New Film Explores Jay Maisel’s Move from Graffiti Icon 190 Bowery

Posted on: August 1st, 2019 at 5:10 am by

The Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery remains one of the most iconic on the Lower East Side. Largely due to its former life as personal mansion to photographer Jay Maisel, who had purchased the 72-room landmark in 1966 for $106,000.

Now, a new film called Jay Myself details Maisel’s lifelong residency at 190 Bowery, and his subsequent move in 2016. It premiered at the Film Forum yesterday.

Below is a synopsis:

The Bank – a six-floor, 36,000 square foot, 100-year-old landmark building – sits on the corner of the Bowery and Spring Street, for decades draped in mystery, graffiti-covered, with boarded-up windows. Inside, renowned photographer/artist Jay Maisel inhabited a thriving artist paradise since 1966. A successful commercial photographer (covers for New York Magazine, Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions, and the iconic Miles Davis Kind of Blue album), he’s also a prolific art photographer and obsessive collector of extraordinary (and ordinary) objects that have inspired him. JAY MYSELF chronicles Maisel’s monumental move out of his 72-room home following its sale, the largest private real estate deal in NYC history.

The graffiti-swabbed exterior is legendary in its own right, with an ever-changing sheath of paint. Most recently, Shepard Fairey painted a mural of actress-activist Rosario Dawson on the rooftop water tower. Unconfirmed local lore has it that the Maisel family refused to scrub the facade because the city allegedly rebuffed his attempts to do the same in the bad old days of the Bowery.

Yet to catch a glimpse of the interior was notoriously difficult, and few had seen it before a photo spread in New York Magazine.

Maisel eventually sold the 1898 jewel to developer Aby Rosen for $55 million in 2015. It’s considered the largest private real estate deal in city history. The new owner installed office space (i.e. Great Bowery), briefly offered public tours, and attempted to remove the graffiti. And Supreme is now on the ground floor while its OG Store is remodeled.

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