I recently mentioned that it would be nice to be able to buy a five-storey building in Soho (New York) for $70,000. Yes, that was in 1968 dollars. But even in today’s dollars, we’re talking less than $600,000. I would gladly buy a cast-iron five-storey building in Soho for that price today if it were somehow possible.
In response to this post, a reader sent me this (thank you), which is another great example of an artist buying an old buying in New York for what is clearly an absurdly low price. The artist is photographer Jay Maisel, and the building is The Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery.
Jay bought the six-storey building in 1966 for $102,000. He then used it as his residence, a studio, and as a place to collect a hell of a lot of things. Though at one point he also rented out some of the other floors to artists like Roy Lichtenstein.
It is alleged that most people thought the building was abandoned. But this was obviously not the case. Jay sold the building to RFR Holdings in 2014 for $55 million. And in 2019, streetwear brand Supreme opened up in the bottom.
Today, I understand that Web3 things are also happening in the building. And who knows, it might be the case that we’ll be reading about some of them, in a similar kind of way, fifty years from now.