Nearly three years after signing a lease for a new gallery space at 532 Lincoln Road, global artist Romero Britto wants out, citing a raucous atmosphere, according to a lawsuit against his landlord, Denison Corporation, an entity controlled by the family of Bob Quittner.
But Britto’s efforts to break a 10-year lease with Denison hit a snag when Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Thomas Rebull rejected an emergency motion to place the gallery’s deposit rents into a court registry until the lawsuit is resolved. Bruce Weil, a partner with the firm Boies Schiller & Flexner representing Denison, said the underlying basis for Britto’s complaint is beyond the control of his client.
“We are pleased that the judge has quickly denied Romero Britto’s request to stop paying rent on his Lincoln Road art gallery,” Weil said. “Further, Britto is continuing to utilize the space and must pay his rent to the Denison Corporation while this case is being litigated.’’
Representatives for Britto could not immediately be reached for comment.
Britto’s gallery relocated to 532 Lincoln Road, a 1929-era building, from its longtime home just three blocks west on the popular retail street in 2015 because the building that housed the original gallery was sold. Quittner’s family has owned the building Britto moved into since the 1940s. According to a copy of the lease attached to the lawsuit, Britto agreed to pay a base rent of $662,000 per year in monthly installments of $55,166.
Britto alleges that Denison has breached the agreement by failing to make sure the gallery has quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the property. “For example, [Denison] has permitted crowds of vagrants to congregate at the property, thereby intimidating [Britto’s] customers and disrupting business operations on a regular basis,” the complaint said. “[Denison] has also permitted street performers to create a nuisance at the property by blaring loud music and drawing away [Britto’s] customers.”
Britto alleges that Miami Beach Police routinely arrest homeless people in front of 532 Lincoln Road for various crimes, including assault, public drunkenness, burglary and disorderly conduct.
However, on June 10, Rebull ruled that Britto’s allegations were not sufficient to grant the gallery’s request that deposit rents be placed in the court registry. He also said the evidence was not substantial enough to discharge Britto from further obligations under the lease and return the gallery’s security deposits.