Noblesse Oblige

obligationOne of my readers posted a very thought provoking comment on my last column about the North Miami/MOCA controversy.  Jerry wrote:

In defense of the noble, selfless efforts to relocate the museum: It looks like without such drastic changes, the city, state and country could be flooded with more starving artists and starving art collectors.

Our national economic doldrums are bad enough without encouraging conditions that force rich people to suffer for their art donations.

In all honesty I have to admit it never even occurred to me to try to empathize with the plight of the donors, many of whom must stay awake at night worrying about such things tax deductions, tax shelters, and the like.  The fear of facing “potentially significant negative tax consequences” must put a serious crimp in their style.  I mean, really!  Think of the horror a potential donor must encounter if he can’t write off his “generosity” to the IRS!  It does bring a tear to the eye, doesn’t it?

Another thing I also never considered is that, as members of the privileged class, by having to work in North Miami, trustees and donors are forced to conduct business on a daily basis with the denizens of a working-class community.  This must put a tremendous strain on their delicate sensibilities.  After all, these folks are accustomed to consorting with the glitterati, not mere commoners.  Let’s face it.  North Miami is just so bourgeois!

Having come to this realization, and feeling their pain, I now completely understand the board’s desire to move their treasured art collection to Miami Beach, where it will be much more appreciated by the like-minded fellows of their social calibre.

I realize that most of us have only experienced fleeting glimpses of the beautiful people by thumbing through the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and South Beach Magazine.  So, as a public service, I thought I’d provide a bit of a tutorial of what life is like on the other side of the tracks.  We all need to gain a greater understanding of why the MOCA folks simply MUST get out of North Miami and be afforded the opportunity to associate themselves with the elite of the Bass Museum of Art.  Unless we put ourselves in their shoes, we can’t possibly begin to understand their plight.

This is what high society looks like.  Enjoy!

The Bass Museum of Art would like you to meet the president, George Lindemann, Jr.:

meet the presidentAccording to his own profile on Tumblr, George Lindemann, Jr. would like you to know:

George Lindemann Jr. BioGeorge Lindemann, Jr.’s pedigree is enviable.  According to the New York Times, the senior George Lindemann is one of the richest men in America, and both of his parents are serious philanthropists and patrons of the arts.

“Though rarely appearing in the business press, Mr. Lindemann cuts a prominent figure in the haut monde circles of the Upper East Side, Greenwich, Conn., and Palm Beach, Fla. His wife, Dr. Frayda B. Lindemann, serves as vice president on the Metropolitan Opera’s board. For decades, the couple has sponsored an artist development program at the opera house that provides training to promising young singers.”

The NYT also gave a glowing description of the Lindemann offspring:

“His children have carved out more public profiles. His son Adam Lindemann is a prominent contemporary art collector who lives in an avant-garde black concrete town house hidden behind an Upper East Side carriage house. A daughter, Sloan Lindemann Barnett, has been a fixture on the society pages in San Francisco and New York, where she sits on the board of New York University’s law school.

Another son, George Lindemann Jr., was a highly ranked equestrian. In 1995, a jury convicted him of charges related to killing horses for insurance proceeds. He is now an art collector and philanthropist in Miami.”

WAIT, WHAT?

Did I just read, “KILLING HORSES?”

Oh, yes I did!  Oh, my!

Here are some of the headlines about this scandalous story when it first broke.

From The Day:

The DayFrom the New York Times:

New York TimesFrom the Sun-Sentinel:

Sun-SentinelFrom the Chicago Tribune News:

Chicago Tribune News

The outcome of the trial was even more astonishing, according to a blog by Christopher Fountain:

Christopher FountainAside from being an ex-con, George Lindemann, Jr.’s resume includes yet another extra-curricular activity.

From the Martin County Times:

Martin County TimesThe TCPalm article that the Martin County Times referred to reported that George Lindemann, Jr. is not only a lover of the arts, but that he also likes to influence elections if the outcome would suit his interests.  In Martin County, Florida, he stood to benefit from a project that would help his agricultural real estate business.

In Martin County, Lindemann Jr. is known for the controversial Lake Point project in southwestern Martin County and his campaign contributions to five pro-business candidates for countywide office since 2008.

Commissioner Doug Smith and former Commissioner Ed Ciampi received a total of $9,000 each from Lindemann and his companies in the past five years, records show. Former Commissioner Patrick Hayes received a total of $7,000.

Lindemann-related companies contributed a total of $5,000 to Brandon Tucker, an agricultural real estate broker who lost a bid to replace Ciampi in Commission District 5.

Tucker said he received an envelope containing $500 checks from 10 companies based at 4500 Biscayne Blvd. during a meeting with representatives of Lindemann in May.

That sure does sound familiar, doesn’t it?

Oh, wait!  Lindemann must have taken a page out of the playbook of another member of the Miami Beach jet set, Russell Galbut, who also donated $5,000.00 from 10 companies to North Miami Beach EX-Mayor Myron Rosner’s re-election campaign in 2011.  Russell donated an additional $5K to Myron in the run-off election a couple weeks later.  In Russell’s case, Myron sat on the Miami-Dade County Board of Appeals and was in the position to sway a vote in Russell’s favor that would save his company over $1.8 million dollars.  Those donations paid off.  The Board ruled in favor of the Galbut clan.

Unsurprisingly, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust found NO PROBABLE CAUSE.

Yes, the rich are not only different, but they’re treated differently, too.

So, folks, there you have it.  Now that we all know how the other half lives, we can truly understand why the plebeians of North Miami are just not suitable enough patrons of the arts.  The MOCA board of trustees are justified in their aspiration to hobnob with their own kind.

Instead of trying to keep the museum in North Miami, we should be wishing the board of trustees a bon voyage.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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7 Comments

  1. Jerry says:

    Sometimes life imitates art.

    In this case, will art imitate crime?

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  2. ronald nomi says:

    Unfortunately this is how all art museums in the country operate: they form a board of wealthy people that can bring money. Welcome to the corporate world of art. I worry more about the competence of the staff, the executive director and the chief curator. Few will dispute that the current MOCA interim director has failed to connect not only with North Miami’s intelligentsia, but with the entire county’s art community. Few will dispute either his credentials. The man might lack charisma but he knows what he is doing and he has put on a terrific programming at the MOCA. The new rogue director, in turn, may suffer of the opposite. He is a mover and a shaker in certain circles, more a charlatan than an intellectual, but sociable and committed to his community (which excludes the whites and the rich). What he lacks is not charisma, it is intellectual capacity and credencials. He is a joke, and by enacting dubious and corrupt hiring practices the city is not showing either leadership nor competence to house a cutting-edge museum.

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    1. really now... says:

      Well my guess is Mr. Babacar M’Bow, the new director, can spell “credentials.” Have you met him? Spoken with him? Read his CV? Discussed art or cultural history with him? Are you certain he has not family members, for instance, that are “white”? And no friends who are rich? Just curious…

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    2. Jerry says:

      Any relation to Klaus Nomi, LOL?

      http://www.youtube com/watch?v=gma5IUNMTn0

      (Insert a period in the space before “com.”)

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  3. NMB Lady says:

    Neigh, neigh…very disturbing, but now I know where they got that plot for “Law and Order”.

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  4. […] during the month of June:  The MOCA battle raged on, and on, and on., while the man who would be director quietly made plans for the museum’s grand […]

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  5. […] may remember that Braman, Yarkin & Co. looked down their too-good-for-the-likes-of-North-Miami noses and decided to leave because, well, you know, it’s so hard to get good help these […]

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