- The Vered Gallery
, at 68 Park Place in East Hampton, was shut down by police order Saturday evening during the height of its opening Memorial Day Weekend reception featuring an exhibition of well-known international fashion photographer Steven Klein
Ruth Vered showing signs of indignation over the incident as she is escorted into
police custody. Photo courtesy of Janet Lehr
Eyewitnesses to the event report that a fleet of eight East Hampton Village Police patrol cars arrived at approximately 8:30 p.m. at the gallery which is located at the corner of the village courtyard walkway that faces the Reutershan parking lot, prior to taking the owner in a squad car to headquarters.
The incident was preceded by warnings by East Hampton Village police citing the consumption of alcohol in a public space as exhibition goers wandered into the courtyard from the well-attended event. Ruth Vered, a long-time gallery owner and resident of East Hampton, was handcuffed by police in front of the gathering crowd of exhibit attendees and on-lookers. In addition, all liquor on the premises, including back-up inventory was confiscated.
The popular gallery, well-known for leading contemporary art, is showcasing the polaroid preparatory photographs of Klein's fashion campaigns over the past decade. The opening was scheduled to be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday evening.
According to Janet Lehr, partner in the gallery, an earlier visit by the police transpired without incident. "The police came and spoke to Vered, and requested that the crowd outside of the gallery move back inside, which everyone did." Lehr further elaborated that "there was no rowdiness, and there was no problem."
Police usher Ruth Vered from her gallery amid exhibition attendees.
The reappearance of police later in the evening indicated a concerted effort by local law enforcement to curtail the occurrence of the public consumption of alcoholic beverages throughout the village as an additional four galleries, including nearby Walk Tall Gallery
, were also reportedly included in the Saturday evening sweep.
The highly visible display of "Nine police cars and Vered being hauled away in cuffs was clearly police harassment," partner Lehr asserted in a phone interview Sunday morning. With the crowd of on-lookers chanting "Free Vered," Lehr took the opportunity to point out that "the show is sexy, and the gallery was filled with fashionistas."
East Hampton Village Police have provided no official comment regarding the shutdown and as of Sunday morning at 10 a.m. inquiries were referred to Layla Bennett of the Records Department, whom the dispatcher indicated was unable to comment as she was out due to it being "a holiday weekend and no one is around." A full police report is expected Tuesday.
Police confiscated all the alcohol beverages on premises during the shutdown.
Lehr contends that the police came initially due to the consumption of alcohol in a public space as an overflow of attendees casually mingled outside of the gallery in the nearby courtyard, however, she added, "When asked to move inside, we all did." Lehr did indicate that the police came a few times throughout the evening showing concern over the size of the crowd and the consumption of alcohol by persons standing outside the gallery as it is a commercial venue.
Vered Gallery is known for its exhibition and representation of both modern and contemporary master works, as well as 19th and 20th century paintings, photographs and sculpture, and has "been in business for 32 years" according to Lehr, "without incident." Lehr expressed her dismay, stating "This should never have happened and the disruption to our business has been incalculable - This was an opening reception." Lehr emphatically stated, "The gallery is open today from 11 a.m to 6 p.m., and that Vered is fine and at the gym." The Klein exhibit will be on display through June 23.
A gathering of police cars descended on the scene during the shutdown.