Last week, William D. Cohan interviewed me on covering the world of wealth in New York at a 92Y Talk. Here’s the podcast.
Last week, William D. Cohan interviewed me on covering the world of wealth in New York at a 92Y Talk. Here’s the podcast.
The Rockefeller family’s enduring legacy, the subject of a feature story by Michael Kaplan in today’s New York Post, is also a prominent theme in 740 Park and Rogues’ Gallery, two of my books. News-hooked on the recent death of David, the last surviving son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the only one to live in 740 Park, the story addresses how great fortunes are dispersed and thus dissipated in large families, and asks if this wealthy family’s name still matters. I say it does, and others agree. In large part, that’s because, as Kaplan writes, “the family never … Continue reading
“One of our most provocative journalists, Michael Gross has cornered the market for insiders’ stories of the most bewitching and private worlds of the privileged, very rich, talented and beautiful,” says the 92nd Street Y, announcing my forthcoming appearance there on the night of June 12th, when I’ll engage in conversation with William D. Cohan, the former M&A investment banker for Lazard Frères and bestselling author of books about Wall Street. Speaking of insider stories, on Friday, Bloomberg “revealed” details of financier and Trump administration advisor Stephen Schwarzman‘s 70th birthday party in Palm Beach this weekend. But readers of AVENUE … Continue reading
Fashion is dead. Long live fashion. That’s not the news you’ll hear in this week’s relentless run-up to Vogue‘s annual promotional party at the Metropolitan Museum, but it’s the message of “Has Luxury Fashion Priced Itself Into Extinction?” my return-to-fashion-writing essay on The Daily Beast this morning. “The digital culture that’s killing fashion-as-we-know-it could, perversely, prove fashion’s salvation,” it argues. “Alongside the paid bloggers and pampered celebrities flogging $3,000 branded goods on Instagram are just plain folks taking selfies of themselves in outfits that reflect individual creativity, not the needs of vampire corporations sucking quarterly profits from purses and perfume … Continue reading
Truly sad news in the inbox last night: Bookhampton, the multi-door east end independent bookseller, will close shop after this holiday season–unless a white knight comes along to save it. There are no words. And after December, there will literally be none left out there. Anyone want to step up and save the day?
But seriously, with the start of Chanuka just nine days away, why not buy your beloved a book? For art lovers just back from Art Basel, there’s Rogues’ Gallery, which the New York Times Book Review called “A blockbuster exhibition of human achievement and flaws.” Prefer real estate? But is your recipient a condo or a cooperative person? For the former, there’s House of Outrageous Fortune, the story of Manhattan’s sui generis record-setting condo, Fifteen Central Park West. “The intersecting strands of money, politics, greed, taste, ambition shine brightly,” Manuela Holterhoff of Bloomberg News wrote of the book. And cooperators … Continue reading
The buyer of New York’s most expensive apartment, an $88 million penthouse at Fifteen Central Park West, the former Russian fertilizer oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, is now the world’s unluckiest divorcee, after a Swiss court ordered him to pay his ex-wife Elena Rybolovleva precisely half his fortune, down to the penny…a sum just over $4.5 billion. Rybolovlev’s whole story, and all the details of his costly divorce, can be found in House of Outrageous Fortune. An earlier subject, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is also in the news today, with the announcement of plans to make over its much-maligned wing containing … Continue reading
A few months back, the New York Times gave House of Outrageous Fortune its first great writeup and in the process inspired “The Heat is On,” theMay Unreal Estate column in Avenue magazine. It’s about neighborhoods, how they change, and why we gravitate to one or another. Even Inwood. Curiously, Thomas Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum, the subject of an earlier book of mine, Rogues’ Gallery, is on the cover of the issue, which was just delivered to all the best doorsteps in the borough of Manhattan.
This heartbreaking letter just arrived from the wonderful Bookhampton book stores: Dear Friends and Neighbors and BookLovers: The most wonderful part of owning BookHampton has been the discovery of new books and the camaraderie of fellow readers. The saddest part is the awareness that all things, even those we cherish most, have days that are numbered. The frozen Winter and this very chilly Spring caught BookHampton in a grip that has brought us to our knees. We’re fighting to have one more Summer, and not to be bowed by the writing on the wall that forced our colleagues to close … Continue reading
Noted without comment: The last few days have seen several of Gripepad’s obsessions flitting hither and yon in the news. Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour , who appears on the cover of Rogues’ Gallery, has been rewarded for her fundraising and cheerleading efforts on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute with the naming of its newly-renovated galleries in her honor. The board of directors of 995 Fifth Avenue, just across the street from that museum, has sued One57 developer, the cantilever and crane-crazy Extell (and a partner) for breach of contract and fraud “in the construction, … Continue reading
Forty-plus years after the Metropolitan Museum of Art instituted its Pay What You Want But You Must Pay Something admission policy, it has finally been formalized by the city of New York, which has amended the museum’s lease to allow it. And so, one of the museum board’s long-standing misstatements (the lease was already amended it long claimed, and then when it emerged that it hadn’t been, well, huff, puff, it didn’t need to be), has been miraculously wiped away. Rather like the way the magical museum has traditionally laundered reputations and ill-gotten gains through the alchemy of cultural philanthropy. … Continue reading
A longstanding mystery about the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s much-debated pay-what-you-wish-but-you-must-pay-something admission policy is solved at last in an understated story on the fracas on the front page of today’s New York Times The Arts section. First reported in the New York Post, the mystery hinges on whether New York City ever formally approved “recommended” admission charges at the Met and other cultural institutions that occupy city-owned land and buildings. In the story, Sarah Lyall reveals that although an agreement was reached in 1970 between museum director Thomas Hoving and Parks Commissioner August Heckscher, the Met’s lease was never amended … Continue reading
The Marquand on Madison Avenue is the subject of my latest Unreal Estate column in Avenue magazine. Built on the site of the long-since-demolished mansion of Henry Marquand, second president of the Metropolitan Museum, the current Marquand, erected before World War I, has been reimagined for a new generation of plutocrats.
The New York Times has just reported that Anthony Marshall, only child of the late Brooke Astor (pictured), has been paroled for medical reasons after serving six months of his sentence of one-to-three years for looting his mother’s fortune before her death. Gripepad has noted under-reported aspects of the Brooke Astor story, some of which was detailed in Rogues’ Gallery, my book on the money behind the Metropolitan Museum, and the complex mores of those who created and sustain it–and drove the effort to put Marshall behind bars. You can read some of that commentary here, here, here, and here. … Continue reading
Four years post-publication, Rogues’ Gallery endures and has just been reviewed in The Epoch Times. James Grundvig says the book is “a tour-de-force” full of “dead-on observations” that “brings [to] life an unseen dimension of New York City in the show and lore of high society.”
House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World’s Most Powerful Address is now available for pre-orders on Amazon by clicking here. Publication date is March 11, 2014. I’ll post a bn.com link as soon as it, too, becomes available.
Ada Louise Huxtable, the late, great architecture critic who died in January, was remembered yesterday at a memorial tribute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an institution she both praised and criticized. So on the way in, I visited the museum’s store to see if by some miracle, Rogues’ Gallery–my history of the museum’s founders, backers, and ruling elite, which was banned by the museum on publication in 2009–was finally available there. “We’re not allowed to carry it,” a clerk told me. Then the clerk grinned. “But I have a copy.”
Did someone say, how was your weekend? Well, busy. First we were unwillingly evacuated from our home. So I didn’t have time to post about NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon listing his apartment at 15 Central Park West, subject of my just-completed next book, or about France selling the home of its UN ambassador at 740 Park, subject of an earlier real estate opus. Then, Le Monde published a story on the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute and its ball quoting my Rogues’ Gallery, and Gwyneth Paltrow, one of the select invited guests, opined that, “It sucked.” And finally, my exile on … Continue reading
In a followup to its revelation yesterday that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has charged admission for forty-plus years in violation of its lease, reporters Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein offer up Art of the $teal , a Sunday feature stuffed with more examples of the museum administration’s contempt for the public that owns its buildings, the land they sit on, and the art within. Gripepad supports the Met’s desire to collect admission, but finds its devotion to the public, to its own history and to the truth, in the words of its chief dissembler, a matter of interpretation.
The New York Post filed a Freedom of Information Act request to gain access to the long-hidden agreement that–Metropolitan Museum of Art officials have always alleged, most recently in statement by museum director Thomas Campbell–gave them the right to charge admission. But reporter Julia Marsh‘s story today reveals that no such agreement exists. The link above does not include the response to the Post’s charges from Museum spokesman Harold Holzer that appears in the iPad version of the paper today. He calls the report “a matter of interpertation.” This from the same flack who called Rogues’ Gallery “highly misleading,” yet … Continue reading
Leonard Lauder‘s magnificent gift of a collection of Cubist masterpieces to the Metropolitan Museum of Art got front page treatment in the Times this morning. But the most interesting tid-bit was contained in the New York Post’s piece on the donation (which includes the Picasso at right). It quotes Lauder saying “This is a gift to the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great art institutions.” That recognition–that the museum’s art is held in trust for the people of New York–is far too often forgotten or ignored … Continue reading
Institutions are run by individuals who sometimes fail to live up to what’s best about them. In an AP story making the rounds today about the latest class-action lawsuit accusing the leaders of the august Metropolitan Museum of Art of cowing and gouging visitors and violating the terms of its lease, MMA spokesman Harold Holzer (referred to as the Met’s Minister of Propaganda by one rogue curator) shows its administration’s thin skin when faced with insufficient reverence, calling the suit an “insupportable nuisance.” History repeats itself. Holzer criticized Rogues’ Gallery, too, calling it “highly misleading,” but failed to point out … Continue reading
Ed Koch, New York’s most colorful modern mayor, died this morning. My favorite memory of him is our interview for Rogues’ Gallery, the story of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Koch had long disdained the place as a clubhouse for its wealthy and arrogant patrons and greatly enjoyed winning several battles against the museum’s board. Aside from the wealthy and the socially prominent, The Met had a history of putting powerful people on its board, sometimes to seduce and neuter them (newspaper publishers, for instance), sometimes to use them. Henry Kissinger‘s diplomatic contacts made him a natural choice for a … Continue reading
Anna Wintour a diplomat? That’s the subject of Jane Ridley‘s feature in today’s New York Post, in which I’m quoted recalling my favorite tale of Wintour’s wrath–the night the Rogues’ Gallery cover girl gave the deep freeze treatment to Giorgio Armani.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, subject of my book Rogues’ Gallery, has been sued for defrauding the public ever since the 1970s when it first introduced its Pay What You Wish But You Must Pay Something admission policy in contravention of its lease for its buildings and land, which are publicy-owned (as is its art, which is held in trust for the public). A press conference on the lawsuit is scheduled for this afternoon, but today’s New York Post already has the story and a response from the museum’s flack, who describes the suit as frivolous, ludicrous and outrageous, pointing … Continue reading
An exclusive story in today’s New York Post alleges that there is a secret deal between the Metropolitan Musem of Art and neighboring co-ops to “scale down big plans for the institution’s iconic plaza.” It apppears, however, that some of those neighbors are not going to lie down and acquiesce to any plan to turn that plaza into a food court. But those who forget–or don’t know–the past are, as the saying goes, condemned to repeat it. Such is the case with the museum neighbor who fumed, “This was a museum of the people. Now it’s the people versus this … Continue reading
In today’s WWD, Oscar de la Renta (formerly Oscar Renta), the fashion designer and husband of Metropolitan Museum of Art Vice Chairman Annette de la Renta (formerly Anne France Mannheimer, Annette Engelhard, and Annette Reed) sticks a pin into New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn. The question is, Huh? Oscar was apparently offended by a generally positive if cursory review of his latest “lively…generally cantankerous” runway show, in which she Horyn called him “far more a hot dog than an eminence gris” of Seventh Avenue (he is, IMHO, both). In response, de la Renta bought a full page ad … Continue reading
Monday night’s Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum garnered less press attention than in previous years, but from the armchair view of one of the uninvited, the celebrity petting zoo was still a spectacle worthy of Rome. My favorite snapshot was of Marc Jacobs in a lacy see-through Comme des Garcons dress, Colonial-style buckled shoes and a pair of Brooks Brothers boxers (pictured). It reminded me of the night in 1990 when the Met Ball’s current mastermind, Vogue editrix Anna Wintour, turned up at a Giorgio Armani party at MoMA in a bright yellow sequined scuba-style dress by Karl … Continue reading
According to the Associated Press, $100 million of Brooke Astor’s fortune will now go to organizations like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. But though his share of the estate has been halved, the AP says, son Anthony Marshall, who is appealing his conviction for, in part, engineering changes to her will when her mental capabilities had allegedly eroded, still gets $14.5 million. That may be an heircut, but it’s still a tidy sum. I wonder if he’ll leave anything to his son Philip, who engineered the public exposure of this private mess? Read the … Continue reading
A New York Times reporter has just broken the news of an (as yet undisclosed) settlement in the Brooke Astor estate battle in White Plains. His source? Philip Marshall (pictured), who put the family dispute in the public sphere when he accused his father of mistreating his grandmother, sent a text to the man from the Times. UPDATE: I;m told that News 12 in Westchester actually had it first. I’ll add details of the settlement once I have them.
Regular Gripepad readers will recall that two years ago, in an afterword to the paperback of Rogues’ Gallery, my history-cum-expose of the board and benefactors of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, I speculated on how the vice chairman of that board got her hands on one of the embargoed advance copies of the book. Which led to a pre-emptive threat (that thankfully proved empty) to sue my publisher and me for “gratuitous and false character assassination.” George Gurley of The New York Observer subsequently confirmed my suspicion that the embargo-breaker was Robert Silvers, the esteemed co-founder and editor of … Continue reading
What’s the latest cause celebre at 1000 Fifth Avenue, I ask in my latest Crain’s New York Business Column. Is it (right-wing) donor David Koch? Or the Metropolitan Museum’s imperial mind-set?
Today’s announcement of a new head of contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in its in-house newsletter, er, sorry, the Arts section of the New York Times, was heavy on hand-fed detail but sorely lacking in context. The Met’s relationship to contemporary art has been contentious almost from the day the museum opened, and is an unlikely foundation for its emergence as “a Major Player,” as the C1 headline has it, yet art-world reporter Carol Vogel (who has gone far since her days as an assistant to caricature-quality fashion editor Carrie Donovan at the Times’ magazine) chose to … Continue reading
Today’s Galleycat sent me racing to Fyrefly’s new Book Blogs Search Engine which revealed a review of Rogues’ Gallery I’d never seen before by the blogger Largehearted Boy. Read it here. But if clicking is too much for you, here are the two lines that made me ROLF: “Haven’t heard about this book despite a number of great reviews? We’re sure that has nothing to do with the people featured in the book being friends with people who run newspapers and magazines.”
Last week, the New York press predictably annnounced the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s abrupt 25% bump of its “suggested” admission price to $25 (that’s the old price displayed above) without much historical context or critical commentary. Only Louise Blouin‘s feisty artinfo.com hinted that to some, this might spell heartbreak or outrage. This morning, Judith H. Dobrzynski‘s RealClearArts took a stab at the plan, too, reviewing some of the recent history of the entry tariff and wondering why the museum doesn’t institute variable pricing. “Airlines, theater, and many other places have succeeded in using variable pricing, with few or no complaints … Continue reading
Judith Dobrzynski‘s Real Clear Arts blog breaks the news that chairman of the department of European Art and Sculpture Ian Wardropper, who lost the top spot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to his own underling, Tom Campbell, is decamping for the Frick Collection, where he, too, will be a museum director. Congratulations!
Yesterday’s announcement that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is likely to take over the Marcel Breuer-designed Brutalist building that now houses the Whitney Museum of American Art was expected. What it left out, however, was unexpected. The Soviet-style desire of the Met’s administration (and their friends and toadies in the New York cultural elite) to suppress its own fascinating and often impure history is well known, but that history is not entirely forgotten, even if you couldn’t read it yesterday. The decades-long enmity between the two museums and between the Met and contemporary art and artists is told at great … Continue reading
Anna Wintour (that’s not her above) got her reward for tireless service to Si New — , oops, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday when she was promoted from powerless non-voting honorary trustee of the museum to only slightly less powerless “elective” trustee. On the same day, James Houghton, the museum’s aging chairman, stepped down and was replaced by real estate owner and operator Daniel Brodsky, who is slightly younger. Women’s Wear Daily got the scoop on Wintour’s ascension to the socio-cultural Pantheon that is the museum’s board, but not Brodsky’s promotion. The New York Times … Continue reading
This gripepad and pen are familiar with the ins and outs of telling the emperor he’s starkers. But at a certain point, it can get repetitive, so I’ve mostly spared the Metropolitan Museum in recent months. I almost felt bad when Obama-Gets-Osama kept Anna Wintour‘s fashion promo party from dominating the news cycle this week. But the blog Scallywag & Vagabond has written about the Party of Last Monday in a very entertaining way. Suffice to say the post is called “Jerking off with the Metropolitan Museum Gala Propaganda Committee.” NSFW, kids! The image of Yoko and Karl is from … Continue reading
Caravaggio at K-Mart prices? Value-priced Velazquez? Metropolitan Museum of Art memberships have just gone on sale… and you can get fifteen months for the price of twelve. Boasts the Met: “You’ll enjoy outstanding benefits including unlimited free admission,” which is guaranteed to all by the museum’s lease, but never mind, “Members-only events, discounts in The Met Store, access to the exclusive Members Dining Room overlooking Central Park, and more.” You still can’t get Rogues’ Gallery there, but again, never mind. Click here for details.
Those who criticize should also praise when it’s deserved. Good things come to those who wait. And what follows also proves the unstated contention in Rogues’ Gallery that great institutions aren’t the same as the sometimes-flawed transients who run them. Twenty-eight months ago, after I finished writing that book, I gave a copy of a privately-printed memoir, Remembrances by the late Arthur Amory Houghton, as a gift to the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as they did not have a copy of the book by the Museum’s former chairman, and the Houghton family member who … Continue reading
In his media column today, “At Media Companies, A Nation of Serfs,” David Carr comes down on the side of those who think professional writers shouldn’t write for free for the Huffington Post and ought to consider same before posting on Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps because he has a ready-made megaphone, that local community newspaper he writes for, Carr doesn’t get the benefits HuffPo and Facebook offer those of us who lack his significant advantage. Two years ago, when Rogues’ Gallery was published — and effectively ignored by the mainstream media after a stealth suppression campaign by truth-averse Metropolitan Museum … Continue reading
Like the great Michael Corleone says, “Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in.” I’ll be speaking about Rogues’ Gallery at the New Canaan Public Library at 151 Main Street in New Canaan CT on Thursday February 10th at 7:30 PM as part of its Authors On Stage series, and then at 8 PM on Friday February 11th in the Grand Salon of The National Arts Club at 15 Gramercy Park South in Manhattan, I’ll be reading — quite possibly the first brief preview from my upcoming book Unreal Estate — at The Literary Life Reunion, … Continue reading
Today’s New York Observer bets that last week’s $10 million contribution towards the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute by Jon and Lizzie Tisch will win the latter a seat on the museum’s prestigious ruling board of trustees. “The board would be a good place for Lizzie,” Gripebox favorite David Patrick Columbia tells the pink paper. “And the days of Condé Nast and Anna Wintour dominating the Costume Institute are numbered on simply actuarial terms.” Writer Rachel Corbett also echoes the argument in Rogues’ Gallery that the institute has balanced the commercial and the timeless since it came to 1000 Fifth Avenue … Continue reading
Jonathan M. Tisch, the chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, and his wife Lizzie (above) today announced a $10 million gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to build the latest new, improved gallery for its Costume Institute, the pet charity of New York’s garment business since the 1940s. Unmentioned in the press release… er… report in this morning’s paper is the subtext of a $10 million gift to the museum: It typically buys a seat on the board, as it did not long back when the controversial libertarian mogul David Koch landed a seat with a same-sized donation. So … Continue reading
Emily Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been named to fill an unexpired one-year term on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Rafferty, who led the museum’s in-house effort to keep its employees and friends from speaking about it to me for Rogues’ Gallery, sounds like a perfect fit for the semi-secretive financial institution. Congratulations!
This just-published review of Rogues’ Gallery on ipadbookspdf.com just might make me believe in Santa Claus: Â ”This is an intriguing book to appear at what may be a major turning point in the Met’s history… chronicles the interminable tugs of war between the trustees, donors and curators and the city authorities over the institution’s core mission… a wonderful eye for the telling anecdote and the hilarious detail… another truly great yarn in his series of books devoted to the doings (and misdeeds) of Manhattan’s self-anointed elite.”
Today’s New York Observer reports on the proposed new plaza in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, paid for in large part by David Koch, a newish Met trustee and resident of 740 Park, and the opposition already being mounted by the museum’s neighbors across Fifth Avenue. Â Koch used to be one of them until he moved from the former Jackie Kennedy Onassis apartment at 1040 Fifth to his current apartment at 740. The fascinating story of that move, and the even more intriguing one of one hundred years of the museum board’s imperial ambitions, building history and fraught … Continue reading
Curbed is on a roll today, unveiling some floor plan porn for the $24 million maisonette at McKim Mead & White’s 998 Fifth. Â The venerable building made a cameo in Rogues’ Gallery because, in a previously unreported attempt at expansion, theÂ trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art briefly considered buying Â itÂ for its administrative and researchÂ offices, some specialized collections and the museum’s Â library. Its builder-owner, James T. Lee (grandfather of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and developer of 740 Park), was in deep financial trouble and offered 998 to the Met at the bargain price of $900,000. The museum board’s executive committee, always … Continue reading
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