Archive for April, 2009

Can one be at once dignified and scandalously wicked?

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Jesse Kornbluth‘s Headbutler.com says Rogues Gallery “begins gently, presenting a dignified, to-my-eye authoritative history of the museum… Once you get to Thomas Hoving, the showman who brought the Met into the Modern Age, the book becomes fascinating. Scandalously so, for we’re no longer dealing with New York’s sedate “Old Money” crowd… Michael Gross wields a wicked pen; this is Dominick Dunne territory.”

The sun’s not yellow, it’s poulet

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Fashion Week Daily has all the hot skinny here and here on who is sitting with who at the Metropolitan Museum’s downsized (“tables sales are significantly down this year,” FWD says) Party of the Year next week. “Keeping with this year’s focus on economic sensitivity,” they conclude, “all guests (including well-documented red meat aficionado Anna Wintour, [above with your faithul blogespondent]) are expected to dine on a main course consisting of poulet. That’s chicken, darlings.”

“… curatorial excellence, social climbing, and skulduggery… “

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The latest pre-publication review of Rogues’ Gallery is in from Booklist’s May 15th issue. “A big tell-all book about a big museum,” it says. “Art has always inspired obsession and crime, and the movers and shakers at the helm of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art couldn’t have amassed its extraordinary collections without the shenanigans of art-world rogues, be they outright thieves, clandestine swindlers, or extreme egomaniacs. Gross relishes every nefarious or audacious episode as he marches through the museum’s fascinating history of curatorial excellence, social climbing, and skulduggery. It’s a tale of elitists versus populists, of spectacular gifts and … Continue reading

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

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I scan the real estate sections and the realty blogs daily, hoping for news of more sales, births, deaths, scandals or moments of joy at 740 Park, but here in the Great Recession there are none. So with the publications date of Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Made the Metropolitan Museum fast approaching (eight more days! eight more days!), I am taking this opportunity to retire the 740 Park blog, at least until something, anything!, happens there. I’m sure the last of the widows, prospective parents and pillars of finance there … Continue reading

Astorgate: The Back Story

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Opening arguments in the criminal trial over longtime Metropolitan Museum trustee and benefactor Brooke Astor’s estate begin tomorrow. Today’s New York Times covers an earlier Astor estate case, in which “John Jacob Astor VI accused Brooke Russell Astor of using ‘improper conduct and undue influence’ to persuade her husband, Vincent Astor, who had died from a heart attack at 67, to change his will in her favor. One curious yet riveting fact is highlighted in the story. Mrs. Astor hired a publicist to keep the world informed of developments in that case, even though, as she admitted at the time, … Continue reading

In Style-dot-com

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Style.com says that the Rogues Gallery “has all of New York talking.”

Wowowow

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The Queen of Gossip, Liz Smith, had this to say yesterday on wowowow.com about Rogues’ Gallery: “This book, like all of Michael’s works, will make a lot of rich and prominent people very unhappy.” Aw, c’mon, Liz. The truth will set you free! And some of them are not as rich (or as admired) as they used be. (Hey, I’m a poet!)

In Kaplan We Trust

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The announcement that Peter Kaplan, its long-time editor, will leave the New York Observer next month, came as a shock even in a shaken media universe that seems inured to them. The coverage of his departure is deservedly wall-to-wall. It wasn’t long ago that I presided over a conversation about print journalism with Kaplan and the great newsman-turned-author Gay Talese in Bergdorf Goodman Magazine. Today seems a fitting moment to look back at that chat. (Drawing by Drew Friedman snatched from nytimes.com)

The Cat in the Hat

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Jonathan van Meter profiles the fashion photographer Steven Meisel in the new issue of Vogue. I did the same thing, only different, back in 1992, when Meisel had just finished shooting Madonna‘s book, Sex. Van Meter got great stuff from Meisel about his early years. I got some pretty great stuff from others, since Madonna’s magician, as my editors called him, refused to cooperate with our profile. I often tell journalism students that they have to decide if they are going to depend on access or enterprise. The best magazine profiles combine the two, but those are more rare than … Continue reading

Good News

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“Michael Gross is about to come out with his Rogue’s Gallery,” write Rush & Molloy in today’s Daily News, “his tale of how the wealthy vie for power at the Metropolitan Museum of Art… It’s a must-read.”

Manifest Destiny

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David Patrick Columbia‘s New York Social Diary says Rogues’ Gallery is “destined to be a must-read amongst the cognescenti, not to mention the art world.” Fasten your seatbelts. Nineteen days to go.

Azz Slaps Oscar

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Today’s WWD features Azzedine Alaïa‘s response to Oscar de la Renta‘s recent criticism of Michelle Obama‘s wardrobe choices. “It’s not up to him to give her lessons; Michelle Obama is of her time; Oscar de la Renta is no longer,” says Alaïa. UPDATE: WWD adds Oscar’s apology: I may have chosen my words badly, and I regret it… I’m jealous if I’m not dressing every single woman,” he said. “Not jealous — really jealous.”

Tom Tom Club

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This unsolicited endorsement of Rogues’ Gallery just in: “I do not think you could have done better had the Met given you everything you asked for including a dash of honesty,” Tom Hoving says. “It is riveting and accurate. You handled me with ‘tough love’ and I understand. For a lot of things I did or engineered were failures. You were fair but rough. I appreciate that. Funny, but had I read the parts on [John D.] Rockefeller [Jr.] and [longtime New York Commissioner of Parks Robert] Moses before [Metropolitan Museum chairman Arthur] Houghton asked me to take the job, … Continue reading

Duel of the Directors

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Today’s Page Six in the New York Post spotlights the feud between the penultimate director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philippe de Montebello, and his predecessor, Tom Hoving, in a sneak peek at Rogues’ Gallery, to be published May 5th. Order it now online.

Provoque!

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The French art site artclair.com says Rogues’ Gallery will “provoque un scandale”. Ah, bon!

Oscar Whiner

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Oscar de la Renta, the grand old man of American fashion, Park Avenue aristocrat and husband of Metropolitan Museum of Art vice-chairman Annette de la Renta, offered up some astonishing advice to First Lady Michelle Obama in a page one story in Friday’s Women’s Wear Daily, criticizing her choice of clothes for a visit to Queen Elizabeth (“You don’t go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater,” he sneered) and, more generally, her taste for fringe and young designers and big, accessibly-priced brands like J. Crew. “American fashion right now is struggling,” he told writer Bridget Foley. “I think I understand … Continue reading

All Is Vanity

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“Michael Gross hangs the eccentric and dazzlingly rich characters behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art in his Rogues Gallery.” — Vanity Fair May 2009