BlackBook Magazine Sold to Founder

The latest issue of BlackBook.

Late last week BlackBook magazine finalized a new ownership deal that sold the media company from Vibe Media Holdings to Jon Bond of the ad agency Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners and Evanly Schindler, who founded BlackBook in 1996 before serving as president of Interview magazine and co-owner of the restaurant Acme. Read More

Demolition Derby

Owners Demolishing Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Mercedes-Benz Showroom

An SL-Class Roadster at the Mercedes-Benz Headquarters, Eleventh Avenue (Credit: Al Barbarino)

Following Mercedes-Benz’s departure in January from the showroom it occupied at 430 Park Avenue since the late 1950’s, ownership is demolishing the space, The Commercial Observer has learned.

The demolition began last week following the luxury car dealer’s departure on January 7, when it consolidated its operations at its national headquarters at 770 Eleventh Avenue, sources confirmed, including Roque Toribio, a security guard at the Park Avenue location who was not authorized to give The Commercial Observer a peek at the space. Read More

Spring Arts Preview 2013

Revolution Blues: Rachel Kushner’s New Novel Examines Rebellion, Both Real and Staged

Rachel Kushner

A few weeks back, when I called the author Rachel Kushner in Los Angeles with the number her publicist gave me, and the voice came on the other line saying “I’m sorry but the number you are trying to reach has been disconnected,” the first thing I thought—after noting that it’s an overly apologetic man who makes the announcement in L.A. instead of the stern-sounding woman you get in New York—was that it was all some kind of staged performance, a statement on the nature of interviews and profile writing and the futility of ever really connecting with someone. I was primed into this mode of thinking by Ms. Kushner’s new novel, The Flamethrowers, which is about a lot of things, but most of all authenticity and its frequent absence.

The Flamethrowers is set in Soho in 1977 and follows a young artist known around town as Reno because that’s where she’s from. She falls in with a group of artists who show at the Helen Hellenberger Gallery, whose proprietor tends to sleep with her artists, comes from a Greek family, and resembles the real-life Mary Boone, who created a gallery empire in downtown Manhattan in the late-70s. Reno is introduced to the group by Giddle, a woman who works at a skuzzy diner on Lafayette as a kind of living performance piece, “no audience to what she was doing, since it was so much like life, and no real friends since they were merely an audience to her performance.” Reno’s attentions become triangulated by her boyfriend Sandro, an idealistic artist and, despite his disavowals, heir to the Italian Valera tire fortune, and Ronnie, a photographer embarking on a doomed mission to photograph every living person. It’s a New York that’s familiar, “a mecca of individual points,” Ms. Kushner writes, “longings, all merging into one great light-pulsing mesh, and you simply found your pulse, your place.” But the author’s metropolis is slightly off, its own contained world of characters and hangers-on. Read More

Critical Mass

Architecture Immemorial: Ada Louise Huxtable

Huxtable, everlasting. (Getty)

“Whatever Philip Johnson’s legacy turns out to be, it will not rest on his buildings,” Ada Louise Huxtable wrote in her obituary of “the king’s architect” in The Wall Street Journal seven years ago. Mr. Johnson had once told Ms. Huxtable of his desire to work for royalty. Not finding any, Ms. Huxtable concluded, he Read More

2012 in review

The 2012 Designer Dozen: New York’s Best New Architecture Is a Celebration of Public Space

13 Photos

Four Freedoms, Louis Kahn, Roosevelt Island

It has been an exciting year for architecture in the city, with bold projects unveiled and getting underway: the new Cornell tech campus by Thom Mayne and SOM, a vastly re-imagined (and boldly so) Hudson Yards and modular housing getting off the ground at Atlantic Yards.

But in terms of actual new, completed projects, 2012 has been a lean year. This is largely the fault of the recession. Downturns tend to stifle development generally, but especially when the heart of the slow down is a real estate bubble. Design can actually be at its best just after the bubble bursts, and the gaudiest visions are getting wrapped up. And so, there are no Frank Gehry towers or Diller, Scofidio + Renfro cultural confections this year. Read More

The Art World

Deconstructing Larry: Defections and Lawsuits Chip Gagosian’s Enamel

Illustration by Amy Melson

Tom Wolfe’s new novel, the Miami-set Back to Blood, has not been particularly well-received by book critics, but at the balmy, prosecco-soaked doorbuster sale and glad-handing jubilee known as Art Basel Miami Beach in early December, attendees armed with e-readers passed around one brief passage with gleeful approval. The scene, which comes midway through the book and is set at the same fair, introduces a character in whom many see an eerie resemblance to dealer Larry Gagosian—the art world’s widely admired, widely feared and widely resented top dog. The character, a gallery dealer named Harry Goshen (the name is perhaps a tip-off) is described as “a tall man with gray hair, although he doesn’t look all that old, and eerie pale-gray eyes like the slanted eyes of a husky.”

A bit mesmerized, Mr. Wolfe’s narrator circles back to Goshen’s eyes a few lines later: “So pale, those eyes … they look ghostly and sinister …”

Several fairgoers who encountered Mr. Gagosian in his booth in the Miami Beach Convention Center took note of his eyes as well. Not sinister, they said, just tired.

“Maybe it’s getting to him,” one art adviser surmised. “The travel, the expansion. At some point, it hits you the wrong way. It’s hard to satisfy everyone and keep all the balls in the air, and when you go to the top like that you become a target. People love to get the giant.”

It’s been an unusually challenging period for Mr. Gagosian, the art world’s silver-maned dealer-emperor, whose sharp eye for talent, business prowess and aggressive style of deal-making propelled an ascendancy from modest beginnings as a Los Angeles street peddler—hawking cheap posters in Westwood—to a position of unrivaled dominance in the international art trade, a sovereignty that some are predicting, a tad eagerly, may soon come to a close. Read More


Breakfast With Biesenbach

TK in Pasolini's 'The Canterbury Tales' (1972).

A veteran New York art dealer recently complained to the Transom that the city’s art world has become much less fun over the past few years, citing as evidence the fact that no one drinks at business lunches anymore. We’d heard this complaint from other art types before. But could there finally be a change on the horizon? Read More

Show Offs

Marilyn Monroe, Thomas Jefferson Among Sandy Refugees: Manuscript Show Moves Uptown After Fraunces Tavern Flood

A gallery that's not a gallery at 980 Madison.

What does a dispossessed Cherokee tribe, a John Lennon-Eric Clapton supergroup and Marilyn Monroe’s unborn son have in common? All were shopping for an apartment on the Upper East Side on Monday afternoon.

Well, not exactly, but it is possible to shop for both a $4 million apartment and a $40,000 manuscript at the Douglas Elliman showroom at 980 Madison Avenue through Sunday.

Profiles in History, a middlebrow auction house (Albert Einstein’s letter’s, the desk Bram Stoker wrote Dracula on, Kate Winslett’s emerald earrings from Titanic) and Marsha Malinowski, who once auctioned off a Magna Carta for $21 million, are offering some 299 items on December 18, “the Property of a Distinguished American Private Collector.” Ms. Malinowski, after 26 years at Sotheby’s, struck out in May on her own, and her first big offering is the work of the collector she has long known. Read More

Manhattan Transfers

A Done Deal: Barbara Gladstone Abandons Richard Meier’s Glass Tower

Ms. Gladstone.

Veteran gallery-owner Barbara Gladstone doesn’t only love art and artists, she’s also shown a strong commitment to starchitects. After buying a condo at Richard Meier’s 165 Charles Street in 2005, she tapped rising star Annabelle Seldorf to design her Chelsea gallery, which opened in 2008.

But now Ms. Gladstone is leaving behind her glass house along the Hudson River. City records show that she sold her condo, which does not appear to have been listed publicly, for $6.5 million. Not bad, considering that she paid $4.86 million for it, according to city records. Read More