By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Today, top artists won't criticize Broad openly, frightened that he won't purchase their works, a subtle form of boycott that can ruin careers. And art-world professionals, such as gallery workers, worry that if they displease Broad, they may lose their jobs or see art deals scuttled.
His "rather extraordinary collection ... would be great downtown," explains one art-world insider who insisted on anonymity because of Broad's influence on her profession. But, "he's the extreme negotiator. He's going to do what's personally most beneficial for him."
Among those benefits, Broad is widely seen as keen to get his name on buildings and structures.
"I don't think he ever intended to go to Beverly Hills, anymore than he intends to go to Santa Monica," says another art-world insider. "I think he's used [the cities] as a negotiating tool to get a favorable deal from L.A. What he really wants is city land for nothing."
He agrees that Broad's museum would be "terrific" downtown, but says it's clear that "what he needs is a place to store his collection with exhibition space."
Buttressing that view — that Broad's underlying plan is to wangle free land for his foundation's storage and offices — documents detailing his Santa Monica proposal show that he intended to use only one-third of the proposed Santa Monica museum to exhibit art. Two-thirds was slated for other uses by his foundation.
These and other revelations have left many community leaders, City Hall critics and everyday taxpayers uneasy. Talks between Los Angeles politicians and Broad are officially traceable to November, yet the public, five-member Grand Avenue Authority, which holds jurisdiction over land use in The Grand project area, has all but stopped functioning in public since that time.
The authority, which includes City Councilwoman Perry and Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina and three non-elected appointees, has canceled almost every scheduled meeting since late last year.
Ultimately, the Broad deal may be less about his hubris and more about the hubris of city and county politicians who insisted that downtown needed the Grand Avenue luxury project.
For years, several development experts warned that The Grand would require massive public subsidies. But Eli Broad convinced Villaraigosa, Perry, Molina and other key players that a five-star hotel and designer shops were essential complements to Walt Disney Concert Hall, MOCA and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
City and county politicians embraced Broad's vision, approving big subsidies for The Grand, even as regular L.A. residents waited for City Hall to provide basic services, such as sidewalk repair.
As has become clear, The Grand was not financially viable. Construction of the condos, hotel and shops has no known start date and is three years behind. The developer, The Related Cos., has been granted numerous late-fee waivers. Yet Angelenos are being made to pay higher fees on everything from trash collection to electricity.
What is this museum proposal really about? It may be that politicians such as Villaraigosa and Perry see Broad's new plan as a glimmering exit strategy, a prize to deflect from the never-built, if unfortunately titled, The Grand.