Miami-Dade County

Court to Miami Dade College: Pay art dealer’s legal bill in fight over museum bid

Miami art dealer Gary Nader in his Wynwood gallery on April 6.
Miami art dealer Gary Nader in his Wynwood gallery on April 6. cjuste@miamiherald.com

Miami-Dade College must pay art dealer Gary Nader’s legal fees in litigation related to his frustrated bid to build a cultural center at the school’s downtown campus, a state appeals court has ruled.

The order by a three-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeal sends the matter back to a lower court to determine the amount of fees MDC owes the art dealer’s Nader+Museu partnership. The order, which also denied MDC’s request that Nader pay the college’s legal fees, came in a tangled and contentious legal case arising out of the public institution’s now-canceled bid to redevelop a parking lot at its Wolfson Campus.

Nader, whose proposal for a Latin American art museum was ranked second out of three submissions by a college review committee, publicly alleged that MDC’s outside attorneys had colluded with top-ranked Related Group. When Nader attempted to pursue a legal bid protest, the college demanded he post a $2.3 million bond.

Nader’s group refused, arguing the “excessive” figure was meant to discourage their challenge. Nader+Museu and MDC then engaged in a series of court battles over the bid protest and the bond that culminated on Monday with the appeal court order. The court ordered the school to cover the private partnership’s legal costs in dismissing as “premature” a petition that MDC had filed against Nader’s group over the bond.

Nader’s attorney, William Riley, called the court decision a “victory” for the art dealer. He said in an email Tuesday that he did not yet know the amount of the fees he and his clients believe MDC owes.

A spokesman for MDC said college officials would not comment, citing ongoing legal issues.

Nader+Museu has also filed a separate lawsuit against the college seeking public records their attorneys believe would show collusion between Related officials and MDC’s outside attorneys. That complaint is pending.

Nader prompted the public competition by submitting an unsolicited bid to MDC last year for a museum topped by condo towers.

Last week, the college’s board of trustees unanimously voted to cancel the competition without awarding a contract. Trustees cited the feud with Nader and the risk of ongoing litigation.

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