ARTLURKER

A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Romero Britto reaches plea deal in DUI case

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Romero Britto’s March 2009 mugshot.

In the early hours of Thursday March 26th as most of Miami’s arts community slept sound in their beds a black 2001 Bentley careered erratically down Washington avenue, swerving in and out of lanes. At the wheel, Brazilian pseudo-artist Romero Britto, an incomprehensibly popular figure head of South Florida’s artistic veneer – a commercial eddy of culture for those who want to be seen to appreciate art (or at the very least invest financially in it), but wouldn’t touch its intellectual heart with a barge pole.

Britto’s work, the artistic equivalent of musak, has made him a household name, at least in Miami, and like other breeds of celebrity it seems that artists too have a weakness for indulgence. To paraphrase comments left on the report of his arrest by Miami New Times’ blog Riptide 2.0: Romero is a tragic binge drinker and a danger to himself and society. Presumably someone with enough money as he has can afford a driver or at the very least to take a cab.

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Romero Britto and Michael Jackson. Image courtesy of www.michaeljackson.hu

The extent of his insobriety was evidenced in the report filed by arresting officer P. Soccarras who stated that Britto’s vehicle “crossed into the left lane [of traffic] on three separate occasions” and that he “almost struck another vehicle.” Personal descriptions included “a flushed face, bloodshot watery eyes” and having “a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath.” The on-scene breathalyzer tests recorded .161 and .158, twice the legal limit of .08. This information was confirmed by Jenny Velazquez of the Miami Beach Police Department. Furthermore the suspect failed a sobriety test whilst attempting to walk on smooth, flat ground.

“I feel very embarrassed about the whole thing; l think drinking is not good,” said Britto. “I had a few drinks, and that’s what happened.”

Around 2pm today rabidly right wing radio personality and inadvertent comedian Rush Limbaugh reported that Britto has reached a plea deal in his case. The plea deal, announced today, states that Britto will lose his license for six months, perform 100 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine. Limbaugh, who is famous for supporting his feverish opinions with wildly tenuous analogies, uncharacteristically reported the simple facts of Britto’s sentencing. Taking into account his devoted audience, however, one can presume that the mere fact of his attention to this story means that just under half of America feel passionately that Britto’s circumstance somehow has something to do with race in politics, liberal tax dollar wastage or Obama’s indecision over Guantanamo Bay.

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Rush Limbaugh. Image courtesy of ZoBox Politix.

Perhaps Limbaugh, if he had a point, would have said something like this: “If the amount of tax payers money gobbled up by this behemoth of an artist and his so called art and wasted by his crew of lobbyists wasn’t enough it seems that the funds, practically stolen from ignorant toads through the sale of his Picasso-esq detritus, have not only contributed negatively to America’s crime statistics, but have placed an extra burden on our already heavily laden economy by enabling him to drive expensive cars whilst drunk, get caught and necessitate the dragging of his sorry, pompous ass through the American courts.”

This fake quote was compiled in part from a variety of comments posted in response to accounts of Britto’s arrest in March, however, if Limbaugh had actually said this then despite being hardened Limbaugh skeptics we might have been tempted to agree. Perhaps one reason why on this occasion Limbaugh refrained from his usual rant is because he himself is a product of rehabilitation from a prescription drug addiction. Tenacity it seems is not without its demons.

So for the rest of 2010 we can all rest a little easier knowing that the scourge of Britto is banned, if not from making (or rather shopping out) crappy art work, then at least from driving. And according to CBS 4 News, once he is finally allowed back behind the wheel, his cars will be outfitted for a further six months with a special tube-like device that will prevent ignition if it detects alcohol on his breath[.]

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For a heart felt apology from Britto for letting down his adoring fans please go here.

This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.

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49 Comments

  • Larissa

    I couldn’t agree more. Each time I walk past his gallery on Lincoln Road, I shudder. His lifeless and uninspired images are grotesquely robotic.

  • CLJ

    Britto’s work, the artistic equivalent of musak, has made him a household name, at least in Miami

    It’s true, on a daily basis I have heard comments like “What’s with that outfit? It looks like Britto threw up in your closet!”

  • swampthing

    I propose a toast, may our public art behemoth provide more lurid and lascivious material for lurker to ink about.

    who doesn’t totally love that jacket?

  • swampthing

    MBPD profiles: DWBB Driving While Brown in Bentley on Wash ave. pull over!

    Community Service? Burrito could be ordered to pressure-wash his bus murals, playground sculps, airport shirts, condo art, etc… while wearing emblematic overalls.

    Curious how Absolute(vodka)power turns some people’s complexion white. Is it that they just don’t see the light of day or is it the morbidity of selling out?

    This story is too rich.

  • Richard Haden

    I think Britto-Lay chips should be next, Yes? Yes? Yes? Why hasn’t the Britto man thought of that one yet. As for his community service I would ask the judge to lets his peers be his jury so that we could take the man’s paint brush away, and give him a tooth brush–make him clean public restrooms…and when he is done with that make him pass a breath test to get his paint brushes back…that would make for a good performance piece.

    I figured Rush more of a Thomas Kinkade fan…but then again, that tie he is wearing has Britto spilled all over it.

    While we are at it why not exile Britto to Key West–where he and Wyland could knock each other off fishy drunk bar stools.

  • Mister Arrow

    Richard: Britto has no Peers.I hope you don’t consider yr self a peer to Britto!
    As for his community service might I suggest he walk into the ocean and not return.

  • VALDES IS COMING

    Who cares!?

    If his art is so terrible, if he doesn’t impact your life then why even talk about him? He has money, he got a DUI. That happens every single day in Miami.

    if you think what he does isn’t art…who cares? If the public swallows it…who cares? If you think “true” art doesn’t reach enough people, no one is going to do it for you. Everyone should do their part and be accessible to people that want art in their lives.

    He did a pretty crappy thing and he should deserve whatever the courts give him. I have nothing bad to say of anyone that lives their dreams, does charitable work and made something out of nothing, reguardless if I like their art or not.

    Despite it all, i still enjoyed the read! thank you

  • Richard Haden

    Arrow,

    Yes “peer” is probably not the best word to describe a relationships between anyone critical of Britto’s current success in the art of practicing PASTICHE. However, it is possible that at the beginning of his career–previous to what is now an unfortunate inauthentic art career, there must have been other locals whose “relationships” might be considered on the level to his– to have been his peers. I can only hope that such a commercially successful hack must have at one time or another, had something close to resembling an authentic hope to make authentic art…

    I still like the idea of exiling him to Key West…they would appreciate his work down there. They already have Seward Johnson, Wyland and an assortment of other sorded practitioners, practicing artistic vulturing art values.

    Remember Arrow, the vision machine is watching you. (Virilio)

  • swampthing

    kiki, the rampant contempt for britto’s juvenile style is compounded by the fact that metro-dade-broward officials have put all their eggs in that basket-case. Those are your tax dollars at work. The wholesale endorsement is a sad commentary on public art policy, an embarrassment and shame… otherwise yes, who would care less.

  • Valdes is Coming

    You do have a good point, that may say more about city government then anything else…that’s why I try not to rely on it for anything engaging.

    At the same time we can’t dismiss some of the public art that does exist that some of us actually like.

    All this focus on him takes away from what’s really important. I promise you all it takes to convince the city is persisance and good PR. That’s it. The problem is not many are good at it.

    :-(

  • vlcane

    Not a fan of Britto’s art but I am 100% sure the author of this article would trade his current stature in the art community for Britto’s……..
    Envy is truly in my opinion the root of many problems that we as a community face on a daily basis. WE all seem to enjoy watching a person be destroyed!

  • Mr. Arrow

    Vlcane: I do not believe that Buritto has very high stature in the art community. The art community recognizes that he is an untalented artist, but a very talented self promoter. He has manufactured an easy to recognize [nauseating] signature style, loved by children and old folks. He is good a cheering up hospital lobbies.
    I would not trade my position for his. He is still chasing after the dollar like everyone else and he is talented at making money. His alcoholism is sad and I hope he finds treatment.

  • Stop Miami Danny

    “His alcoholism is sad and I hope he finds treatment”
    —but is he a sad alcoholic who needs treatment? And what do his drinking habits have to do with his work? The cult of anti-Britto is just too easy. Yet, sadly, I don’t think anyone really hit the mark here.

  • Mr. Arrow

    The guy has had more than one DUI, therefore he should seek treatment. Unless you don’t mind the possibility of him crashing into you or one of your loved ones.
    Everything has to do with everything, therefore his drinking and his self promotional ego driven artistic pursuits are interrelated.

  • Stop Miami Danny

    “The guy has had more than one DUI, therefore he should seek treatment”…guess we should address you as Dr. Arrow? Everyone in Miami drives drunk! You have no idea if he’s an alcoholic—although, really, could you blame him?

  • Mr. Arrow

    I don’t consider myself a Doctor, but I do drive in Miami and would rather know that chronic DUI offenders are off the road and are seeking treatment.
    Your “Everyone in Miami drives drunk!” statement is bullshit. Maybe you’d change your tune if your mother or child was the victim of a DUI hit and run.

  • vlcane

    As I mentioned before I am neither a fan of Mr. Britto or his work, but I am certain no artist including Mr. Arrow has had the privilege of having a one man show at the Louve.
    Stature can be interpreted differently by society but give credit where credit is due, Mr. Britto’s work many not be the most tasteful or thought provoking but he has achieved a certain level of financial freedom and artistic achievement. Arrow you are clearly aware of the struggles that many artists in this community face on a daily basis, so please do me a favor and concentrate on important topics before you turn away the small group of individuals that read your blog!

  • Richard Haden

    Vlcane,

    Not only do you read like a drunken tourista… apparently you think you are some sort of descendent of Rasputin. Well, volcano man–maestro of swill and ill repute–let me set you straight. The author of this article certainly would not seek Britto’s status. Britto has no status in the art world. Britto buys exposure; he buys space on buses; he bought space on a pyramid–on the property– with the louvre in sight. How in the hell one of his pictures ended up in a room in the Louvre is truly suspect… It surly had to do with bribery; he buys attention through being affiliated with charity…and you know what? with all that buying power he can’t even get MOCA or MAM to take one of his works for free. Now go try and dull some other arrow’s point would ya.

    And as far as thinking Britto has achieved anything other than marketing silly decorations, you might want to realize for whom you pretend to speak… for what ever audience you seem to think would leave this art blog because of our criticism of Britto would surely be the same audience who is part of the fucking problem to begin with. Anyone who embraces Britto as a positive image for the Miami arts scene is surly a part of what Miami is trying to get over… which is what Miami must get over if we want to see an identity grow in South Florida that includes a serious group of artists and patrons who want to see Miami get over its vacuous image as a tourist destination. We all want Miami to be smarter than that… don’t you think…

    Sorry Mr Vlcane but I think you had that coming.

  • Mister Arrow

    Thanks Haden and Admin.
    I think enough of my time and mind space has been squandered yaking about the Buritto.
    It’s obvious, his work is all [awful] style over substance, he is a souled out charlatan spreading his coloful shit all over our city.
    He still has time to change and hopfully he will.
    I’m done and am looking forward to the Sunday Video!
    P.S. I’ve been to the Louve and it sucks.
    El Prado at least has H. Bosch!

  • Richard Haden

    Extolling? Are you retarded? He is lucky to have gotten a polite letter at all.

    And why do you call your self “Stop Miami Danny” any way? Are you the epitome of Britto’s Miami? Miami Danny reads like you are a wanna be mob boss from Las vegas.–a sorded fan of Wayne Newton no less.

  • Stop Miami Danny

    I am sordid.
    I have a stupid name.
    I am the epitome of Britto’s Miami.
    I am a wannabe mob boss from Vegas.
    I am a fan of Wayne Newton.
    And I am retarded.
    That explains a lot…

  • vlcane

    Haden, take a step back and relax because I have yet to attack you at any moment on this blog! By the way you make such outlandish remarks about Mr. Britto I am sure that you know him personally. You clearly are aware that he buys attention and paid for exposure in a fraudulent manor. Whatever you reason, learn to act like an adult or you may be religated to playing and name calling with the children in the sand box.
    Oh by the way enjoy this video of the DRUNKED TOURISTA at the LOUVE!!!!!

    http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=55786454

  • Richard Haden

    Vlcane,

    If you think you have the intellectual balls to attack me– go for it moron. (Yes, when need be I can write like adolescent. that’s the kind of virulent rhetoric that seems appropriate for idiots like you and Britto. It is hard to maintain some sort of objectivity in light of abjectivity)
    I watched the Britto Video. Well, I still like Caruso as an actor but as far as his taste for Britto’s goes— he truly shows how shallow Hollywood actors can often be– really out of the loop…Caruso is just as ignorant as the rest of celeb status seems, that seems to be attracted to Britto scum) And Vlcane did you see the rest of the art hanging in that show? Do you really think that represents Brazilian art? If you think that, then you are as ignorant as (is) the rest of the pastiche artist works, in the rented room at the Louvre. The Louver has become the obvious toilette for Britto the shit in, wow now that is real news.

    So Vlcane or what ever you real name is…I suggest you go visit Disney Land–you’ll surly make sense to the kids and that kind of crowd, filled with children looking for eye candy…However, around this blog, all you do is attract attention to a nameless dimwit called Vlane.

    I wonder what the Louvre charges to ruin its reputation as a Museum. A lot more than just the ticker price for Britto stopping by to relieve himself in the loove “lavatory”, that’s for sure. (a room with conveniences for washing and usually with one or more toilets) You know the place…Its where the “Love toilet” is located. What’s the “Love Toilet”? You ask. Well, its on the wrong side of the Mona Lisa and on right side of the mens room door- it is the drain that leads to the sewer… Britto Gallery is down there. It is where imbeciles meet–its where one buys cheap attention–and a relation ship with the love toilet. I can make you imagine it, if you forgot how it feels and works. It is where Vlacane and Britto sit caressing each other for a good days con…sales

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1981665/the_love_toilet/

    Where does Britto not bother me so? At air ports. Its a good place to see him while running for the plane. It is a good way to get the nausea over with before getting on the plane.

  • vlcane

    For all the talk about intellect that you spew I am truly saddened to see an artist in our community who has such a need to attack someone they don’t even know. As I stated before on two separate occasions, I am not a fan of Mr. Britto or his work but we must give credit to a man that has truly marketed his art to the masses. Yes, the intentions are probably financially motivated but he is an artist at the end of the day.
    By the way richard I saw your last works at Dorsch Gallery during the group show, I found them though provoking. I know you are all about the art and you don’t care what anyone perceives about you but I think you should be a little cautious because you never know who is walking in the door at your next show. By the way, my favorite sculpture was the wooden piece which was reclining against the wall and looked to be a large card board box.
    Would you turn down a group show at Louve if it included the drunken tourista?
    Best regards,

  • Richard Haden

    Vlcane,

    Would I let my work show beside Britto? No. The Louver does not have contemporary art shows. The “Louvre Salle Notre” is some sort of rented gallery space that does not represent the Louver. How could it! But if I am wrong and was asked by some ignorant curator at the Louvre to exhibit my work along side Britto, I can state within confident resoluteness that I would not allow my work to be stained by nearness to that unsuccessful sad story of commercial art spectacle call Britto.

    I don’t measure an artist success by how much money they con out of the pedestrians and tourist… I measure and value through the success of art production by how and what an artist invest in their production, I first look at a relevant content that has mattering beyond the commodification of artist pastiche.

    I know I am being very hard on you (L) in regards to your thinking that Britto has any thing going on–as you say–at the end of the day. But you must realize that bad art does as much damage to those who are trying to learn about art and its theory as does too sophisticated theory to those who are new to understanding the complicated and various forms of discourse that is inherent to a deeper understanding of arts mode of being.

    And by the way (L) I am not worried about who hears or reads my criticisms or walks through doors to hear what I rant on about…I would repeat anything said here or speak voluminously about anything that I have asserted in other writings that I contribute to other sites…and so on…Also, I add that if Britto himself walked in to a show where my works are forsale and tried to purchase one I would refuse the sale. I don’t want my work in the proximity to work like his. I already have a history of declining sales to collectors of tourista art. [That is a hard practice or idealistic way to maintain, especially in sucking economic situations-]-but if I need money bad enough I can always find a way to work at some other worth while job rather than make a bad sell.

    At the end of the day I am sure Britto is an OK guy to go out and mug a tourista with, but as far as he being one to grant a nod to otherwise I say not.

  • Candace O'Pine

    This is fun reading, however, remember that indifference is the telltale reaction to bad work. All this anger and discussion over junk and drama gives the impression that the work is relevant and that this person is interesting – it elevates him. No one gets this crazy about the textile patterns at Pottery Barn; I would put Britto’s work in this category. I have never seen so many posts on this blog, and there is really nothing to talk about. There are some interesting topics happening within this conversation (I would argue against pastiche having such a negative connotation, for instance), so maybe it would be best to move the conversation elsewhere, away from this article – Burrito is becoming Haute Cuisine (for those of you who have been to the Louve, that means fancy food).

  • Las Vegas Dui Attorney

    I’m sure I might get hate mail for this but, and this is totally taken from my perspective, the musing of whether or not he can afford a driver or a cab escaped me. I was more astounded that he couldn’t afford a good attorney, and plead guilty. And, to say that losing your license for 6 months is a plea deal is … well it’s like saying your sixth grade education is the equivalent of a Wharton Business School degree.

  • Isabela

    Michael, I love you so much! =/ His music will live forever.
    Michael, in my heart, you’ll live forever!

  • Felo

    Keith Haring he is not… His pseudo-art is visual musak $uckses$… now poor Van Gogh that was just plain bad luck…too many Van Gogh’s out there…thank God there is just “one drunken DUI Britto”…Now I will have an excuse not to mention him in my art class…neeto!

  • Felo

    Romero Britto at the Louvre? So what… the Louvre has lowered it’s standards… stranger things have happened…

  • Felo

    Keep this in mind: Haring at the Louvre?…Basquiat at the Louvre? Still to come… Nowadays you pay your way in…

  • Yolanda Rodriguez

    What he did was very wrong and hopefully he learned a lesson, drinking and driving don’t mix …but from that to knocking his individualism is plain stupid, most people who badmouth others are envious or can’t have what the other person has. I enjoy his work very much and I think it makes a room, a modern room, not one full of old fashioned antiques fun and makes it pop. Don’t hate people.

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Romero Britto reaches plea deal in DUI case