Bernard K Passman Galleries

Bernard K Passman Galleries

Black Coral Sculptures, Jewelry, and Gifts. Bernard K Passman Galleries Locations: Crown Bay Marina, Downtown, and Havensight Mall (340) 777-4580.

The Bernard K. Passman Story

Bernard K. Passman Black Coral Art

Bernard K. Passman was the world’s most well known and ornate sculptor of black coral. Having discovered this rare and unique gem in 1974 at the age of 58, Passman brought black coral into the public eye through his magnificent sculptures, intricate carvings and elegant jewelry designs.

Passman’s talent for design and sculpture came to fruition, surprisingly, when he retired from a career as the CEO and President of a land developing company. In 1967 he opened his first art gallery in Galt Mile, Florida and found immediate success with his sculptures featuring exotic woods, stone, metal and clay. In 1974, Passman moved to Grand Cayman so he could further explore his passion for sculpting. He discovered black coral when a child brought him a bag of what he termed “dirty old twigs” and asked him to carve them. These “twigs” were in fact broken pieces of black coral. Passman became enchanted with the stone’s hidden beauty, which he translated into a new medium of sculpture and design.

Within a five year period, Passman quickly achieved success and worldwide acclaim with his magnificent designs. He was commissioned to create pieces for dignitaries, world leaders and celebrities. Famous pieces include “The Republican Presidential Tree”, which paid homage to past presidents going back to Thomas Jefferson by featuring their carved profiles on wooden leaves of a large tree sculpture that stood 21 feet tall. In 1972, Passman was recruited to add a second branch featuring the Democratic presidents, in time for the Democratic National Convention. When the statue was brought to Washington D.C. he added the 1972 president elect, Richard Nixon.

“Nixon didn’t want the side view that I did with all the others, so I placed him more to the right and put him way up top. I asked him to come pose for me and at one point I said, ‘I hope this time you don’t mind being up in a tree.’ The next thing I knew, he really was up in a tree.” This banter resulted in a handwritten thank you note from the President to Passman for his candor and sentiment.

In 1981, Passman gained further notoriety when he was summoned by the Government of Grand Cayman to create the wedding gift from the British crown colony to Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, for which he designed a 97 piece black coral and sterling silver tableware set. Additional commissions include a coral sculpture given to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip and a black coral crucifix that was presented to Pope John Paul II in 1998.

Passman’s sculptures range from grandiose and whimsical to nature inspired wildlife. His vast admiration for Charlie Chaplin was the catalyst in his creating four sculptures of Chaplin, each reflecting a different period in the late actor’s prolific life. His first Chaplin sculpture, which was carved from one piece of black coral, poignantly remains unfinished as Passman ceased working on it at the moment he learned of Chaplin’s death. All four sculptures are not for sale and are on display at the Passman Museum in his Rodeo Drive gallery.

Passman passed away at the age of 91 on February 10, 2007. He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.

(340) 777-4580
Website: www.


  • Bernard K Passman
  • Bernard K Passman, early years
  • Dolphins
  • Turtle and baby
  • Scottie
  • Turtles
  • Clownfish
  • Bernard K Passman Galleries


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