Rogues Gallery

Rogues’ Gallery

The Secret Story of the Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals that Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art

"A blockbuster exhibition of human achievement and flaws."New York Times Book Review

"Explosive."Vanity Fair

"Gross demonstrates he knows his stuff. It's a terrific tale... gossipy, color-rich, fact-packed... What Gross reveals is stuff that more people should know."USA Today

"Tantalizing... irresistable... one of the year's most entertaining books."The Daily Beast

"Yummy."New York Daily News

"Riveting and accurate. My God! The back-stabbing and Machiavellian conspiracies! I had no idea. I learned a lot."Tom Hoving

"Michael Gross has proven once again that he is a premier chronicler of the rich. Rogues' Gallery is an insightful, entertaining look at a great institution-with all its flaws and all its greatness."Gay Talese

"The author clearly relishes dishing the dirt, but he also offers a supremely detailed history of the museum...Gross's portrait of Met politics is sharp and well-constructed. A deft rendering of the down-and-dirty politics of the art world."Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2009

"Sprawling histor... Behind-the-scenes dirt and an intriguing look at the symbiosis of culture and cash."Publishers Weekly, March 30, 2009

Now in a new, updated paperback edition, Rogues’ Gallery is the first independent, unauthorized look at the epic saga of the nation’s greatest museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and an endlessly entertaining follow-up to Michael Gross’ bestselling social history 740 Park. Gross pulls back the shades of secrecy that have long shrouded the upper class’s cultural and philanthropic ambitions and maneuvers — and paints a revealing portrait of a previously hidden face of American wealth and power, a rich, satisfying, alternately hilarious and horrifying look at America’s upper class, and what is perhaps its greatest creation. Includes a new afterword by the author, updating the story and telling the startling story of the book itself.

$16.99 * ISBN: 978-07679-2489-4 * Media Contact: Dyana Messina at Random House (212) 572-2098 or dmessina (at) randomhouse (dot) com * If you’d like Michael Gross to speak to your group contact: Authors Unlimited (212) 481-8484

January 16th, 2014

Grazing the news for Gripepad obsessions

horse
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, marketing and sale of apartments at the luxury co-op building.” The Billionaire’s Belt along 57th Street appears to be squeezing out Rizzoli, the last bookstore in midtown Manhattan. 15CPW architect Robert A.M. Stern‘s design for 220 Central Park South, soon to sprout a few blocks away, has been revealed. And reams of copy have been written about new New York City mayor Bill de Blasio‘s declaration that the city’s carriage horses are heading to the glue factory. Most refer to my 2009 post here, “It’s Parkingtown, Jake,” and a 2011 followup column in Crain’s New York Business wondering about the true motives of the carriage horse opponents. And as surely as the sun rises and sets, some more very expensive apartments have come on the market at 740 Park Avenue and 15 Central Park West. The mind reels.

October 25th, 2013

Met Museum lease amended: Better late than never!


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. A long way of saying, congratulations (both to the museum and to the New York Post, which led the reporting of the story and likely inspired the lease change)! Candor is its own reward. Read Rogues’ Gallery to discover the many ways truth is mutable (and art is awesome) at 1000 Fifth Avenue.

October 8th, 2013

Met Museum money mystery: Solved!


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 to reflect their conversations. “The museum says no amendment was needed,” Lyall writes. Of course, as both Hoving and Heckscher are both dead, their feelings and intentions regarding formalizing their conversations will never be known. But Hoving’s version of the story, and a full account of the museum’s controversial admission policies, which went far beyond the fee charged today–and reflect the conflict of the 1% vs the 99% that still colors (and some say taints) the museum’s operations–are told in my book on the Met’s board and backers, Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum.

October 3rd, 2013

The new old condo


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.

August 22nd, 2013

Anthony Marshall wins parole


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. With Marshall, 89, suffering from Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure, perhaps he’ll now be spared further humiliation and opprobrium atop his disgrace, but somehow I doubt it. ADDENDA: A lawyer friend made this comment on my Facebook page: “Whatever one may think of Marshall, a civil recovery against him would have sufficed. It’s hard to conceive of a larceny case when the thief is acting under a general power of attorney specifically authorizing self-dealing, as Marshall was. It should not have been a criminal case. And by the way, it wasn’t the sainted Mrs. Astor’s money either; she inherited it.”

July 16th, 2013

Message in a cyber-bottle: Rogues’ Gallery reviewed.


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.”

July 5th, 2013

House of Outrageous Fortune: Now available for pre-orders


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.

June 5th, 2013

Rogues’ Gallery: Still censored after all these years

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.”

May 11th, 2013

How do you really feel, Gwyneth?


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 57th Street ended with a new boom and thankfully, no bang. Developer Extell even apologized, sort of, and grudgingly, for treating One57′s neighbors like, well, guests at the Costume Institute gala. So how was it? Well, it still sucked to get kicked out of my home again, even if only for a day. But tomorrow is another day, even if it’s still this weekend.

April 28th, 2013

Mo’ money, mo’ problems for Metropolitan Museum


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.