The New Museum Celebrates the Demise of CBGB, Rise of John Varvatos


The conversion of CBGB into a fancy boot emporium is ancient news at this point, and as evil or wrongheaded as John Varvatos has often seemed on the Bowery–a sliver of the old wall, behind glass! Guns N’ Roses!–putting CBGB out of its misery in 2006 was a mercy killing. It hadn’t been good for a long, long time. At the same time, attempts to leverage the club’s considerable legacy into commercial credibility on what nowadays is called “Bowery 2.0” have never seemed less than cynical, or worse–DBGB, anyone? So though at this point we’re not surprised when people call on the memory of Hilly Kristal to help up-sell commercial real estate, it’s sad to see a tenant as respected as the New Museum getting in on the act. The image above is part of a brochure the museum’s real estate goons put together to help advertise commercial space in a building the New Museum owns adjacent to their own, at 231 Bowery. There are more where that came from:

In part, this about getting old: you would not have been able to talk people with money into parting with it on account of the fading aura of a dirty punk rock club, circa CBGB’s heyday. But now, pitching proximity to “the American cradle of punk rock” is apparently a profitable tactic, given how often people seem to do it. Couple that with a few banks, a Whole Foods, and bunch of other clothing vendors, both high (Rogan) and low (H&M), and you have a shiny brochure tailor-made for leasing property in what was once a flea-ridden vice conduit. That the New Museum is involved is actually quite fitting; their brand of brash yet privately-sponsored avant-garde, familiar to anyone who followed last year’s Dakis Joannou/Jeff Koons melee, has everything to do with money and access, and very little to do with anything actually all that discomfiting–John Varvatos values if there ever were any.

Bowery Mission Accomplished, New Museum Looks to Capitalize [Curbed]
Property Profile: 231 Bowery [CB Richard Ellis]