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Rogues Gallery
Buy “Rogues’ Gallery”

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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

April 25th, 2016

Fashion Notes: #focusyourselfie

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 bottles. Luxury fashion may be walking dead but self-expression through dress won’t die with it.”

October 20th, 2015

Another one bites the dust: RIP Bookhampton

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?

December 8th, 2014

All I want for Christmas/Chanuka is an $88 million penthouse

Rogues Gallery
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 can similarly reach for the heights of Manhattan real estate with 740 Park. It’s “compulsively readable,”
according to Liesl Schillinger of The New York Times.

May 20th, 2014

Another record for Rybolovlev: the world’s costliest divorce. Also, a Met Museum book update, and RIP Arthur Gelb

Rogues Gallery final cover15 Central Park West
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 its until-now less than stellar collection of modern and contemporary art. Triggered by a generous donation from philanthropist and cosmetics heir Leonard Lauder, the renovations may also finally bring about the opening of a long-promised entrance to the museum from Central Park. That nugget (minus any mention of the long-simmering controversy over the park-side door) is buried deep in the announcement made by the museum through the New York Times, whose former chairman, the late Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger, was also the museum’s chairman from 1987 to 1998. The uncensored history of the museum–including its tortured courtship and shotgun marriage with modern art, the saga of the soon-to-be-renamed Lila Acheson Wallace wing, the empty promises that allowed that wing to be built in the first place, and how the Met and the Sulzberger family joined forces and cleansed its troubled reputation–is all told in Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret Story of the Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals that Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art. UPDATE: Arthur Gelb, the brilliant and incredibly courageous New York Times Arts section editor who exposed the Met’s foibles even as Punch sat on its board, and inspired generations or reporters, including this one, died today at 90. Sam Roberts has written a remarkable obituary of a remarkable man. Back in the day, his kind of balls were the norm, not the exception.

May 5th, 2014

I like the isle of Manhattan…even Inwood

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.

May 5th, 2014

Help Save Bookhampton

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 their doors. In NYC alone: Coliseum Books, Gotham, Endicott, Shakespeare & Co., Murder Ink, the lovely Madison Avenue
Bookshop, the incomparable Books & Co., BN Lincoln Center and now Rizzoli – all gone. A good friend asked if there’s anything that we can do to hold on to
BookHampton. As I tried to find one more answer, the brilliant metaphor of the great writer Anne LaMott came to mind. “My brother,” she wrote in
Bird by Bird, “was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day… he was at the kitchen table close
to tears… immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said,
‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'” So here then is my answer and a heartfelt request: Could you please help us take on the enormous challenge of saving BookHampton book by book. If every one of our friends, neighbors, and booklovers would be so kind as to buy one book today, it would make a true and immediate difference:
Please take a moment to order just one book right now from BookHampton
Any book at all.
Tell us the book you’re looking for or let us make a great recommendation. We’ll hold it in store or ship it anywhere!
Or call us : (631) 324-4939 or (631) 488-5953.
BookHampton is the literary cornerstone of our community; the beach, the farms, and this bookstore enrich all our lives and nourish our souls.
Thank you, in advance, for taking the time today to save BookHampton book by book.
Charline and Chris, Billy, Kim, Taylor, Mary, Sarah, Greg, Kate, Ken

January 16th, 2014

Grazing the news for Gripepad obsessions

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.