Archive for December, 2009

A Special Providence

Posted by in |

Sunday’s Providence Journal will name Rogues’ Gallery one of the “best reads” of 2009.

Patience and Fortitude

Posted by in |

Over 150 people, only one a friend, came to the mid-Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library the other night to hear the story of Rogues’ Gallery — so many that doors had to be opened to a second conference room to fit them all in. Readers of this blog will understand why it was a deeply satisfying way to end the seven roller-coaster months since the book was published and the four years since I began researching it. Walking to the library, I passed its main building (read Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York on the subject of the research … Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Annette de la Renta!

Posted by in |

Seventy years ago today, Anne France Mannheimer later Anne Engelhard, then Annette Reed and today better known as Metropolitan Museum of Art Vice Chairman Annette de la Renta, was born in the south of France. Joyeux anniversaire et Joyeux Noël from Rogues’ Gallery, Mrs. de la! (photo of Annette, her first husband Samuel Pryor Reed and their daughter Beatrice Reed is from thepeakofchic blog. Though uncredited there, it is by Horst. P. Horst.)

“Riveting,” says the New York Press

Posted by in |

In “Who’s Been Naughty and Nice in 2009,” the staff of The New York Press calls Rogues’ Gallery “riveting” on the subject of the “unusual decisions” and “dubious intentions” of generations of museum directors. In related news, Florida’s Naples News says that the museum’s just-retired director Philippe do Montebello will be speaking there in February on the subject of “The Hidden Met.” Sounds like a don’t miss… exhibition.

Trial by Tabloid

Posted by in |

Yesterday’s sentencing of former Metropolitan Museum trustee Anthony Marshall to one to three years in prison (which I am told will likely mean eight months with time off for good behavior) for plundering his mother Brooke Astor’s estate is likely still not the end of the saga; there will be an appeal and Marshall may not go to jail until it’s been decided. But today’s tabloids had their predictable fun and the New York Times belatedly ran a story allowing that there was another side to the whole saga — the way Astor treated her son, a subject few have … Continue reading

Mourning Becomes Montebello

Posted by in |

Phillipe de Montebello, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has outdone himself in this Sunday Arts featurette from Public Television’s Channel Thirteen website. Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate defines hypocrisy as the act of playing a part on a stage, feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not, and as this column has predicted he would, Montebello hits all three out of the park with this broadcast tribute to the late Tom Hoving, his predecessor, sponsor and mentor at the Metropolitan. More on this subject will be included in a new update chapter … Continue reading

Campbell in the Soup III

Posted by in |

Judith Dobrzynski’s Real Clear Arts, the new (and IMHO journalistically best) arts journal blog, comments on newish Metropolitan Museum of Art director Thomas Campbell’s appearance last week at what sounds like a pretty bland Alliance for the Arts forum. “Mostly, Campbell repeated things he has said before: the Met will have fewer exhibitions, more drawn from the permanent collection, more ‘dossier’ shows like that built around ‘The Milkmaid,’ a redesigned website, better signage and interpretive materials to ‘enliven, inform and invigorate’ the ‘visitor experience,’ and so on,” she reports. Campbell’s rookie year runs out in ten days with nary a … Continue reading

Beasty Fest

Posted by in |

The Daily Beast has just named Rogues Gallery one of the best art books of the year. Writer Rachel Wolff calls it “a compelling tale of the money, greed, egotism, and less than kosher acquisitions that have made the Met the megainstitution that it is today. It’s high culture meets lowlife behavior. And Gross has certainly dug up the goods — from Met-sanctioned tomb raiding in Cyprus to the classless antics of power-hungry trustees.” What a lovely way to end the week (for me, if not those trustees).

Chicago Rules

Posted by in |

Chicagoan Claire Zulkey’s Zulkey.com (“kind of a humor site, kind of a blog, kind of a repository for my writings, kind of an after-dinner mint for the brain”) has just added a chat with me about Rogues’ Gallery and more to her impressive collection of author interviews. I must have been in quite a mood when I did it; it’s a take-no-prisoners Chicago-rules kind of thing.

Museum on Museum II

Posted by in |

Further proof that you can’t keep a good book down (and that some museums have both guts and good taste). A new history book club at The Fairfield Museum and History Center at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield, CT. will be reading and discussing Rogues’ Gallery in its third session on March 24, 2010. For more information and to reserve a spot, call 203-259-1598.

Tom Terrific

Posted by in |

David Patrick Columbia remembers Tom Hoving today on New York Social Diary as “an outspoken showman connoisseur [who] had the common touch for those things which brought out the king in all of us.” Having read much of the coverage of Hoving’s life in recent days, it seems that he was best-appreciated by the non-art types he spent his life luring into a once-cloistered world he knew as well as any (he was a Princeton PhD, after all) by demanding it be — and proving it could be — accessible to all. UPDATE: Columbia has run another great item on … Continue reading

I, A Contest. I, A Fashion Spread.

Posted by in |

Curbed, the essential New York real estate blog, has just launched a holiday contest with signed copies of 740 Park and Rogues’ Gallery as the prize. You’ve got to be in it to win it. And 20/20, the eyeglass fashion magazine, has just published an online slide show that includes me in some fancy frames and touts Rogues’ Gallery for its “spectacular investigative reporting and a little bit of tittle-tattle,” according to editor James Spina. “Gross always gets to the heart of the story.”

Tom Hoving, RIP

Posted by in |

Tom Hoving, the outsized, ebullient, always controversial leader of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who revolutionized museums around the world in the decade from 1966 to 1976, died this morning after a short bout with cancer first diagnosed late this spring. Hoving, who was also a scholar, curator, commissioner of parks in New York City, bestselling author, magazine editor, raconteur, and perennial thorn in the side of the museum mafia, described his condition with typical candor. “I’m a goner,” he told me in July. “But I have no regrets. I’ve had a terrific life.” In the days just before his … Continue reading

Rogues’ Library

Posted by in |

Talk about an amazing “turn” of events: I’ll be speaking about Rogues’ Gallery for the last time this year at the Midtown Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library at 455 Fifth Avenue on Tuesday December 22nd at 6:30 PM. Who says there’s no Santa Claus?

Not Dunne Yet

Posted by in |

The late Dominick Dunne’s touching last novel, the new roman a clef, Too Much Money, revisits characters from his earlier People Like Us, many of them familiar to followers of New York society in the last three decades, but the book is still full of surprises. Page Six has already revealed the biggest — Dunne’s admission (via his fictional stand-in, Gus Bailey) to being, as he puts it, a celibate gay man. But media-watchers may be more interested in the not-so-veiled portrait Dunne paints of his relations with Vanity Fair magazine (which excerpts the book in its new issue) and … Continue reading

“A definite must-read.”

Posted by in |

On my speaking tour of Southern California last month, I met more than a dozen museum directors, trustees and donors, some of whose names would not be out of place on the plaques lining the grand stairs of the Metropolitan Musuem, many of whom had kind words to say about Rogues’ Gallery — a pleasant change from the wrinkled-nose disdain of the Met’s hierarchy, which has been chronicled in this column. But private conversations should stay private, so much as I’ve savored it, I won’t repeat their praise. But now, the Director of the Crow Collection of Asian Art in … Continue reading