Warhol’s Latest Creation
Reading the agreement that the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc., reached with the State Attorney General’s office last November is like encountering one of those dead cows occasionally found by farmers out West, surgically drained of all its blood and offering no clue as to how the poor beast got that way.
In contrast to the allegations made by some in the art world, especially the former attorney for the Warhol estate, Edward Hayes, that the foundation had mismanaged the tens of millions of dollars of art and other assets left behind by the Pop artist, the agreement, which was achieved not by Chupacabra but by lawyers, after an investigation that lasted four years by one account, reads like a set of boilerplate expense-account guidelines. (“Airline tickets should be purchased as far in advance as practical to take advantage of discounts …”) Nevertheless, the agreement requires the foundation to hire a chief financial officer and set up an audit committee to review expenses.
The foundation is charged with cataloguing, selling and, by state law, giving away annually 5 percent of the art and other assets Warhol left to the foundation upon his death. (The actual value of Warhol’s art has been a subject of much dispute and litigation. Last year, the foundation valued it at $81 million; a decision by the State Supreme Court in 1994 put it at $400 million.) In the months before the agreement was signed, communications between the Warhol Foundation and the Attorney General’s office were not always so even-tempered, as is indicated by a number of letters and documents obtained by The Transom. The papers suggest that the Warhol foundation’s attorney, Thomas Schwarz, was, at times as aggressive with Mr. Vacco’s office as the Attorney General’s office was with the foundation.
Take the May 18, 1998, letter that Mr. Schwarz sent to Matthew Sansverie, the assistant attorney general in charge of the office’s charities bureau, shortly after the foundation was served with a subpoena requesting a number of records related to its bookkeeping.
“It is obvious that what we are involved in is not an investigation run by the Charities Bureau for its legitimate purpose of overseeing charitable institutions, but rather the use of government powers to serve an ulterior purpose,” Mr. Schwarz wrote. “We believe this investigation stems from a continued effort by the Attorney General’s office to pressure our client, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts … to drop its claims against its former lawyer Edward W. Hayes.” Mr. Schwarz was referring to the foundation’s legal battle with Mr. Hayes over his fee for services rendered as lawyer to the Warhol estate. Although New York County Surrogate Eve Preminger initially ruled that the foundation owed Mr. Hayes an additional $2.35 million, the State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division ruled that, to the contrary, Mr. Hayes owed the foundation $1.35 million. Mr. Hayes has since filed for bankruptcy protection. Mr. Hayes’ bankruptcy is still pending.
In his letter, Mr. Schwarz noted a number of occurrences, which, he alleged, backed up his claim that the Attorney General was proffering a quid pro quo. He gave his account of a June 1, 1995, meeting at the offices of the Attorney General, at which Lucia Valenti, who worked in the Attorney General’s office, was present. A few months earlier, Surrogate Preminger had ruled that the foundation owed Mr. Hayes money. During the meeting, Mr. Schwarz wrote, “The foundation representatives were astonished and dismayed to hear Ms. Valenti propose quite openly that if the foundation would not pursue its appeal but instead abide by the Surrogate’s decision to pay Mr. Hayes, the Attorney General’s office would be prepared to drop its inquiry into the foundation’s affairs.” (Ms. Valenti, who no longer works at the Attorney General’s office, could not be reached for comment.)
Mr. Schwarz closed his letter by noting, “We are producing herewith the information requested by your subpoena, much of which you already have or has been made available to you. After four years of investigation during which the foundation has answered all of your questions and supplied a ream of materials, we are still prepared to deal with the matter on the merits.”
On June 24, Mr. Sansverie wrote a letter to Mr. Schwarz offering what he termed a “counterproposal” to some settlement terms that Mr. Schwarz had apparently made. (That alleged letter containing those terms is not in The Transom’s possession.) Mr. Sansverie proposed that the foundation hire a chief financial officer and that its president, Archibald Gillies “would be relieved of all duties regarding expenditures, finances and audit.” He also suggested that Mr. Gillies would continue to serve on the foundation’s board, but “only as member ex-officio [italics theirs]. In addition, we propose that the board seat left open by such reorganization would be filled by Richard J. Schwartz (résumé attached). Mr. Schwartz would also be a member of the proposed audit committee,” as well a new committee that would be formed called the “Development Committee” which would develop “a comprehensive policy for the exhibition of Warhol’s artwork.”
Mr. Schwartz is the same Richard J. Schwartz, financier and G.O.P. donor (he has contributed more than $71,000 to Republican candidates and causes in the last four years) whom Gov. George Pataki appointed chairman of the New York State Council of the Arts in January. Given Mr. Schwartz’s generosity, the move could have been perceived as an act of patronage on the part of the Pataki administration, although Mr. Schwarz did not use the P-word when he responded to Mr. Sansverie on July 8.
After noting that “there would be no reason for a decrease in [Mr. Gillies’] salary,” Mr. Schwarz took up the issue of Mr. Schwartz. “While it is not appropriate to allow the Attorney General to place Mr. Richard Schwartz on the board, we would consider his name for the nominating committee process.”
Contacted by phone by The Transom, Mr. Schwarz declined to elaborate on his letter except to say that he didn’t think that “the Attorney General should be putting people on foundation boards.” Still, Mr. Schwarz said he did not view Mr. Sansverie’s suggestion as an act of patronage by the Pataki administration. He added, “As far as I’m concerned, the whole matter is over.”
Mr. Schwartz, on the other hand, told The Transom that he has “declined” any opportunity to take a seat on the Warhol Foundation board. Asked how he became a candidate, he replied, “Arch Gillies is a good friend of mine.”
Juanita Scarlett, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office, said Mr. Sansverie was not available to comment. She declined to comment on the case except to say that the current Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, who narrowly defeated Mr. Vacco, was “currently being briefed on the all previous agreements” and will make a decision on whether any bear further investigation.
Informed of Mr. Schwarz’s May 18 letter to Mr. Sansverie, Mr. Hayes called Mr. Schwarz’s allegations “an awful big stretch” (although Mr. Hayes did act as the agent in Governor Pataki’s book deal). Mr. Hayes further opined: “They attack me because they were trying to divert the public and law enforcement agencies from a massive fraud committed by this institutution under the direction of Gillies and Schwarz for many years.”
Mr. Schwarz called Mr. Hayes’ comments “slanderous” and replied “If he wants to carry this on, fine. [But] it’s reached a point where the I.R.S. has looked at this, the Attorney General’s office has looked at this. Nobody has found any wrongdoing.”
“You do know this is a book party don’t you?” inquired one raven-haired member of the DKNY Jeans army of publicists early on during the Jan. 29 party for Glamour executive fashion editor Suzanne Yalof’s survival book for the freshly dumped woman, Getting Over John Doe: A Story of Love, Heartache, and Surviving With Style . Valid question; it looked more like the launch of a perfume line.
First, there was the matter of the crowd: Standing near the entrance of the Chelsea loft space were the engaged-to-be-married DKNY models Mark Vanderloo and Esther Canandas, scowling and smoking toward extinction. Then there was the presence of earpiece-wearing security men, who skulked around in three-piece suits as Glamour editor in chief Bonnie Fuller chased after her three kids. Meanwhile an army of skinny young fashionistas made googly eyes at junior investment bankers. A Tri Delt cute factor prevailed: The buff bartenders were outfitted in DKNY shirts embossed with boyfriend idiosyncrasies like “lives with Mommy,” and “drops his g’s.” Waiters served food for the dumped, such as Oreos in silver bowls and ice cream sandwiches. Sherrie Krantz, director of public relations for DKNY Jeans and the mastermind behind the party, enthused, “We would never do a typical book party, at least not while I’m here, goddamn it.”
The house music stopped at 10 P.M. and the 31-year-old Ms. Yalof, in a borrowed black strapless cashmere DKNY dress, climbed onto the stage, to announce that actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Hope Davis, and comedienne Beth Littleford, would be reading momentarily from Ms. Yalof’s book. “Could you guys, please, please , quiet down!” pleaded Ms. Yalof. She didn’t seem happy. “Um, book party? Point … of … party,” she droned into the microphone, which did little to quiet the crowd.
The starlets plowed gamely through their readings. Ms. Yalof’s book recounts how a boyfriend named Mike, whom she had thought was “the one,” dumped her on a ski lift at Stowe, Vt., on Valentine’s Day. The diminutive Ms. Parker, wrapped in a white shawl, finished her portion of the reading by sighing, looking at the crowd and letting out an exasperated, “Whatever.”
Afterward, Ms. Parker said, “I have a very short history of relationships, but I’ve been dumped really hard before. Any sort of rejection is really traumatic. I get sick to my stomach.” She mentioned that she was carrying a Nicoderm patch in her pocketbook.
“I’ve been a victim of the fade-away process,” said VH1 personality Madison Michelle. “The fade-away process is when the guy doesn’t out-and-out dump you. His phone calls just go from six times a day, to two, then to nothing. One day, you wake up and realize you’re not dating anymore. It all sort of happens under your nose.”
Ms. Yalof’s book was born of two broken hearts: William Morrow and Company editor Doris Cooper said the proposal, which a number of other publishers had passed on, “came to me right after I had broken up with the man I was going to marry.” Ms. Cooper looked around. “This party is in honor of Mike. This is Mike’s final kick in the ass! ”
Later, a tanned Shoshanna Lonstein and a slouchy Duncan Sheik took the stage and presided over a lengthy blind dating contest of sorts. Ms. Lonstein picked guests’ names from a hat box, then foisted the lucky couples with cellophane-wrapped bottles of Piper-Heidsieck and instructions to go on a blind date at Balthazar, Nobu, Veruka and Moomba. Molly Laub, an old friend of Ms. Yalof’s who said she dresses celebrities for Giorgio Armani, said she had not put her name in the hat box. “No fucking way,” she said. “I just don’t do blind dates.”
The irony of the evening? It turns out that “Mike” wasn’t even such hot stuff. “He was by no means special,” said Ms. Yalof. “He was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
According to Ms. Yalof, Mike knew about the party, but didn’t attend. “Of all the breakups in New York,” Mike told a friend of Ms. Yalof’s, “why was mine the one that had to become a book?”
Ms. Yalof added that she had indeed since found Mr. Right, a fellow named Marc Schwartz, who she has been dating for a year. “We signed a contract on a bar napkin that I wouldn’t write a book about him,” she said.
Good luck, fella.
The Transom Also Hears
… The recent spate of press photographs showing Monica Lewinsky in a baseball cap bearing the logo to the New York-based film production studio, the Shooting Gallery, has been a windfall for the company’s merchandising line, but it’s also caused a lot of buzzing within the company. Shooting Gallery insiders are speculating whether Ms. Lewinsky has been wearing the cap to send a message to the company’s general counsel, Jonathan Marshall. According to Ms. Lewinsky’s spokesman, Judy Smith, Ms. Lewinsky is just friends with Mr. Marshall. But those insiders contend that she may have developed a bit of a crush on Mr. Marshall and is wearing the cap to send a message of solidarity, much as President Clinton’s wearing of Ms. Lewinsky’s gift of a Zegna tie was interpreted to be a sign of solidarity with her. Ms. Smith said this was “incorrect,” and declined to elaborate further. Mr. Marshall did not return calls.
… Hank Metzger was hardly a marquee name when Michael Ovitz hired him as one of the new recruits for his Artists Management Group. Prior to his Big-League Break, he had toiled as an agent of television writers and comedians at the Paradigm Agency. Now Mr. Metzger enjoys the profile-lifting distinction of being the first casualty of Mr. Ovitz’s newly formed talent management organization, which represents such Hollywood hotshots as Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. According to sources familiar with the situation, Mr. Metzger, who is a whole 28 years old, angered management by, for example, bringing aboard an unpaid, unapproved intern to be his assistant–a security risk in the land of high-security Hollywood. Also, Mr. Metzger, who had been brought on board to “service” A.M.G.’s existing stable–a job that essentially entails canvassing the studios to find available roles and movies that might be appropriate for clients–apparently also had to be informed that signing new talent was not part of his job description. A.M.G. officials did not return calls, but a source within the company said that while Mr. Metzger “doesn’t have a job at the moment, he is still an employee of the company.” The source explained that the company is waiting to “transition” Mr. Metzger into its television division, which has yet to come together. Someone should tell Mr. Metzger. He told The Transom that he and A.M.G “parted ways amicably.” He added that “Michael Ovitz is a great person.”