The White Elephant Hotel in Palm Beach offers guests museum-level artwork


MM Cloutier

The lobby, hallways, and 32 rooms and suites of the White Elephant are adorned with original artwork, so it’s no surprise that the Palm Beach Hotel’s art-loving general manager has taken to giving customers get an overview of it all.

Bernhard Duerrmeier began giving weekly tours of the hotel’s 120-piece art collection last month, which debuted a year ago on Sunset Avenue.

Saturday tours for hotel guests last 30 minutes.

“As the person who makes sure that every destination I visit, I visit a museum, I appreciate the quality of the original art on display (at the hotel) and the stories they tell,” said Duerrmeier , 42, to the Daily News on Wednesday.

The entrance to the White Elephant is flanked by a 7 foot tall white elephant sculpture by Frederick Prescott.

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The collection includes oil paintings, acrylic paintings, lithographs, prints, monogravures, drawings and sculptures.

There are works by Japanese-American painter Kenzo Okada, acclaimed for his abstract expressionist style, and Donald Baechler, who emerged from New York’s Lower Manhattan art scene in the 1980s.

In the lobby is a 54-inch round and colorful acrylic artwork, “Lady of the House,” depicting the face of a glamorous woman adorned with sunglasses, by Israeli artist Orit Fuchs.

A focal point of the White Elephant Hall is a 54 inch round acrylic painting

Six prints by Anglo-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare line a hallway on the second floor. On another floor is the painting “Bird Dock” by Robert Rauschenberg.

A series of paintings by Yinka Shonibare line a hallway on the second floor of the White Elephant.

The powder rooms feature black line drawings by an 11-year-old British artist known as the Doodle Boy, while the hotel entrance is flanked by a 7-foot-tall white elephant sculpture. top of Frederick Prescott.

“It’s gratifying to know that the first thing people see at the door is my elephant,” Santa Fe-based Prescott told the Daily News Thursday. “More and more upscale hotels have started to include original artwork and it’s something people remember and love. This sets a place apart.

The White Elephant’s art collection has graced the hotel since its debut in November 2020 in the imprint of the former Bradley Park Hotel, a city-designated landmark originally built in 1924.

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The collection, aimed at engaging customers with a memorable viewing experience, was curated and purchased piece by piece through a collaboration between New York-based art consultant Emily Santangelo and developer-owner of the New England Development hotel, Boston-based, who declined to disclose the collection’s full value.

Company President and CEO Stephen R. Karp and his wife Jill have long been known to appreciate art.

New England Development, with retail, mixed-use and hospitality assets, purchased the White Elephant’s Sunset Avenue property in April 2018 from an entity controlled by Gayla Sue Levin of Fort Lauderdale.

The Palm Beach Hotel is the little brother of the White Elephant in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Another New England Development hotel in Nantucket, The Wauwinet, also has an art collection. But while this collection revolves around Nantucket themes, the artwork at the Palm Beach Hotel has an international reach with an emphasis on modern and pop art.

Among Duerrmeier’s favorites is a series of Shonibare paintings, called “Unstructured Icons,” on the hotel’s second floor.

“I am a huge fan of his work, especially how he explores colonialism and post-colonialism in the context of globalization,” said Duerrmeier. “Born in London and raised in Nigeria, Yinka is not afraid to examine race and class and the relationship between Africa and Europe.”

Duerrmeier, whose career included a 15-year tenure at Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, said he had been an art lover since high school, when he was intrigued by the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. “Subsequently, I was introduced to more art, especially pop art and its portrayal of popular and mass culture.”

The hotelier frequents art museums, but over the past year most of his days have been devoted to white elephant art.

When he gives tours of the collection, there are times, he says, when “I feel like I’m visiting my own personal collection”.


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