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The Palm Beach Show Group (PBSG) is suing city authorities for allowing the organisers of Art Miami free use of a publically owned site for a new 60-dealer fair. They filed a legal complaint last week citing the lack of an open bidding process to allow other organisers the opportunity to pitch for the space.

The Tent Site in West Palm Beach is located only a short walk from the Palm Beach County Convention Center where PBSG hold larger fairs in December and February.

CEO of Palm Beach Show Group Scott Diament told ATG: “There should be a minimum 30-day notice period to allow us and others to bid to use space. We can prove the decision process was not legal as specific statutes preclude this kind of thing.

“We pay rent to the Convention Centre but they are not paying rent for this site. Why is the site being tied up for 3 years for zero rent to a profit-making enterprise? Nothing has been discussed or thought through. They’ve made a big error.”

“Proper Process”

The Art Miami group hit back and said they will continue selling stands for the ‘Palm Beach Modern and Contemporary Art Fair’, set to run from January 12-15, 2017.

The company’s partner and director Nick Korniloff said: “The commission made their decision unanimously. We’re confident the legal review will show everything was done in a legal manner and with a proper process. PBSG are making a tactical move to try and slow us down in marketing the fair.”

He added that they had “made numerous attempts to secure dates at the Convention Center but that they had been “blocked”.

“We were offered dates in April but that’s a non-starter. It’s outside the high season; the market moves to New York in March.”

When asked whether PBSG was deliberately trying to keep the Art Miami group out of Palm Beach, Diament said: “We’ve not done anything to keep them out of Palm Beach. When you rent space at the Convention Centre you get protection from similar events taking place within in a 30-day window. This is the industry standard and it’s a reasonable measure to stop replica events being held back to back.”

Tent Site

The Tent Site has been used as a fair location before but control of the plot now comes under the remit of the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). Diament said that the CRA’s decision to grant a ‘license’ to the Art Miami group rather than a lease allowed them to avoid “proper discourse, debate and an open bidding process”.

PBSG currently rent the Tent Site for around 100 car-packing spaces from their show in February and they pointed out that the city will now be forgoing this income.

Market Sectors

Korniloff said that Art Miami’s new fair was targeted at a different sector to PBSG’s ‘Jewelry, Art and Antique Show’.

 “We do not consider ourselves competitors,” he said. “We’re focused on modern, post-war, contemporary and emerging art which is different to their shows. Their desire is to own and control the market in Palm Beach.

“It’s frustrating to be continuously stopped by objections from other events who perceive us as competitors. We now have a signed agreement in place to use the Tent Site and will continue to operate as normal and carry on with the bookings. We had 15 dealers sign up in the first week.”

Diament said: “We’re not against them holding a fair. Our lawsuit is to make city council do the right thing. I’m a capitalist and believe in the free market. Where we question what has happened is in the process of granting the license.”