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Rogues' Gallery The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money that Made the Metropolitan Museum Hardcover – May 5, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
For more than a century, the coupling of art with commerce has made New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art the world's most glamorous whore, according to this sprawling history. Gross, a veteran chronicler of the rich and beautiful (Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women), highlights the relationship between the directors and curators who amassed the Met's collection—fakes and questionably acquired antiquities included, he notes—and its patrons. In his telling, the exchange of money for prestige (contributor John D. Rockefeller wanted good publicity after striking workers were massacred at the family's Ludlow mine) is a tawdry business, with the museum's high-toned seduction of well-heeled egotists, who in turn felt betrayed when newer collections impinged on their own galleries. Not the best-curated of exhibitions, Gross's thematically unfocused chronicle is overstuffed with the details of fund drives, building plans and bequests; some figures feel like they were profiled mainly because there were juicy anecdotes about them—a rarity in tight-lipped Met circles—not because their doings are especially illuminating. Still, browse long enough and you'll find behind-the-scenes dirt and an intriguing look at the symbiosis of culture and cash. (May 12)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Praise for Rogues' Gallery
“Gross demonstrates he knows his stuff. It's a terrific tale, with all the elements of a gossipy, color-rich, fact-packed Vanity Fair-style takedown.” –Maria Puente, USA Today
“Provocative.” –Reid Pillifant, New York Observer
“Any and all facts that I knew of personally, the author gets absolutely right, which makes me trust much else in the book–and there's a great deal else, indeed an entire history of the museum beginning from its gradual birth in the 1870s, told as a kind of extended gossip dish, a dense and exhaustively factual one, about the powerful egos that drove it into prominence and kept it there. I am not particularly sympathetic to any view of the world as a gossipy chronicle. I didn't expect to like the book's tone, but I found a good 100 pages had gone by before I could even put it down. . . . The book is important, and what's more, splendidly readable.” –Melik Kaylan, Forbes.com
"Highly entertaining." –Manuela Hoelterhoff, Bloomberg
"Gross’ s coup is not only in the vast amounts of information he has obtained but also in his ability to tell a story about the rich and powerful people of New York nearly effortlessly and without disdain." –Jillian Steinhauer, ArtInfo.com
". . . a pageturner that unravels like an elite whodunit, and is reaping encomiums from advance readers. Destined to be the talk of art circles in the U.S. and abroad. . . . Not only by art connoisseurs but by culturati hungry for a captivating, tattle-tale yarn, Rogues’ Gallery will spark a furor." –George Christy, The Beverly Hills Courier
"Gross relishes every nefarious or audacious episode as he marches through the museum’s fascinating history of curatorial excellence, social climbing, and skulduggery. It’ s a tale of elitists versus populists, of spectacular gifts and scandals, trustees refusing to consider art made by living artists and formidable innovators, especially Robert Moses and Thomas Hoving. Whether he is portraying the museum’s first director, the scoundrel Luigi Palma di Cesnola, John D. Rockefeller (the museum’s “greatest benefactor”), curator Henry Geldzahler, Diana Vreeland of the Costume Institute, or, in the most sordid chapter, vice chairman Annette de la Renta, Gross zestfully mixes factual reportage with piquantly entertaining anecdotes." –Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Gross is a good reporter, ever-digging, fanatical about details and without cooperation from the Met, he has produced a fascinating history of the museum, its place in the world, its place in the New York social firmament and its ups, downs, ins, outs, plus the trajectories of its various directors. . . . a fabulous, realistic, well-researched book " –Liz Smith
"Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money that Made the Metropolitan Museum, has all of New York talking." –Style.com
". . . a must-read." –Rush & Molloy, New York Daily News
". . . destined to be a must-read amongst the cognescenti, not to mention the art world." –David Patrick Columbia, New York Social Diary
“Michael Gross hangs the eccentric and dazzlingly rich characters behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” –Vanity Fair
“Sharp and well-constructed, the readers will marvel at how the institution transcended the bickering and backhanded power plays to become one of the largest and most prestigious museums in the world. A deft rendering of the down-and-dirty politics of the art world.” –Kirkus Reviews
“For more than a century, the coupling of art with commerce has made New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art the world’s most glamorous whore, according to this sprawling history. . . . Behind-the-scenes dirt and an intriguing look at the symbiosis of culture and cash.” –Publishers Weekly
“Michael Gross has proven once again that he is a premier chronicler of the rich. Rogues’ Gallery is an insightful, entertaining look at a great institution—with all its flaws and all its greatness.” —Gay Talese, author of A Writer’s Life
“The title alone tantalizes but once you pick up this book and start reading about the good and the great and the hijinks of high society, it becomes un-put-downable!!!” —Kitty Kelley, author of The Family: The Real Story of The Bush Dynasty
Praise for 740 Park
“Tantalizing, intimate, engrossing, intriguing. A deeply researched book that deserves a prominent place among the social histories of 20th-century Manhattan.” —Washington Post
“One building as [a] microcosm of life on a silver platter. The voyeurism is so giddy that 740 Park sometimes feels like an extended feat of free-association. . . . Outside the work of Edith Wharton or Jane Austen, it’s rare to find such brazen speculation about exactly what people are worth. Changing demographic and economic realities have made 740 Park a mirror of its times.” —Janet Maslin, New York Times
“[A] great read . . . gossipy . . . revealing.” —People
“This is social history at its finest.” —Dominick Dunne
“740 Park is the home of some of the world’s wealthiest people. Gross takes readers inside its doorman-protected walls, exposing the shocking and sometimes tragic secrets the building has been guarding for nearly a century.” —Star
“It took a reporter and storyteller like Michael Gross to lay out the epic tale—truly, the story of American capitalism and 20th-century New York society—that is 740 Park Ave. . . . This is the kind of heady terrain Gross knows well.” —Hartford Courant
Top customer reviews
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The details and stories are so rich. I can't imagine how long it took to research this book. Having just finished reading it last night I am dying to take a trip to NYC now.
Now, the Kindle version is very disappointing. There are countless typos and information left out. A painting sold for "%&@"... what does that mean?? How much did it sell for? Or someone is worth "si^*%^^" million dollars. Huh? Or a name will appear as characters I can't even find here on my keyboard. Or the new wing cost "-*^^" million dollars. It was incredibly frustrating.
There is a lot of information in this book. It was clearly well researched and carefully written. There were some formatting errors, but I have since received a new version from Amazon and it looks like those issues have been resolved.
Granted, there are some moments in the book with a lot of facts and it can get dry. But overwhelmingly, I was fascinated. I found myself wondering how the museum would have been different if it hadn't been so staunchly resistant to "modern art". Walking through the museum, I see names that I've read about which brings trips to the museum to a whole new experience.
Anyone that loves the art at the Met should definitely get this book to learn more about how the museum came into existence.