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Preservationists who have long fought against the Frick Collection’s planned expansion are proposing a rather unique solution: the museum could take over Jeffrey Epstein’s “cursed mansion” across the street instead. “The fact that it’s so convenient to the museum means that the Frick could potentially lay Jeffrey Epstein’s name to rest by purchasing it and changing the function,” architect Theodore Grunewald, who runs preservationist group Save The Frick, told the Daily News. “It could essentially be cleansing the house.”
Under the Frick’s proposed expansion plan, the museum’s current music room will be gutted and transformed into a large exhibition area and nearly 6,000 square feet will be repurposed for a new education center and to improve wheelchair accessibility in the space. As 6sqft reported in 2018, the plan was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in a 6 to 1 vote. At the time, Grunewald called the approved plan “a vote for blandness.”
The Frick doesn’t agree with the Epstein proposal. “Our renovation and revitalization plan has been guided carefully by two key tenets—first and foremost, to preserve the unique, intimate experience of the Frick, and secondly, to ensure the long-term future of the museum and library,” deputy director Joe Shatoff said in a statement.
“A separate building across the street does not answer these needs and would not provide the critical adjacencies required to make it a functional solution.”
The seven-story townhouse at 9 East 71st Street where Epstein lived and allegedly sexually abused underage girls is reportedly worth $77 million. It’s still unclear exactly how the disgraced financier—who pled not guilty and was awaiting trial when he died by apparent suicide on August 10, 2019—came to own it. It was previously owned by Epstein’s mentor, Leslie H. Wexner, who bought the residence in 1989 for $13.2 million. The title was transferred to Epstein in 1996 for $0. Before Wexner, the property was home to the Birch Wathen School from 1962 to 1989.
Preservationist Jennifer McBride of Stop Irresponsible Frick Development added to the argument, saying that the move would make sense for the museum’s educational goals because the townhouse was a private school before it became Epstein’s lair.
[Via Daily News]
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Neighborhoods : Upper East Side