Irma and Norman Braman
Norman Braman, a looming figure in Miami’s arts scene, made his first fortune retailing drugs and vitamins; his second fortune was amassed through a formidable empire of luxury car dealerships in Florida and Colorado. It’s been rumored that more than half of their reported $2.6 billion fortune, as of December 2019, according to Forbes, is invested in art, with the likes of blue-chip pieces—by Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning (they loaned major pieces to the Museum of Modern Art’s 2011 retrospective), and Alexander Calder (whose work inspired them to begin collecting in 1979)—make up their holdings in modern and contemporary art.
The Bramans aren’t afraid of placing a high bid at auction. “If you buy the best of an artist it doesn’t matter how much you pay for it,” Norman told Forbes in 2011. “The market will catch up.” They are long-attendees of the world’s top international art fair, Art Basel in Switzerland, having attended for at least 20 years. They rarely leave empty handed. In one year they added two Picassos. Within ten minutes of spotting a neon work by American minimalist Dan Flavin it was in their collection; the piece now illuminates the entrance to their Miami home. Norman is largely credited with bringing the fair to Florida. In the late 1990s, the billionaire helped convince the Swiss art fair to open its second edition in the city.
The Bramans also financed the creation of a 37,500-square-foot home for the new Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Norman told the New York Times in 2014, “Whatever the cost is, we will be building it, period.” Norman once co-owned the Philadelphia Eagles football team between 1986 and 1994. As a teenager, he was a waterboy for the team at its training camp. He also has been a long-time supporter and donor of one of Florida’s senators, Marco Rubio—even helping with Rubio’s failed attempt at the Republican nomination for President in 2016 to the tune of some $10 million.