Category: RoguesGallery

Dizzy Miss Lizzie

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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

In Tisch We Trust

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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

And for my next book… ?

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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!

Better Late… A Last-Minute Gift?

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This just-published review of Rogues’ Gallery on ipadbookspdf.com just might make me believe in Santa Claus:  “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.”

When Books Collide

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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.  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

998 News

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Curbed is on a roll today, unveiling some floor plan porn for the $24 million maisonette at McKim Mead & White’s 998 Fifth.  The venerable building made a cameo in Rogues’ Gallery because, in a previously unreported attempt at expansion, the trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art briefly considered buying  it for its administrative and research offices, some specialized collections and the museum’s  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

Is Networking Working?

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Please “like” my brand-new Facebook page. Click through here.

In Trustees We Trust

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Steven Rattner, the former Metropolitan Museum of Art trustee, New York Times reporter, BFF of Arthur Ochs “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr., investment banker, Democratic party moneybags, financial counselor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg (with him above) and briefly, Obama car demi-czar, has reportedly settled charges by the Security and Exchange Commission that he arranged kickbacks, paying off a political adviser to get investment funds from New York State’s pension fund. Rattner will pay a seven figure fine and be banned from the securities industry. The good news: A former journalist can afford to pay a seven-figure fine. An UPDATE from Daily Intel.

Abraham Lincoln on the American Plutocracy

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Just found this great comment by Abraham Lincoln on the plutocracy and thought it worth sharing: “It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes.” POSSIBLE CORRECTION: A friend notes that the quote may be fraudulent, even if the sentiment it expresses has merit.

Just when I thought I was out…

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… they drag me back in. On October 6th, at 6:30 PM, I’ll be speaking about Rogues’ Gallery at the Junior League of the City of New York, 130 East 80th Street. It’s open to members and their friends.

Reading List

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D Magazine in Dallas reports that Roger Horchow of the Horchow catalogs has very good taste in books.

Rogues’ Gallery a #1 Bestseller

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Just back from a long trip to faraway places and with internet access restored noticed that not only is Rogues’ Gallery the #4 bestselling paperback non-fiction book at Bookhampton this week, it is the #1 bestseller that is not about the Hamptons. So thanks again, discerning East End readers. “Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost.” — Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 24 February 1959

We are #4!

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Rogues’ Gallery is #4 on the Bookhampton non-fiction bestseller list this week. Thanks Bookhampton and all you East End readers!

It’s good to be the director

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Gripebox first revealed Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Campbell‘s $4 million Fifth Avenue apartment — and some of the peculiarities of his living arrangements — here back in March. That’s not it above, but the floorplan shows the same apartment one floor above Campbell’s. Today’s New York Times reveals that though Campbell receives free housing across the street from his museum office, he pays no income tax on a perk that’s got to be worth a tidy six-figure sum annually. As so often happens when it deals with the Met, the local community newspaper went easy on Campbell, covering his situation … Continue reading

Beach Reading: Rogues’ Gallery Rising

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Rogues’ Gallery has rocketed to #2 on the Book Soup paperback non-fiction bestseller list this week. Love the Soup (and I don’t mean Tom Campbell‘s) and thanks all you readers in Los Angeles!

What to do with the Whitney?

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The Art Newspaper asked a panel of experts what should be done with Marcel Breuer’s Whitney Museum (the architect and his creation are above) when the museum moves downtown. My tongue-in-cheek thought follows those of former Whitney director David Ross and former Breuer architect Terence Riley.

“You will never look at the Wrightsman Galleries in the same way again.”

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“Michael Gross examines the Met through the prism of [its] generous and often loathsome benefactors, from the robber barons to the present day Page Six personalities,” writes Nashville Realtor Elizabeth Colton Walls on her book review blog. Check it out here.

Rogues’ Gallery is coming to Westhampton Beach

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I try to get out and they keep dragging me back. For all you East Enders, I’ll be speaking and signing Rogues’ Gallery (and 740 Park) on Saturday July 17th at 6 PM at the new Books & Books store at 130 Main Street in Westhampton Beach, NY. That’s the Books & Books we know and love from Miami — so please come support their first northern venture.

Soupy Sales and more…

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Rogues’ Gallery has returned to the bestseller list at Book Soup, my favorite book store in Los Angeles (above). Also, this week, Crain’s New York Business references the book in its anniversary issue in a story on philanthropy as an economic engine by Miriam Kreinin Souccar, who describes the book as “a tell-all about power struggles behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And on that note, adieu

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In a recent email exchange, the chief flack for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, charged that I was “averse to reason” when it comes to the museum I honor and the fascinating people whose lives are illuminated in the pages of Rogues’ Gallery. That led me to wonder if in fact it isn’t the museum’s administration and trustees who are averse to the beauty of truth. But enough. It’s almost summer, time to buy a few good books and chill in the heat. Here’s what independent experts said about Rogues’ Gallery. My advice? Decide for yourself. “Explosive.” — Vanity Fair … Continue reading

En garde, Goliath!

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Today, Jason Boog, editor of Galleycat, the book biz blog, asked me how I felt when I learned that Robert Silvers, eminence gris of the New York Review of Books, did indeed (as I speculate in the new afterword to Rogues’ Gallery) give an embargoed review copy of the book to Annette de la Renta, who promptly threatened to sue. My answer is here.

Montebello conquers Carnegie Hill

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Curbed has the scoop on former Metropolitan Museum of Art director Guy-Philippe Lannes de Montebello‘s new $1.75 million condo (bedroom above) at 40 East 94th Street on Carnegie Hill. Anywhere he hangs his art is home. Audio tour anyone?

Words to live (and die) by

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A friend found this prescription for the American cultural philanthropist, penned in 1881 but still relevant 129 years later. It comes from a review by James Jackson Jarves, the first significant American art connoisseur, of a memoir by a Florentine merchant, Un Mercante Fiorentina a La Sua Famiglia nel Secolo XV by Giovanni di Pagolo Rucellai, whose family paid for the marble facade by Alberti of Santa Maria Novella (above). “If we are to build up on American soil cities like Florence, world-renowned for art and science even more than for commerce and luxury, we must breed merchant princes cultured … Continue reading

“All the juice,” says Madame Arcati

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The UK’s maverick media blogger Madame Arcati just noted the arrival of the Rogues’ Gallery paperback. A certain Metropolitan Museum trustee, Arcati writes, “should be sending huge cheques to Michael for making her sound a lot more interesting than the gossip columns do, the silly bint.” That would be the same trustee George Gurley dubbed an “awe-inspiring badass” (see below). There’s more from the antic Arcati here.

Which Met Museum trustee is “an awe-inspiring badass”?

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The New York Observer’s George Gurley profiles me and proves he’s quite a rogue himself in tomorrow’s paper.

With love from Met to you…

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The Metropolitan Museum has announced a continuation of its Met Holiday Mondays program, opening portions of the museum to the public on the day of the week it is usually closed to all but invited press, trustees and special friends. Of course, on holiday weekends, the privileged flee, so it’s unlikely you’ll run into the likes of Jayne Wrightsman or Henry Kissinger, but Talleyrand and Madame X will prove acceptable replacements to most.

Who Kidnapped Brooke Astor? (NEWS FLASH: She’s Been Found!)

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The Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute has a new-ish show, “American Woman,” exploring the modern woman through dress —a very original way to look at women, no? But that’s not what interests me most here. At the very end of the show, there’s a gallery where still images of 200 iconic American women are projected onto the wall as living symbols of female emancipation, and their physical and intellectual liberation. I just got a list of those women and some are very worthy, but it’s a missing name — the late Brooke Astor’s — that intrigues me most. Admittedly, she was … Continue reading

The Circle Game: The Whitney and the Metropolitan

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Art + Auction’s In the Air column revealed a few days ago that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is talking to the Whitney about taking over its Madison Avenue headquarters when and if the smaller institution moves to MePa. Rogues’ Gallery tells the whole saga of the pas de deux between the two museums, including the hilarious tale of how a merger was discussed for nearly twenty years and a Whitney Wing designed to be added to the Met, only to have the whole thing blow up over issues of curatorial arrogance and donor ambition (the two main subjects of … Continue reading

“Greed is good… material”

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Bedford-Katonah Patch’s Jessica Schneidman reports on last week’s CrossTalk benefit in the Katona Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden which paired a certain author with the actress Patricia Clarkson (above right). “In addition to their keen senses of humor, as one audience member remarked, both guests seemed focused on ‘authenticity’ and the exposition of greed, corporate and otherwise,” she writes. Speaking of greed and good material, today’s New York Post highlights administrator salaries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a story titled “Culture vultures.” Suzanne Brenner, the Met’s chief investment officer, made $1.28 million as she watched the value of … Continue reading

Patricia Clarkson and Me? Wheee!

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Oscar-nominated actresss Patricia Clarkson (above lower right in the SNL short Motherlover) and I appear together and separately tomorrow night at Crosstalk, a benefit for The Katonah Museum of Art and the Katonah Village Library. It starts with a reception at 6:30 PM at the museum at 134 Jay Street in Katonah, NY. “It’s usually the literati who show up here and not the glitterati,” Clarkson told a local newpspaer. “I do have to share a stage with Michael Gross, which is intimidating, but I will try to hold my own. I’ll be wearing a very short skirt.” In response, … Continue reading

The Mob=The Met?

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The Art Newspaper, the foremost international source of art news, asks today if the Metropolitan Museum of Art is behaving like the Cosa Nostra. “Omertà and oral history might seem a contradiction in terms, but great museums move in mysterious, some might say Sicilian ways as the writer Michael Gross discovered,” it observes. In writing anything at all about The Book That Must Not Be Mentioned, The Art Newspaper is breaking the ring of silence that has surrounded Rogues’ Gallery since it was first pubished last year. Some dare call it news. For much of the art press, however, the … Continue reading

Pub Day: “An amazing tale of intrigue”

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Rogues’ Gallery (the paperback) is in stores today. Tonight at 7:30 PM, I’ll be giving the annual Endowment Fund Lecture for the Rockville Centre Public Library at my alma mater, the South Side Middle School (67 Hillside Avenue). Check the link for further details and to buy tickets. Thursday night, I’m speaking about the book at the Association of the Bar of New York (42 West 44th Street 6-8PM) as part of its Books at the Bar program (free and open to the public). Presumably any new threats of litigation against it will be dealt with on the spot.

Quote(s) of the day

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Today’s Page Six quotes my recent blog post on last week’s so-called Party of the Year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And responding to my Huffington Post post, Oral-Gate (reprinted just below), on the Smithsonian refusing to keep the Metropolitan’s secrets, Jesse Kornbluth at headbutler wonders, “When is the Met going to grow up?” C’mon Jesse, the museum isn’t even 150 yet!

Oral-gate: More Secrets at the Metropolitan Museum

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When I began researching Rogues Gallery, my “social” history of the leaders and benefactors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I discovered that although the institution celebrates the history of human creation, the Met’s keepers were profoundly anti-historical when it came to their own story. “If we say we won’t cooperate, will you go away?” was the first response of the Met’s chief flack who, ironically, moonlights writing history books himself. Little did I know that another great American museum — The Smithsonian Institution — would not only agree with me, but would, when push came to shove, refuse to … Continue reading

History made “palatable”

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The annual Vogue magazine corporate promotion party… oh, sorry, the Metropolitan Museum’s annual Party of the Year for its Costume Institute… was held last night and inspired the usual outpouring of uncritical praise from press folk who probably did not pay the $15,000-per-plate price of admission. Once the exclusive social event of the year, the party is now a paparazzi photo-op for movie and TV stars, a fashion marketing vehicle and a staging ground for six months of features for Vogue. Once the exclusive province of society demi-Goddeses like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Marella Agnella, Babe Paley and Pat Buckley, it … Continue reading

Announcing the Rogues’ Gallery paperback launch event

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The updated paperback edition of Rogues’ Gallery will be launched May 5th at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn. Read about the event here.

Ghost Story

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Tom Hoving makes a posthumous appearance on Page Six today with his new BFF and successor as Metropolitan Museum director Guy-Philippe Lannes de Montebello, who was known as Mr. Five Names when he ran an art museum in Texas. A nugget concerning Montebello’s appearance (above) at Hoving’s memorial early this month, it’s the first leak from the new afterword to the paperback edition of Rogues’ Gallery (out May 11).

Rogues’ Gallery Theme Song

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I think books should have theme songs. This one’s for Rogues’ Gallery. Thanks to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Am I Blue?

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A note last night from Avatar co-star Stephen Lang‘s PR woman informed me that my much-publicized upcoming appearance on May 20th (at 6:30 PM) at the Katonah Museum and Katonah Village Library’s CrossTalk series, featuring two experts talking on unrelated topics, will not be with Lang, but with Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson. (All CrossTalk events begin with a wine reception at 6:30, followed by the program. Proceeds support children’s programs at the Museum and the Library, which will be the site of the talk. Prepaid reservations required; please call the KMA for reservations — $20 in advance; $25 at … Continue reading

Want the inside skinny on Manhattan society? Come to Brooklyn, Briarcliff Manor, Rockville Centre, Katonah or the New York Bar Association.

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The updated paperback edition of Rogues’ Gallery will be published on May 11th. But there will be a sneak preview on May 5th, when PowerHouse Arena hosts the paperback launch party from 7 to 9 PM. Michael M. Thomas, the author, acerbic journalist and former curator of the Metropolitan Museum, will match wits with Michael Gross in a discussion of the book and the controversy it created. Join the fun at 37 Main Street, Brooklyn, NY Also, on Sunday May 2, 2010, Michael Gross will speak at the Arts Abloom festival, a benefit for the Briarcliff Library and Community Center … Continue reading

“The heaven that leads men to hell”

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In a provocative post on his literary web site, The Valve, William Benzon compares Shakespeare’s King Lear to the tragedy of Brooke Astor and her son, Anthony Marshall, both former trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art who experienced what can be gently termed image issues in old age. “In the end Anthony Marshall was sacrificed in a magical effort to maintain the Astor myth at face value,” Benzon concludes. “It’s as though Whomever was trying to deny Brooke Astor’s mortality, and her dementia, by insisting [that] Marshall did her in — there were, for example, unsubstantiated rumors [of] urine-stained … Continue reading

Will wonders never cease?

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Eleven months into the life of a book, surprises are usually hard to find. But Rogues’ Gallery earned two this week. One of New York’s finest book stores, Rizzoli on 57th Street, has put it in the front window (above, lower left) for the first time, and the Albright Memorial Library serving Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, PA, the hometown of the late Metropolitan Museum trustee Charles Wrightsman’s first wife, has recommended it on its blog, calling it “the compelling true story of the coupling of art with commerce (and mystery).”

Tom Terrific (and his era) Remembered

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No snark today. I’m just back from Tom Hoving’s memorial at the Temple of Dendur and it was a touching and happy event from the moment his daughter Trea Hoving (who organized the whole thing with her mother Nancy Hoving) stepped to a podium in front of one of those marvelous sprays of flowers (donated to Hoving’s Met in perpetuity by Lila Acheson Wallace) and said “Morning! I had the coolest dad!” In fact, I was touched even before I went inside by the honor guard the Parks Department placed out front, and another as guests walked through the doors … Continue reading

In the matter of looting

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Looting Matters, a blog about archaeology and ethics by the distinguished scholar David Gill of Swansea University, name-checks Rogues’ Gallery today in a post about the famously looted Morgantina Silver, returned to Italy by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008 and currently on display at the Palazzo Massimo of the Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome (through May 23). In his wonderfully understated way, Gill notes that the book “says a great deal about the Met’s attitude to enlightenment and cosmopolitan ideals.”

Requiem for a Heavyweight

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Today’s local community newspaper quotes my 1997 profile of Patrick McCarthy, outgoing editorial director of W and WWD. “Bite the hand that feeds you,” he told me. “Never stop biting it. And you know what? It will feed you more.” Protege of the legendary editor-publisher John Fairchild, McCarthy was famous for following that dictum, but he also protected his powerful pals right up to the end. After he punished me for letting Vogue see a copy of Model at the same time W did by cancelling a story on the book, I learned to give his publications first looks at … Continue reading

Guts & Glory

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The Fairfield Museum and History Center has a lot of nerve. Rogues Gallery will be the featured book tonight at its History Book Club. Join the discussion at 7 PM at 370 Beach Road, Fairfield, CT.

Yes, that’s $1.25 per room

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My post yesterday on Metropolitan Museum of Art director Thomas Campbell‘s $10.00 (yes, ten dollars, it’s no typo) Fifth Avenue apartment didn’t include a description or floor plan because I didn’t have one. The apartment floorplan above found by a Gripebox reader is not Campbell’s, but it’s the same line — one floor up. It shows a 20 X 30 ft. living room next to a library and master bedroom, all with windows on Fifth, a second bedroom, a maid’s room, and a kitchen with pantry, as well as a foyer the size of some studio apartments. The reader asks, … Continue reading

I’ll take one of those…

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Back in 1991, William Luers, then president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, moved into an apartment on the second floor of 993 Fifth Avenue, a distinguished limestone building by architect Emery Roth, right across the street from the museum. It had previously sheltered Luers’ predecessor William Macomber, and would subsequently be passed to his successor David McKinney. It’s changed hands twice in the years since, according to city records. On November 28, 2005, it was sold by McKinney to his successor, Emily Kernan Rafferty for a mere $10, though she apparently never moved in, for last March 31, when … Continue reading

Giving Museums Characters

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On New York Social Diary today, David Patrick Columbia unveils the all-new paperback jacket of Rogues’ Gallery, starring Henry Kissinger, Brooke Astor, J. Pierpont Morgan, Andy Warhol and Anna Wintour (click here to see it) and generously adds, “Michael Gross loves research and loves details but mostly he loves the characters in his books. They’re all out of a movie or a novel for this guy who has the perspicacity to dig the tales out from under the rocks that make the characters what they are.” Problem is, you can’t make this stuff up. The truth really is stranger than … Continue reading

Rogues, blogged

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Ten months after publication, Rogues’ Gallery continues to draw readers and praise around the world. This week, three blogs cited the book. Pravdakino, by Indonesian film and video student Veronika Kusumaryati calls it “worthy reading but in some parts, regrettable due to its writer’s love of gossip and drama. But I still think it should be read by art history students and those who are curious about the life of the rich people who made USA.” Turn The Page by Birmingham, Alabama, writer Susan Swagler, recommends it. And I’m A Domestic Goddess, a blog by an anonymous “mother, wife and … Continue reading