Peek Inside This Boarded-Up NYC Mansion

The Germania Bank building in New York City is a bit of an enigma. Built in 1898, the six-story Renaissance Revival structure is now best known as the boarded up, graffiti-covered building simply called 190 Bowery. Nearly 50 years ago, photographer Jay Maisel (who is known for his shots of Marilyn Monroe, Miles Davis, and his chronicling of New York street life) bought the entire building for $102,000—a steal, to say the least, especially for 38,000 square feet of prime SoHo real estate.

It wasn’t that way when he purchased the property, though. When Maisel moved in in 1966, the neighborhood was seedy and derelict, and the building was a disaster. “Every single thing that can come out of a human body has been left on my doorstep,” Maisel told New York Magazine in 2008. “It was more disgusting than dangerous.”

Maisel began making some ad-hoc renovations to the 72 rooms and maintained the property as his private home and studio. He briefly rented out floors as studios to artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Adolph Gottlieb in the late ‘60s, and allowed the outside to become a studio of sorts to some other more enterprising artists. The façade of 190 has been called a mecca of street art, and even Keith Haring used to draw his famous “chalk babies” on the outside walls. “I never washed off any of Keith’s stuff,” Maisel said once. “Keith was the only person who did graffiti in chalk.”

Maisel quietly put 190 Bowery on the market last year, and it sold immediately for $55 million. The outside was stripped of its famous graffiti and the massive property, which was named a New York City landmark in 2005, will likely be turned into condos. But, as a one-night-only event, the building will be open to the public for an art show this Saturday featuring painters like Julian Schnabel and Harmony Korine. You'll need an RSVP, but this will likely be the only chance to see inside this mysterious real estate before it is completely remodeled.

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A Rare Copy of Audubon's Birds of America Could Break Records at Auction
Christie's
Christie's

American artist and naturalist John James Audubon published The Birds of America in the first half of the 19th century, and his massive “double-elephant” folio of life-size bird illustrations remains one of the most ambitious nature books ever produced. On June 14, a rare edition of the four-book set is hitting the auction block, and it's expected to fetch up to $12 million—more than any Audubon book ever sold.

This edition of The Birds of America was owned by the dukes of Portland from around 1839 to 2012. Because it was stored on the shelves of the family's Nottinghamshire, England estate for nearly a century, the set's prints of watercolor drawings have remained remarkably well-preserved.

In 2012, the copy was auctioned off to philanthropist and businessman Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. for nearly $8 million. Knobloch donated the books to the Knobloch Family Foundation (KFF) before his death in 2016. Now, the KFF is sending the books to auction once again. This time, all proceeds of the sale will go to nature conservation.

Set of red leather-bound books.

New York City auction house Christie's describes the set in a listing as "among the finest copies in private hands of this icon of American art, and the finest color-plate book ever produced." Each of the 435 double-elephant folio pages measures 39.5 inches by 26.5 inches, the largest sheets Audubon could get his hands on at the time, and they feature 1037 birds from 500 species. The books are bound in red Moroccan leather with gold detailing on the borders and spines. The four-volume set also comes with the Ornithological Biography, a collection of five books describing the specimens in The Birds of America and their habits.

Christie's estimates the set will sell for $8 million to $12 million when the final bid is placed later this month. To date, the most expensive copy of The Birds of America was a first edition acquired from Sotheby's in London for $11.5 million. That sale also broke the record for the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction, a record held until 2013.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American bird.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American birds.

All images courtesy of Christie's

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Courtesy of Emi Nakajima
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Artist Makes Incredibly Detailed Drawings of Famous Buildings Around the World
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

They say patience is a virtue, but for some artists it’s a necessity. Emi Nakajima’s detailed ink drawings of famous architectural sites, which recently appeared on My Modern Met, typically take about a week to complete. However, her most ambitious undertaking yet—a rendering of Thailand’s Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)—was a five-month endeavor.

Emi Nakajima holding up her drawing in front of the White Temple
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

The Japanese-Thai artist told Mental Floss that the White Temple was particularly difficult to draw. She typically uses A3-sized paper (11.7 by 16.5 inches) for her projects, but she decided to draw the ornate temple on a much larger scale. The paper covered her entire desk—and getting each arch and spiral just right was no small feat. She took her time on the details, chipping away at the drawing after returning home from her day job as an administrative officer in Thailand.

Emi Nakajima drawing
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

Details of the drawing
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

Details of the drawing
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

The completed temple drawing
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

She’s amassed nearly 39,000 followers on Instagram, where she documents the progression of her projects from start to completion. Although her prints aren’t available for purchase online, she does sell her drawings locally.

European architecture features prominently in her work, with past projects including drawings of London’s Big Ben, Barcelona’s Sagrada Família basilica, and France’s Gothic churches. She occasionally branches out from architecture, creating 3D images of food and drawings of superheroes, movie characters, and animals.

Keep scrolling down to see more of Nakajima's architectural drawings, and check out her Instagram page (@emi_nkjm) here.

A drawing of Big Ben
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

Drawing of a cathedral
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

A pagoda drawing
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

Details of a drawing
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

A cathedral drawing
Courtesy of Emi Nakajima

[h/t My Modern Met]

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