivion of some (generous) rich guy’s apartment.

    MAM’s collection ranks high in a city that’s unusually blessed with hundreds of strong private collections. All the ones that are bigger (Rubells, Cisneros, etc.) are internationally famous.

    But much more to the point: this isn’t a horse race! Why should any of us even care about this collection nonsense? I would be in favor of building a kick-ass Herzog and de Meuron building for one of our great (non-collecting) kunsthalles (like Moore Space) if it had been they whom the voters had voted for. As long as the walls are never empty…and they won’t ever be b/c (like every public museum and unlike most private collection spaces) MAM also shows works on loan from other (great) collections.

    With much respect, if it had been up to those with your point of view, we’d have no Met, no National Gallery, no Lacma…

  26. R Emmer    Wed Jun 27, 02:23 PM #  

    To: AWAW

    My point is that billionaire hedge fund managers do not live in Miami, they have many far more attractive options. But experts must acknowledge that billionaire hedge fund managers and other super wealthy people worldwide are purchasing great art. How can the Miami Art Museum with no endowment and a piddling collection compete for new works?

    You show sympathy for the homeless, the uninsured and the needy. If the Carnival PAC Center, Parrot Jungle, Miami Art Museum and the Miami Science Museum suck up the vast majority of the public tax dollars not obligated to contractual obligations like police, fire, waste, then there will be less money for hundreds of other needy causes.

    Voters voted to promote “Head Start” programs, not to give away waterfront park land. Read the referundum question. In fact, a more recent survey was done by the firm of Goody Clancy. Their survey showed that 91% of residents polled wanted the City to acquire more park land. Sort of the opposite to giving away waterfront park land, don’t you think?

  27. Anonymous was a woman    Thu Jun 28, 03:47 PM #  

    Thanks, R Emmer. We disagree very sharply, but I appreciate your zeal.

    I do get your (nuanced!) point about the hedge funders. God I hate talking about money, but here goes: Yes, the art market is up up up. In some ways, yes, this has put a strain on all non-profit collecting museums. In other ways, it’s actually helped them grow their collections, thanks to greater involvement by philanthropic patrons. Case in point: MAM’s collection, which again objectively is not “piddling” in any way (please refrain from unnecessarily insulting language), has actually doubled since the hedge funders and the Chinese and the Russians and the whole art market boom. It’s now 14th out of 147 museums in its category (sorry to use your own arguments against you).

    Here I reassert my MAIN point, which is that I have yet to understand why this facetious criticism of the collection is even all that relevant to the building project, much less why anyone would singlehandedly want to use it to deprive the whole of Miami of what will surely one day be a massive invaluable public collection, not to mention depriving the city of what will be the most advanced examples of architecture in the southern United States. (These buildings will blow everybody’s minds.) Worst of all, this whole line of argumentation reduces art to just another luxury good. I repeat what I said before about the great value of kunsthalles and museums that take loans; see for example MAM’s current Tamayo show, which includes an incredible painting on loan all the way from the Nagoya museum in Tokyo, and many others on loan that haven’t been seen by anyone except their private owners for decades. (Again, until you’ve seen the current MAM shows and understood their implications for future growth, your opinions are going to be uninformed.)

    The public has to fight tooth and nail for every tax dollar that actually goes toward the public good, and in this sense museum park is a great victory. We can criticize aspects of parrot jungle, the pac, and the museums, but it’s crucial to not lose sight of the fact that ultimately such institutions are synonymous with what little Miami will ever have as far as a civic life. Miami has a severe homelessness problem, but its most dire problem (for everyone who isn’t homeless and for the homeless as well) is that it’s charging headlong toward a future of extreme urban alienation and suffocation. The only medicine for this is civic institutions like, yes, the parrot people; without them and others like them, who’s going to want to raise their kids here 30 years from now? Another relevant stat I’ve come across is that city analysts estimate that the museums will bring in billions in increased revenue for Miami.

    I’ll take your advice and reread the referendum. From what I understand, though, it was at least clear to voters that the bond in question was going not to the homeless or anything else but to a cultural project. Even if it’s true that it didn’t specify every detail, the issue in all its dimensions was debated ferociously in the media and on the street; those paying attention were probably the same who showed up to vote. Regardless of how you voted (did you vote?), we must respect this, especially since it was a solid 2/3 majority that voted in favor.

    It doesn’t surprise me that 91% would say yes when asked if it would be nice if Miami had more park space. I wonder how many would say yes to Miami having more cultural offerings. Unlike the collection issue which I hope you’ll put to rest, the issue of green space is hugely important. At the cost of giving up my anonymity, I’ll refer you to what I submitted in the upcoming Diet newsletter, so that I can finally stop writing and take a nap.

    Thanks again, R Emmer!

  28. R Emmer    Fri Jun 29, 01:02 AM #  

    I wish you would use accurate information. You are comparing apples and bathtubs.

    Miami Art Museum ranks 147 out of 147 in “works of art owned”. That is last place. If MAM doubled its “works of art” owned MAM would still rank 147, or maybe 146.

    You keep quoting another statistic which is “percentage increase in works of art owned”, maybe I have the words wrong but that is what it is. True MAM added works to its “collection”. But even if MAM adds 100 “works” a year/8 works per month it would take 1,000 years to own as many works as its Miami Beach superior The Wolfsonian.

    So I am right. MAM ranks last in “works of art owned”.

    I worry for the taxpayers who get stuck paying 55% of their incomes on housing and taxes because our politicans are so desperate to get invited to cocktail parties they vote to give away all the taxpayers money on less than honorable causes. And I worry for the poor sick kid with the single uninsured parent who cannot afford a doctor because the County spent all its money on a huge monument to a 3-4 rich people who were connected enough to hire the right lobbyists to con the naive politicans out of the taxpayers money. Sounds sort of sleazy doesn’t it?

  29. The Equalizer    Fri Jun 29, 08:06 AM #  

    I really feel that I must jump in at this point.

    Mr. REmmer you need to provide the link that backs up the statement that they rank 147 out of 147 in “works of art owned”.

    Simply guide us to when you found this fact.

    Also, you cannot compare the Wolfsonian to MAM that is comparing Apples to Toasters.

    I do not support the MAM move to the park, but I am finding it hard to agree with your approach to this dialogue, you are beginning to sound like a damn fool.

  30. Warren Buffett    Sat Jun 30, 01:53 AM #  

    The Equalizer and Anonymous was a Woman and Alesh sound like people who think money grows on trees. And they appear to think residents only exist to support their individual pet projects.

    I think elected officials should have a sacred respect for the taxpayers money.

    Too often Miami-Dade County and City of Miami elected officials spend the residents money with no respect or regard for real life. Some people have to pay rent and feed their families. The median income in Miami-Dade County is approximately $28,000 per year. 30% of families live below the poverty level. Personal incomes have grown 30% the past 5-6 years, yet muncipal budgets have grown 80% or more.

    You cannot keep spending money like drunken sailors.

  31. The Equalizer    Sat Jun 30, 10:23 AM #  

    Mr. Buffett….I stated that I do not support the MAM’s move to the park.

    The foolish spending of tax payer money for a new museum [no matter how “hot and sexy” the new building will be] less than a mile from the old MAM is fucking insane.

    Remember the CFA prior to being renamed MAM was designed by a hot and sexy architect.

    Building museums like building sport stadiums and performing art centers [primarily for ballet and symphonic music] is FUCKING RIDICULOUS!

    WAKE UP!

  32. Warren Buffett    Sat Jun 30, 05:58 PM #  

    Apologies to The Equalizer.

    Will the new taxpayer funded Museum Art Museum and the new taxpayer funded Miami Science Museum eventually get sold at steep discounts, much like the City of Miami sold the Miami Arena?

    Will MAM and the Science Museum even get started and finished?

    The Miami Arena cost the taxpayers $50 Mil to $100 Mil in capital costs, principal & interest and operating losses. Manny Diaz ordered it sold for $28 Mil, a significant loss to the taxpayers. How large a loss will the taxpayers take with MAM and the Science Museum? They are looking for $500 Mil between them. And they project huge operating losses.

    Why can’t either Museum get their funding privately? In the 2000’s most major cities realize they cannot afford to fund the wish list of every “special” donor to whichever politician is in charge at that time. When will Miami catch up with reality?

  33. straight from the source    Sat Jun 30, 07:29 PM #  

    Margulies is more interested in helping the community than building an art museum (hence his contribution of the youth center in overtown). His warehouse, which is open to the public for exhibition, is privately funded by him and he doesn’t even charge for admission. Clearly he wants nothing more than to educate and benefit the community with art. However, spending the city’s money on an art museum would just be silly. There are way too many other priorities that need to be taken care of first. the city of miami is clearly in no position to be spending money they don’t have on something that is merely a luxury and not a necessity. If all the rich, snooty people of miami want a new museum, tell them to fund it themselves. :)
    as for the sculptures being removed from FIU: they’ve been there for over ten years already. it’s time to change their location and let another institution have them for a while. If you lent over ten million dollars of sculpture to an establishment, wouldn’t you be insulted to find out that Frost gets a museum named after him and Margulies gets nothing for donating five times that much?
    seems pretty reasonable to me.