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.

Recent Stories

The Ten-Story Development Now Atop the East Village’s Last Gas Station

It was the neighborhood’s last gas station to shutter. Now, it’s a ten-story luxury development. Foundation was first poured for 11 Avenue C way back in December 2016. The timeline upon its conception two years earlier was a fourteen-month construction period. As of this week, the superstructure is pretty much topped out. Rotwein + Blake […]

Eldridge Street’s Formosa Cafe Folds

Casual Taiwanese establishment, Formosa Cafe, is finished. The Eldridge Street hangout hung it up earlier this month. Token tombstone signage now hangs from the cartoony marquee. The Lower East Side location is survived by an outpost in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Formosa debuted at 34 Eldridge back in May 2015. It was a large, accommodating space […]

Bones Discovered at MTA Construction Site on Forsyth Street are Not Human

Yesterday morning, construction workers on Forsyth Street unearthed bones. A subsequent investigation determined that the remains were not human. As we’ve been reporting, the MTA is currently replacing the subway ventilation plant fifteen beneath the roadbed. Already in the works for three years, installation of this new Emergency Ventilation Plant isn’t slated to conclude until […]

Century-Old LaGuardia Bathhouse is Almost Gone [PHOTOS]

It sat vacant for four decades. Now, the long-abandoned LaGuardia Bathhouse is finished. A nub of its former self. Since our last checkup one month ago, the 1909 structure has lost most of its body. Removed brick by brick by men in cherry pickers. The mural on its western exposure – a depiction of Puerto […]

Dormant Red Mango on Allen Street Finally Gets a New Tenant

Red Mango closed its Lower East Side location on Allen Street four years ago. The space remained a dusty dormancy for the duration. Until this month; and henceforth, something completely unexpected. An interior decorator called APex New York that specializes in kitchen and bathroom fixtures. To be honest, this type of commercial occupant is not […]