‘Interview’ Magazine Will Relaunch in September After Peter Brant Essentially Repurchased It From Himself
Because of the bankruptcy, Brant doesn't have to pay $3.3 million in debt to employees and freelancers.
It was a sad day in May when Interview magazine—the fashion, art, and pop culture glossy founded by Andy Warhol in 1969—announced that it was ceasing operations after years of financial struggles. Now, however, the magazine’s longtime owner, art collector Peter Brant, is reportedly on the verge of relaunching the beloved title, free and clear of $3.3 million in debt owed to former employees and freelancers. How did he manage it? By essentially repurchasing the publication’s assets from himself.
Women’s Wear Daily, which has been following the magazine’s Chapter 7 Bankruptcy proceedings closely, suggests that this may have been Brant’s plan all along. (Neither Brant nor a spokesperson for Interview immediately responded to a request for comment.)
Within four days of the bankruptcy filing, Brant’s daughter, Interview president Kelly Brant, sent out a memo announcing their intention to acquire the magazine’s intellectual property and relaunch with a September issue through a newly formed holding company, Crystal Ball Media.
Now, it looks like that plan is coming to fruition, as Brant’s $1.5 million offer to purchase Interview’s assets out of bankruptcy, made through a holding company, was approved by a New York bankruptcy court on Tuesday and is set to close Friday. Brant, a major collector of Warhol’s work, originally purchased Interview for $10 million in 1989, following the artist’s death. After years of keeping the magazine afloat with cash infusions, he was its only secured creditor (a legal term that puts him first in line to be paid back), with a claim of over $8 million.
Outside parties had expressed an interest in purchasing the magazine, including former editorial director Fabian Baron, who quit in April and sued Brant, claiming to be owed $600,000. But anyone other than Brant would have had to pay roughly $10 million to secure the title in order to satisfy Brant’s claim. (Brant had a unique workaround as both a potential buyer and the magazine’s sole secured creditor.)
Baron, the former editorial director, is among the 300 writers, editors, photographers, models, and agents who, as unsecured creditors, will now likely never be paid what they are owed by the magazine. (Full disclosure: the author was employed Brant Publications from 2010 to 2014, working first as an intern and then the editorial assistant for Art in America, as well as writing two online articles for Interview, for which she was never paid.) Going through bankruptcy essentially wipes out those debts, allowing Brant to restart Interview with a clean bill of financial health.
A memo announcing Interview’s rise from the dead insisted that “the future looks bright indeed,” noting that the publicity coverage of the bankruptcy had led to 15,000 new Instagram followers and “likely introduced the brand to a whole new audience of young people.” The memo also included a quote from Warhol: “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
The September issue of Interview will reportedly feature model Hari Nef on the cover. Nick Haramis will resume his role as editor-in-chief and Mel Ottenberg is set to replace Karl Templer—who resigned in April, several months after the Boston Globe published allegations of sexual harassment against him that he denies—as creative director.
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