Artist Romero Britto cites issues with homeless people, street performers and others near one of his Lincoln Road galleries in a bid to break the lease, court records show.
Britto, whose signature style includes vibrant colors and geometric shapes, claims people are bothering his customers, interrupting his business and prompting frequent arrests for public drunkenness, burglary, assault and battery,
Two companies registered to the artist are suing the landlord, The Denison Corp., a family-owned Miami Beach business, alleging Denison has done nothing to resolve his complaints about the gallery at 532 Lincoln Road, according to the Miami-Dade Circuit Court complaint.
“Denison has permitted street vendors and performers to create a nuisance at the property by drawing away Britto’s customers, blaring loud music that forces Britto to close the doors of its gallery and otherwise disrupting Britto’s business operations,” Alan Kluger, the attorney for Britto’s companies, wrote in a May 29 letter to Denison.
The landlord also “has permitted crowds of vagrants to congregate outside of Britto’s doors, which has intimidated Britto’s customers and caused them to avoid the property,” Kluger said. “These vagrants even enter Britto’s gallery, cause disturbances and leave before the authorities arrive but after customers have been scared away and Britto’s business operations have been damaged.”
Kluger, a founding member at Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, and Ryan Bollman, an associate at the firm, filed the lawsuit May 29 on behalf of HRH 818 LLC and Britto Central Inc.
Boies Schiller Flexner partner Bruce Weil represents Denison. The landlord disputes Britto’s allegations, saying it’s not responsible for controlling or overseeing what happens on the sidewalks outside its property, Weils said. Rather, this is a responsibility of the Miami Beach police and code compliance departments.
The complaint lists express and implied covenant of quiet and peaceful enjoyment counts and a constructive eviction count.
Britto is asking the court to end his lease in part because he and his gallery have been “constructively evicted” because of all the issues. The complaint also seeks an order that Denison return security deposits and pay attorney fees, damages and other costs.
Britto’s HRH 818 LLC signed a 10-year lease in 2015 calling for a base rent of $55,166 a month plus 4 percent annual increases, according to the lease. In addition, he is to pay the gallery’s share of operating costs, property taxes, utility bills, landscaping and other assessments and fees.
Total monthly payments add up to more than $80,000 a month, Kluger said in court filings.
The Britto gallery, which is open, occupies part of the 33,724-square-foot property on the southeast corner of Lincoln Road and Pennsylvania Avenue.
Britto also rents another gallery from a different landlord at 1102 Lincoln Road. No complaints about this property were raised in the lawsuit.
Ultimately, the goal is to either increase security at 532 Lincoln Road or end the lease.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Thomas Rebull denied an emergency motion filed by Kluger for future rent to be posited in a court registry instead of going to Denison.
In an order issued Sunday, Rebull cited case law that says a tenant must vacate the property to claim constructive eviction or to ask to end a lease and stop paying rent.
This was good news for Denison.
“We are pleased that the judge has quickly denied Romero Britto’s request to stop paying rent on his Lincoln Road art gallery, especially when the underlying basis for Britto’s causes of action are beyond the control of the landlord,” Weil said in an emailed statement.
Kluger, Britto’s attorney, declined comment on Rebull’s order.