Fire Breaks Out at Aby Rosen’s Historic Building at 190 Bowery

The FDNY was called at about 7:30.

19 Bowery in 2009. Photo via Flickr user mt 23.

A fire broke out on the roof of 190 Bowery on the evening of August 8. The historic building, erected in 1899, is owned by art collector/dealer Aby Rosen. According to a spokesperson for Rosen, no one was on site during the incident, the fire was contained to a small area on the roof, and the building did not sustain any significant damage.

A spokesman for the Fire Department tells artnet News that there were no casualties in the blaze. The FDNY got the call at 7:45 and was on-scene in just under three minutes; 12 units and 60 fire fighters responded and got the fire under control by 8:33. Fire marshals are investigating the cause of the fire.

Rosen bought the building for $55 million in 2014. It had been in the hands of photographer Jay Maisel for five decades; Maisel reportedly paid $102,000 for the six-story, 37,000-square-foot building in 1966. It was previously home to the Germania Bank. Its façade had long been covered with graffiti, a reminder of the Lower East Side’s funkier history amid glossy condos rising all around it.

Its transformation into what Curbed New York says will be a “glitzy office building” is underway. At first, it seemed the iconic graffiti would remain through the restoration, which has been approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, but workers were spotted power-washing and removing it in March. In June, it was reported by Curbed that only one tag, by late graffiti artist Sean Griffin, known as NEKST, would be preserved.

Dealer Vito Schnabel mounted an exhibition in the historic building in May 2015; the show was mysteriously closed before it was scheduled to open, but artnet News managed to snag some pictures of the show.

Rosen collects works by blue-chip artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol. He has said that he invests as much as 10 percent of his money in art.

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