The Glass Tycoon

sitdown 0 The Glass TycoonLocation: You like to give parties with dozens of Russian violinists and industrial quantities of caviar. Is decadence your worst trait?

Mr. Rosen: The last thing I am is decadent. … I’m a big thinker; I do a lot of stuff; I enjoy life immensely. … When I throw parties, I blow a lot of money, you know what, so be it; that’s what I like to do.

 

That sounds like Trump. Do you think of yourself as a high-art Donald?

No. I love Donald because he’s a very unique guy—and he markets what he does with his character and his personality; I don’t do that. I don’t put my name on buildings; I don’t put my name on things. I’m not a commodity, I don’t market myself.

 

In 2006, it was reported that you had bought 350 West Broadway with your 40 Bond/Gramercy Park Hotel partner Ian Schrager to develop a hotel. Now it’s opening as a condo—without him. What happened?

No, no, no, I bought it alone. … We tried to buy the site next to it and the site behind it, and at that point I wanted it to be a hotel. And as I do most of my hotels, I at least talk to Ian about doing it in some sort of collaboration. … I love Ian as a friend and as a—he’s as good as they will ever make them. But I have my own organization.

 

It’s going to be a glass luxury Soho condo building with $9.575 million-and-up apartments with steam showers. Does New York City really need more glass condos?

New York never has enough of anything. I do think that glass condos will continue; glass is a great material, you can do whatever you want with it; you can bend it—look what we did at [40] Bond Street. We used glass, but in order to replicate the environment of a cast-iron district.

 

We’re sitting in 350 West Broadway’s sales center, where there’s an actual Basquiat in the bathroom and a huge George Condo portrait in the entryway, and you have a Warhol at the One Jackson sales center. When does art become just a sales gimmick?

Our sales office is basically a home; so you walk into a home and the home has great furniture, a great bathroom, a great kitchen, and great art. … I actually asked George to produce a piece of art site-specific for this building, so he did this, and it stays in the lobby. I did the same thing with Peter Lane, who is a ceramic artist, who made a beautiful installation. And the other lady, what’s her name [Michele Oka Doner], she’s doing all the bronze work, pieces that are going to be hardware for the doors.

 

Is it true you have Basquiats in your children’s rooms at home?

Sure, there are Basquiats. The kids chose them. The kids choose what they want to hang. I think those days are over where you tell the child, ‘Hey this is how it is. You live with a Mickey Mouse drawing poster that you bought for 12 bucks somewhere else.’ … I’m not enforcing a certain life on them. They like art, they choose. It’s their choosing what they want to live with.

 

You seem to not comment on whether your Basquiats, Warhols, Princes and Koonses are yours personally or lent by your company, RFR. Which is it? Is it the same thing?

It’s the same thing. … I have my own art collection that I buy, and then I have a whole bunch of different art that I have in the company’s name that I basically trade and sell and lend out to other buildings and other places. For me, it’s a logistic, it’s all under one umbrella.

 

You were going to build a Lord Norman Foster-designed 30-story glass tower on top of 980 Madison, the 1949 galleries building, until the Landmarks Preservation Commission made you scale back plans. How did you feel about the Upper East Side’s reaction?

A lot of people voiced their opinion in a fashion that they should have not voiced their opinion, just because of respect for people, period.