Jay Maisel is best known for the incredibly expressive stories he tells through his beautiful photography. But in recent years, he’s become perhaps just as well known for his New York City real estate story where he made the deal of the century when he sold his home, the Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery. What he’s not at all known for, though, are the stories he tells through the hundreds of thousands of memories that fill his home and studio.
Maisel, who may appear gruff on the exterior (at 87 years-old, he still likes to shock), is actually incredibly kind and sentimental. He misses his home and all his toys that once filled the 35,000-square-foot building. Although he was initially intimidated by the size and upkeep costs of 190 Bowery, Maisel grew to love the home and raise his family there for 50 years. In 2015, he sold the building for $55 million and purchased a stately townhouse on Pacific Street in Cobble Hill for $15.5 million. (At the time, it was the most expensive townhouse sale in Brooklyn.) 6sqft sat down with Maisel and discussed his real estate coup, his move to Brooklyn (which is not “the city” in his view) and his most recent New York City photography series, entitled “Jaywalking.”
Hear from Jay and get an inside look at his life and work
Image: Before the 2005 sale
It’s been two-and-a-half years since developer Aby Rosen of RFR Realty scooped up the former Germania Bank Building for $55 million. He bought it from photographer Jay Maisel, who in 1966 turned the then-abandoned landmark into his own private 72-room mansion. After removing the Nolita building’s iconic graffiti last summer, Rosen is now all systems go for his conversion to an office building with ground-floor retail. As the Post reports, Seattle-based fashion retailer Totokaelo (who counts among its designer offerings Acne Studios, Comme des Garçons, Jil Sander and Proenza Schouler) signed a lease for 8,918 square feet at street level. However, the deal only covers early fall through March 2018 for a large-scale pop-up store.
All the details ahead
190 Bowery getting a bath; photo via Bowery Boogie
Though the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a proposal to restore the former Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery with its controversial coat of graffiti intact, the on-again-off-again spray paint layer looks to be on its way out according to onlookers (h/t Bowery Boogie). Power-washing and a “paint-removal system” are reportedly underway, disappearing decades of scrawl.
Refresh your memory on what’s in the future for 190 Bowery
EDITOR’S NOTE: An RFR Realty representative reached out to Curbed to say that 190 Bowery is NOT for sale. The listing is not current and will be removed from Cushman & Wakefield’s site.
It seems like the saga of 190 Bowery is never going to be over. As you’ll recall, photographer Jay Maisel turned the former Germania Bank Building into his own private mansion and lived there from 1966 until February of this year, at which time he sold it to developer Aby Rosen of RFR Realty for $55 million. Like we previously said, “Since that time, it’s been all eyes on Rosen. Is he removing or preserving that iconic graffiti? What the heck happened with that ‘public’ art show inside the building?”
And though the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved plans in May for a restoration and conversion to an office building with ground-floor retail, it now seems that Rosen may be getting cold feet. Curbed reports that he’s taking offers for 190 Bowery in what looks like a very high-profile flip attempt.
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- Keith Haring’s six-story Statue of Liberty mural is going up for auction. [NYP]
- Turns out there is some validity to the “Whole Paycheck” nickname for Whole Foods. The grocery store has been overcharging for pre-packaged foods. [Gothamist]
- Past and present: Manhattan Beach’s “Apartcot” bungalow colony. [Brownstoner]
- According to an interview with real estate investor Aby Rosen, when Jay Maisel moved out of 190 Bowery, he left behind a 26-year collection of Playboy and Hustler magazines, as well as a collection of 5,000 screwdrivers, all lined up. [New Yorker]
- The creator of the pink plastic lawn flamingo has passed away at age 79. [Guardian]
Images: Whole Foods (L); 190 Bowery (R)
If you’ve been following the saga of 190 Bowery, the former Germania Bank Building turned private mansion, you know that photographer Jay Maisel sold it to developer Aby Rosen of RFR Realty for $55 million back in February (he paid just $102,000 for it in 1966). Since that time, it’s been all eyes on Rosen. Is he removing or preserving that iconic graffiti? What the heck happened with that “public” art show inside the building?
But what about Maisel? Well, he certainly made out well, swapping one mansion for another. The Times reports that he is the buyer of the $15.5 million brick carriage house at 177 Pacific Street in Cobble Hill, the most expensive single residence ever sold in Brooklyn. He did downsize a bit, though. As Curbed notes, 190 Bowery was 37,000 square feet, while his new townhouse is 10,000.
More on Maisel’s new home
After several weeks of back and forth on whether or not the new owner of 190 Bowery, Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty, would keep its iconic graffiti, it’s now official that the historic Germania Bank Building will remain in all its tagged glory. As Yimby reports, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the proposed restoration and conversion to an office building with ground-floor retail. The plan, conceptualized by preservation architecture firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners with the help of MdeAS Architects, “calls for restoration of metal gates, wooden doors, stained glass, and other elements, but not removing the graffiti or cleaning the façade.”
More on the approved plans here
Those who have been mourning the loss of 190 Bowery to the clutches of the rich can breathe a slight sigh of relief. Just a month after having some of its graffiti removed, the WSJ reports that the former Germania Bank—and former home of photographer Jay Maisel—has just inked its first lease. The tenant, “a company made up of agencies representing creative professionals in the industry of luxury and fashion image-making” has signed on for nearly 30,000 square feet and says that it will maintain all of the building’s historic touches, from “its marble wash basins to the graffiti covering the lower part of the facade.”
Find out more
Image courtesy of Lori Zimmer
We all knew this day would come. 190 Bowery is currently undergoing a deep cleaning as its new owners prime it for its next life as a luxury mixed-use condo/retail development.
One of New York’s most mysterious buildings continues to come further into light, now with a brand new marketing video (h/t EV Grieve) that not only shows us images of the building completely graffiti-free, but how its former owner, photographer Jay Maisel, had set up his work and living spaces. The three-minute video offers up a fly-through tour of the home, focusing in on just how spectacular and well-kept the interiors are. There are stunning shots that zoom in on the ornate moulding, others that zip through the vault, and close-ups of the iron work that adorn the staircases and elevator—in addition to a slew of other incredible details. The walls are also covered in Maisel’s modern works, which juxtapose nicely with their historic setting.
Maisel purchased the 72-room, 35,000-square-foot building—originally built in 1898 as the Germania Bank—for just $102,000 back in the ’70s, calling it his family home and studio for decades. The photographer inked a deal to sell the home last year to developer Aby Rosen and recently filed records show that he received a whopping $55 million for the six-story structure. Rosen is currently marketing the building as a retail-condo development.
[Via EV Grieve via Popular Photography]
Video by Digital Destinations