Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Celebrity Photo Exhibit Crashed by the Police


Hamptons gallery owner cuffed for selling alcohol without liquor license



11:36 PM EDT, May 25, 2008

About 200 art aficionados were sipping Veuve Clicquot Champagne and chilled white wine at an East Hampton gallery this weekend when the police arrived.

It was a soiree like many others for Vered Gallery, which twice a month invites guests to drink, nibble cheese and view its latest show.

But this time, gallery owner Ruth Vered was led away in handcuffs.

East Hampton Village police declined to comment Sunday except to confirm in a written statement that the gallery owner, who is widely known as Vered, was charged with selling alcohol without a liquor license.

Vered's arraignment was set for June 25 at East Hampton Town Court, police said.

Reached at her gallery Sunday night, Vered said a night that ended with her being led to a squad car on a tony East Hampton street began tamely enough with a Saturday opening at 7 p.m. featuring the work of photographer Steven Klein.

Guests wore cocktail dresses, summer dresses, shirts and slacks. Vered wore black, as always: a Ralph Lauren blouse and jeans.

About 8 p.m., she said, a pair of East Hampton Village police officers arrived. They told her she could not serve alcohol.

"I told them, 'I served liquor before you were born,'" Vered recalled Sunday night. "I told them they were not invited and I asked them to leave."

She told them that if they wanted to talk to her, they would have to send the police chief.

According to Vered: Several police cars arrived shortly thereafter, and six officers entered the gallery; two more stood outside. Then they confiscated the alcohol and put her in handcuffs. The guests, dismayed, screamed "Let her go! Leave her alone!" Others followed Vered and officers to the street, where they snapped photos of the incident on their cell phone cameras.

"It was really a scene," Vered said. "It was amazing."

Vered said the Champagne and wine -- donated by the Bridgehampton winery Channing Daughters -- was free, as always. Vered said she's offered alcoholic beverages at her gallery for more than 30 years and has never been questioned by police.

She said she spent about two hours at the police station. "It's absolutely ridiculous," she said. "They're sabotaging the life of our small business. Everybody does parties and gives Champagne. It's East Hampton!"

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