I thought it would be a good idea to summarize the events to date. As most readers have gathered, this is a blog on which neighbors on 12th and 13th Streets surrounding the ever expanding Zwirner mansion post. It is not fair to say that we are organized. The username and password were posted in a few of the neighboring buildings, and any neighbor can post to the blog.
David Zwirner, is a well known art dealer. Monica Zwirner designs handbags for elite NY socialites. The family first turned a multiple dwelling unit into a single family mansion about 3 years ago. At that time, they blocked the light of four low-income tenants at 234 E. 13th St. without compensation. They were able to do this mostly because the light encroachment laws for this block date back to the 1800s. While it was legal, it was unethical, and they upset many of the people on the block.
Throughout the first phase of the construction, they worked beyond the legally allowed limits, working late at night and through Saturday and Sunday. The Department of Buildings didn't seem to do much to stop them. Either that, or they paid the fines.
One neighbor did bake them a pie, and he received a note from their lawyer a month later with a thank you note. They realize how much they are disliked.
Nonetheless, this year, they purchased another neighboring building, and again expanded it, blocking the light of 4 more apartments. Despite their resources, they are using immigrant labor. The poor guys are walking on 2 X 4 planks without safety harnesses or other forms of protection. Once, I heard screaming coming from the construction site. I assume someone fell, but couldn't make out what had happened.
The tenants at 228 E. 13th St. notified various representatives about the light encroachment issue, but even the elected representatives received a form letter from the Zwirner's lawyer in response. I was impressed with our representative's caring and rapid response to this issue. We hope that the laws will be changed to protect future neighbors.
Their building was condemned with a red X on the front, but somehow, they continued construction.
It is a classic move for out of touch art dealers to move into a neighborhood that used to be on the cutting edge of the art scene, but whose days have long passed. First it was SoHo, now, the East Village. The problem is that the wealthy folks moving in with their Mc Mansions don't really seem to care about the low-income populations they displace. I'm sure that the Zwirners will pack up and move to Williamsburg sometime in the next few years once they realize that it is the "hot place" (though it never was, it has thus been advertised).
The only way that David Zwirner can survive in the art world is by dealing with previously recognized top artists. If he had to go by any sense of aesthetic, he would never survive. After all, he is old German money, with no sense of reality.