May 24, 2017
by riki altman | February 1, 2010 | Lifestyle
Some may swear Neal and Becki Litman are Miamians-about-town, but they’re quick to deny the label. “People think that because of the amount of photos we have,” explains the prominent Miami attorney as we walk past images of the couple posing with stars such as Sylvester Stallone, Shaquille O’Neal and Hulk Hogan. “I am probably the most nonsocialite person there is. But because of the number of celebrities we represent, we have a lot of celebrity pictures.”
His eponymous firm is based in Coconut Grove and boasts a client roster that reads like an issue of Forbes. On it are dozens of stars, along with myriad pro athletes, judges and prominent business people whom he assisted with various real estate or licensing transactions since opening his practice in 1972. “I represent those people because my best skill is negotiating deals,” he says.
He has also worked with many noted artists, such as Kenny Scharf, on major licensing agreements over the years, but now he’s representing a new artist on the scene—his wife. “Her art just speaks to me,” Neal says.
Becki creates under the moniker Becki Boni (her maiden name), and only recently decided to share her talent with the world. On a whim she began to take sculpting classes at the Biltmore years ago and has now developed into an accomplished artist, working in mediums ranging from stone to clay. “I was upset God didn’t give me talent,” she says in a calm, Southern drawl. “I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.” But it didn’t take long for her to discover her true calling: Now fans embrace her birds made of marble and busts of clay. She says she even enjoys a nickname bestowed upon her by fellow artisans: Head Lady. Many of her pieces represent men’s heads, with unique features and gaping mouths. “People think they’re screaming, but they’re really singing,” she says.
“I always feel like whenever I make something, I was chosen by that piece,” she adds. “I just see it in my head. I’m constantly looking at body parts.”
Aside from indulging in Becki’s Southern cooking, the Litmans’ quiet existence consists of frequent visits to restaurants like Joe’s Stone Crab on the beach, Tropical Chinese (“Better dim sum than I have had in China,” Neal claims) in Miami and Tom Jenkins in Fort Lauderdale for barbecue.
When they met more than 25 years ago, Becki was running a health club in her home state, Mississippi. Three months later, Neal relocated her to Miami. Soon they were engaged, and they married a year after that, on October 15, 1984. At the time, the real estate market in Miami was skyrocketing, and Neal grew his firm to include four other attorneys.
Today the couple enjoys spending time at their waterfront home off the Venetian Causeway, surrounded by their longhaired feline, Sebastian, and Mabel, a nearly 12-year-old boxer. When they leave the house, it’s either to take one of Neal’s white collectible 911 Turbo Porsches out for a spin or to board their Intrepid, Closing Time, for some snorkeling around Miami’s reefs. Three times a year they also travel to Belize for private dive trips on a nearly uninhabited island belonging to one of the firm’s clients. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear this privacy-loving power couple would be willing to fly more than 800 miles to enjoy the company of fish rather than flashbulbs.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NAVID