Wet Paint: Aby Rosen’s Gramercy Park Hotel Is About to Get Evicted, Jay-Z and Beyoncé Scoop Up New Art, & More Art-World Gossip
What buzzy Christie's sale bombed? Which Manhattan art-world haunts are closing for the winter? Read on for answers.
Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops reported and written by Nate Freeman. If you have a tip, email Nate at [email protected].
THE GRAMERCY STARES DOWN THE GUILLOTINE
There hasn’t been much action at the Gramercy Park Hotel this year. The posh crash pad owned by mega-collector Aby Rosen’s RFR Holding usually plays host to art and fashion bashes at Maialino while bad revelers clink cocktails under massive Damien Hirst spot paintings at Rose Bar. Perhaps more than any of his properties, Rosen has treated the Gramercy as something of a private museum. Twombly in the lobby, Salle in the suites, Warhol portraits in the hallways.
This year it’s been crickets at the Gramercy. When the lockdown began, sources reported that the grand hotel—where every guest gets coveted access to the eponymous residents-only park—had occupancy in the “single digits.” The hotel stopped taking clientele soon after the March shutdown, and planned for a reopening when vaccinations let the fashion-forward get back on that diet of gallery shindigs in fancy hotels.
Now, it appears that the hotel’s closure is about to become way more permanent. A notice pasted to the door indicates that Rosen’s company owes nearly $900,000 in unpaid rent. (RFR owns the hotel, but in a rare, only-in-New York real estate twist, the dirt underneath the structure is owned by someone else.) To keep the property, Rosen pays $5.3 million per year to the estate of Sol Goldman, the late acreage kingpin of Gotham who at one point owned nearly 1,900 separate parcels of this former Lenape island.
But RFR has not paid for November and December, and management has had enough. According to a document obtained by Wet Paint, if Rosen doesn’t fork over the cash by December 28, the hotel and its accompanying boîtes all get the boot. The 14-day notice demanding $879,666.66 is dated December 2 and is addressed to a corporation with the same address as the RFR offices. The document is signed by Louisa Little, an administrator at Solil Management, the company that represents Sol Goldman’s estate.
If Rosen refuses to pay up, it will mark the end of an era for the consummate art-world hotel. In the 1990s, it was the first host of the Gramercy International Art Fair, which went on to become The Armory Show. The spot was then bought by Ian Schrager, who convinced Julian Schnabel to design the interiors, his first public decorating commission.
After Schrager sold it to Rosen in 2010, it remained for a decade an easy choice for power gatherings. On a May night in 2011, according to an old Artforum “Scene & Herd” column, the single terrace played host to both a Metro Pictures dinner for Louise Lawler and an Andrew Kreps dinner for Roe Ethridge, while the whole place was festooned with Aby’s George Condos.
Little did not respond to an email requesting comment. RFR declined to comment. Rosen could not be reached.
HOLA, HOVITO’S NEW FAVORITE ARTIST
At this point, we’re all pretty aware that Jay-Z and Beyoncé are serious collectors of contemporary art. Lest we forget: Picassos in the casa, Rothkos not brothels, a billion Jeff Koons balloons, Condos in his condos.
But there are also lesser-known artists that Jay and Bey are snapping up, and we here at Wet Paint like to keep you informed on such matters. A few weeks back, we mentioned that the couple barely missed out on buying an Amoako Boafo in 2019. But they did snap up work by another promising young artist.
According to sources, this fall they bought work by the Jamaica-born artist Cosmo Whyte, who currently has a show up at Anat Ebgi in Los Angeles. It’s not clear which works the star couple bought, but the show features several large-scale gouache and charcoal paintings that directly address Black civil rights activism in the 1960s.
Ebgi, who founded the gallery in 2012 and recently opened a new space at 6150 Wilshire Boulevard catty corner from LACMA, declined to comment.
CHRISTIE’S LACKS SUPREME CLIENTELE
Auction houses are increasingly betting that luxury and streetwear will be their meal ticket going into 2021. As of November 20, Sotheby’s has staged 160 sales of watches, jewelry, fancy bags, and other assorted bling. Which might be how we get something like a sale at Christie’s dedicated entirely to onetime legendary downtown skate apparel brand Supreme.
But the Supreme cool factor may have already lost its momentum—maybe because the brand the New York Times once called “a company that refuses to sell out” just sold to the parent company of normcore apparel juggernauts Jansport and Eastpak for $2.1 billion.
For whatever reason, Christie’s sale of assorted Supreme-related “rarities,” “Behind the Box 1994–2020,” didn’t exactly light the market on fire. Eighteen of the 47 lots failed to sell, including the cover lot: a complete collection of Supreme stickers. The house hoped that pack of collectibles would bring in $40,000, but nobody even wagered a bid.
For its part, Christie’s says its not phased. “As this is a new category for Christie’s and our first dedicated sale of its kind, we are looking at success metrics of lots that performed well against their estimates and the reach to new audiences,” a spokesperson told Wet Paint. “We saw many lots achieve in multiples against their low estimate, as well as an impressive 63 percent new bidders across the Americas, Europe, and Asia interacting in the sale.”
A related private sale of every Supreme shirt ever made, which the house expected to bring in as much as $2 million, has yet to find any takers, according to sources.
Christie’s marketing materials tie Supreme’s look to the artist Barbara Kruger, who in fact invented the aesthetic that the brand ripped off wholesale. Somehow, they forgot to mention that, when asked about Supreme, Kruger called the company “a ridiculous clusterf*ck of totally uncool jokers” and mocked them relentlessly with a performative drop.
Not a single reader got last week’s answer correct! This has only happened once before, and per the rules, if no one gets it right, we don’t reveal the correct answer. Sorry, y’all!
Here’s one that might be slightly easier. Name the artist who made this painting, the artist depicted in the painting, and the owner of the painting.
The winners won’t be announced until the next Wet Paint arrives in the new year—but the victors will get hats! Brand spankin’ new Wet Paint hats that will knock your socks off! Email guesses to [email protected].
Jeff Koons has finally made a video for MasterClass, and a truly unforgettable trailer indicates that it’s chock full of kooky Koonsian koans like “colors carry meaning,” “as we go into the three dimensional, we’re dealing with form,” and “everything about you, it’s perfect” … The artist-slash-dealer Joel Mesler will have a show at David Kordansky in January 2021—a reunion of sorts, since the two were roommates when they were first starting out in LA’s Chinatown in the early aughts …
Artist Roe Ethridge at the guerrilla launch for the latest issues of Masochist, a zine edited by critic David Rimanelli and published by artist Ryan Foerster’s Ratstar Press alongside gallery Shoot the Lobster, in a traffic triangle in the middle of Canal Street—Ethridge offered work for issue eight of the zine and Richard Prince made the drawings for issue number seven, though it’s unclear if Prince made an appearance at the launch Sunday, incognito or otherwise *** Uncut Gems actress Julia Fox at the Dimes holiday sale Sunday, where the Dimes Square namesake restaurant brought some holiday cheer to the beloved downtown Manhattan two-block stretch *** Regulars having one last dinner at Lucien on Sunday night before the art world’s favorite haunt closed its doors until indoor dining resumes in New York City *** A number of artists, dealers, and writers freezing their tails off on Tuesday while having what may have been the last cone of french fries at The Odeon before a snowstorm blanketed New York ***
Wet Paint will be off for the next two weeks, due to Christmas and New Years. It will return January 8. Happy holidays!
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