25 June 2007

Wha? Gotham Book Mark NOT Dead?

The Village Voice has published a tantalizing, sadistic (to us book lovers, anyway) story which seems to purport that the Gotham Book Mark has not rolled over for the last time.

"Something's cooking," one former employee told the Voice. Another talked of "important things happening." Lost City would love to believe that, but after reading the sad, depressing article in its entirety—a tragic tale of carelessness and crippling cluelessness on the Mart's owners sake—it's hard to hope that the genius used-book store will ever again rise from the dead, at least in as run by former owner Andreas Brown.

I still find the behavior of Brown's "friends," developer Edmondo Schwartz and former Estée Lauder chief executive Leonard Lauder, as damning as ever. Under the guise of saving their struggling friend and fellow book maven, Brown, they moved Gotham from its longtime home on Diamond Row to E. 46th Street, in a townhouse they owned. But instead of handing Brown the building as a gift (which would have marked them as true philanthropists), they charged Brown market rent and then got all legal about it when he didn't pay.

That said, Brown seems to have been a dreamy idealist with his head truly stuck in books; the kind of person who drives hard-headed businessmen like Schwartz and Lauder mad. He didn't know how to operate a cash register. He declines to sell valuable books, because he loved having them around more. Death was pounding at the door, but he was listening to WNYC cranked up to 10.

It was only a matter of time before the moneymen turned on him and the Mart. And turn they did. The book store's rare holding were sold at a Marshall's auction. It was a rushed affair, and one only gained entrance by paying a $1,000 refundable deposit. The lots were not itemized. Nobody had a chance to look at anything. In the end the goods fetched $400,000. The winning bidder? The landlord's lawyer, John (ahem) Faust. His was the first bid uttered. None managed to surpass him.

Makes you wonder if the Brown's rich friends moved him to a new home (a building they now plan to sell) as part of an elaborate plan to claim his trove of rare books for their own. Scheme of not, that's how it turned out, isn't it?

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