A day after news of his arrest for patronizing a prostitute became public, a contrite Evan Lurie begged forgiveness from his family and friends.
“I’m sorry for the embarrassment I caused to my family and the people who trusted me,” the admittedly distraught and embarrassed Lurie said in a phone interview with Current. “I’ve got to look to God for guidance and do what I can to rebuild trust with my family and friends. … The part that hurts is what this situation has done and that is that it has humiliated and embarrassed my wife (Jennifer) and her family, who are such wonderful people. My wife is the most wonderful person I’ve ever known in my life. … I just feel terrible and hope that we can heal. I hope people can see in their hearts to give my family and I time to heal. I need God now more than ever. I want to take the time to work on myself and continue to strive to build something wonderful here in Carmel. I hope people can see past this.”
As Lurie, 47, urged the public to give him and his family space for healing, Carmel moved to distance itself somewhat from its former arts consultant. City officials said a new $60,000 a year contract for Lurie would not be approved. His previous contract was terminated last spring, according to city spokeswoman Nancy Heck.
But some business relationships will remain intact. Although the Carmel Redevelopment Commission’s office lease on the second floor of the fashionable Evan Lurie Gallery on Main Street ends in September, Carmel is negotiating for a new city office to take its place.
Arrested on Feb. 22 in Indianapolis, Lurie is charged with patronizing a prostitute and possession of paraphernalia, both misdemeanors. Police say Lurie called an undercover police officer that was posing as a hooker. He’d found the number and another one in an online advertisement, both of which had been used by prostitute. Lurie purportedly asked the officer how much it would cost for a half-hour session, to which she replied $100. He agreed to the price, instructing her to wear the lingerie and heels worn in the ad to their session.
About two hours later, Lurie pulled into the Southport Crossings Hampton Inn, and went to the room where the officer was waiting. After the two negotiated what she would do for the $100, other undercover operatives entered the room, arresting Lurie.
Both Mayor Jim Brainard and City Council President Rick Sharp expressed sympathy for Lurie and his family. It long has been expressed that Lurie had done a great deal of work with respect to growth of the arts and the Arts & Design District, up to and including promoting the district to art show attendees and vendors across the nation and internationally.
Lurie was the first major gallery owner brought in by Brainard at the Arts & Design District’s inception a decade ago. He has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars through his association with the city during the past decade,nearly $220,000 from 2004-2010. Lurie was paid from Brainard’s consultant budget during those years, but for the past two, he was being paid by the CRC. It was unknown at the time this story was published how much he made during those two years.
Lurie’s financial ties to the city run even deeper; his gallery is the result of a multi-million dollar public-private partnership with the city. Although Lurie invested $1.5 million in the gallery, the CRC co-signed on a construction loan for approximately $3 million which was later paid off. It continues to pay Lurie approximately $84,000 a year in rent.
But that could change. The CRC’s lease expires in September, and the city currently is negotiating a new agreement, according to CRC Executive Director Les Olds. But the CRC likely won’t be the tenant. According to Olds and Sharp, Carmel Utilities is looking at leasing the space, with the CRC moving to smaller offices elsewhere in the city. It’s not known what the utility company’s rent will be.
“You can find cheaper rent,” Olds said. “But you have to consider the quality of the building, the quality of the space.”
Lurie owes the city $59,000 for work done on the building, and that will be addressed in the new lease, Olds said.
City Councilor Luci Snyder said it was her idea for the CRC and utility company to switch places. With several major vacancies in the Arts & Design District, Snyder said, it makes sense for the city to keep the Lurie gallery financially afloat.
Arguably the face of the Arts & Design District, Lurie has a colorful history. Before becoming a gallery owner, he was a Hollywood actor, writer, director and stuntman, appearing in films such as “Cyborg 3: The Recycler,” “Expect to Die” and “American Kickboxer 2.” His wife, Jennifer Lurie, also was an actor, appearing on an episode of “Seinfeld.” His gallery’s website states Lurie “brings his passion and professional experience from film directing and production into the fine arts business. The result is a fresh look at contemporary art and the founding of a series of galleries from Los Angeles to Miami, celebrated with the most recent opening of his signature space, Evan Lurie Gallery, in Carmel.”