The real Gordon Gekko doesn’t own his New York home anymore. He rents.
Asher B. Edelman, the corporate raider-turned-art dealer, and an inspiration for the slick-haired, suspender-wearing, greed-loving Gekko from Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street, has been leasing the white, almost-Spanish-style townhouse at 134-136 East 74th Street for years.
It isn’t because he can’t afford to buy: “I’ve owned a lot in New York in the past,” explained Mr. Edelman, wearing a golf-themed tie as he sat in his 95-shelf library on Monday. “To me, it’s been very clear that the market has been over-inflated—it’s still over-inflated.”
“Gisselle!” he yelled to an assistant. “Can I have a copy of the recovery plan?” He was referring to something he wrote for Senator Barack Obama, which he said might explain why he rents a house for his family and gallery offices instead of owning. As it turned out, the document is about illiquidity and mortgages, and it was hard for this reporter to understand.
But Mr. Edelman has a more immediate concern: A new landlord. According to city records, his house sold for $12 million this month, from longtime owners to the real estate magnate Laurence Gluck.
Mr. Gluck is known for buying up lower-income apartments, even old Mitchell-Lama buildings, not uptown mansions. “I was thinking of moving some excess Section 8 people to Park and Lexington,” Mr. Gluck chuckled, referring to the technical term for subsidized low-income housing. “I’m just joking,” he added.
Actually, Mr. Edelman got a new one-year lease for “a little more” than $20,000, Mr. Gluck said. Eventually, the ex-raider and a rare-book dealer on the first floor may both have to leave. “I want to restore the building, and then I’ll take it year by year,” the landlord said. He might even move in himself.
In the meantime, his arty tenant will enjoy the old house while he’s there. “We have a lot of fun with it, we run it like a salon,” said Mr. Edelman, who, over some four-day spans, has up to 200 people over for art and dinner.
He pointed out an unplugged Dan Flavin installation in a corner by the elevator, which takes you up to the private quarters, then identified a Frank Stella on the living room wall.
“I’m not into art,” said his 9-year-old son, who likes heavy metal. When Mr. Edelman settles into his new gallery on East 63rd Street, where a Dennis Oppenheim show debuts next month, his old downstairs office in the rented house will become a music room for his son.
“I’m almost 70,” said Mr. Edelman, who once taught a Columbia M.B.A. class called “Corporate Raiding: The Art of War,” “so I go with the flow.”