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Aby Rosen on His 190 Bowery Play Thing: “Graffiti is Nice” But the Gritty 70s Are Long Gone

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The scene outside 190 Bowery during Vito Schnabel’s infamous art show.

Last we checked in on the former Germania Bnak Building at 190 Bowery in May, the huddled masses were being turned away from Vito Schnabel’s allegedly open art show in the 1898 Beaux Arts beauty. Recently the New Yorker got to hang out with Aby Rosen, the real estate mogul who purchased the building last year for $55 million. Here’s what we learned from the piece, published the other day.

>Because “mysterious seventy-two-room single-family homes are something of a rarity in Manhattan,” there have been a few break-ins, which is why “a Rosen retainer named Joe stood guard inside” with a baseball bat within easy reach.

>Photographer Jay Maisel, who previously owned the building, was given six months to find someplace else to live. Rosen said he left all sorts of junk behind: “Penthouse and Hustler and Playboy magazines, everything catalogued, from 1956 to 1982,” and “five thousand screwdrivers, all lined up.”

>The new creative agency leasing the top floors must restore the interiors. As Rosen put it, “There’s no ripping out and going all modern.” He continues to look for a “wow” retail tenant for the ground floor. If you want that space, it will set your back $2.2 million.

>On the gentrification of the once downtrodden block, Rosen said, “Bowery’s on fire. Bowery’s cool. Bowery’s smart… It’s always been beautiful here—it was just dilapidated, run down.”

>As for the graffiti that has long defined 190 Bowery, he observed, “It gives the building some sort of aura, some sort of cachet… But, once the building is finished, who knows? I mean, graffiti is nice, like the gritty seventies of New York. But let’s be honest—those days are gone.”


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  1. Note that when the Landmarks Preservation Commission recently approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for changes to the building, they explicitly included retention of the graffiti. Mr. Rosen might need a permit to remove it.

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