Articles, Blog

A Street Artist Residency In Prime NYC Real Estate (HBO)

September 7, 2019

New Yorkers are a jaded bunch— but if you saw a massive gummy bear
on your commute, you’d want to know where it was headed. — Quick, there’s a truck coming. — Truth is, the bear and its handlers
are headed to 4 World Trade— one of the most expensive pieces
of real estate in New York City— to a studio-slash-gallery
that the artists get for free. — Could be the old Trojan horse scenario, Trojan gummy bears. — All because of this man: Larry Silverstein, the 86-year-old real estate tycoon
behind Silverstein Properties, the company that owns downtown. Silverstein famously secured a 99-year
lease for World Trade weeks before 9/11, and made it his mission to rebuild. He and his colleagues invited artists
to work on the unoccupied 69th floor. It’s not open to the public,
and it could all be going away soon. — What was the inception of this? — Artists are always looking for space. They can’t afford to pay rent. The one thing we have available, we have the space. So, my attitude was let them enjoy it. Let their work become discovered as a result of it. — The artists range from WhIsBe, the dude behind the gummy bears; Sean Sullivan, known as Layer Cake; as well as JooHee Park, aka Stickymonger. Collectively, their work is referred to as “street art”— the progeny of graffiti, fancified for galleries and commodified. — Isn’t street art kind-of
like a euphemism for graffiti, and doesn’t graffiti just mean,
like, plummeting property values? — No, it depends. Some you might look at and say, “Pure junk.” Others you might look and say, “Very distinguished.” — The deal was that, since last summer, the artists would come in, put up their work for free, and pay for everything out of pocket
for a memorial exhibition. The space has since been leased by
Swedish music-streaming service Spotify. — Do you think the art helped
to sell Spotify on the space? — I think it certainly didn’t hurt. — Spotify will lease the top 14 floors, which creates a conundrum for the artists: Do you let an $8 billion company
keep your work for free? Especially when you consider
the case of artist David Choe, who painted the walls of Facebook
and was paid in shares— and made $200 million at the IPO. WhIsBe is unruffled about the transaction. — It would’ve been naive of me to think that
the space would’ve never been leased out, because it’s New York and real estate is so absurdly… — It’s literally number 4 World Trade. — Yeah, it’s number 4 World Trade. Like, this square foot is probably, like,
a good $1,000 or $2,000 just to stand on. So, artists are the worst businessmen,
and businessmen are the worse artists. If there was anything that I wanted
to get compensated for ahead of time, I would’ve set those parameters up. Otherwise, it’s kind-of shame on me. — WhIsBe will wheel his
$40,000 bears out of the building, but his murals will stay. This isn’t the first time Silverstein has hosted artists, and some of them are used to being shuffled around. Marcus Robinson, a painter
and BAFTA-winning filmmaker, has his studio on the 66th floor of World Trade 4. He was in Tower 7, and will soon move to Tower 3. — Are you gonna miss this space
once the tenants move in? — Yeah, of course I’ll miss it. But part of the nature of this whole project
is continually moving with the changes. — And while Larry Silverstein might be cool with artists squatting in his multi-billion-dollar turrets, he is, after, all a business man. And any artist who feels ownership about
the work they apply to borrowed space can learn a valuable lesson. — How much would it cost to have a studio
on the 69th floor or the 66th floor? — They couldn’t possibly afford it. — That’s a confident response. — It’s beyond the realm of rationality for
them to contemplate paying rent here. It wouldn’t work for them.


  • Reply VICE News July 20, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    This year, some of NYC's top street artists were invited by New York businessman Larry Silverstein to create huge canvases and sculptures on the 69th floor of 4 World Trade Center, one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in New York City. The artists aren't paid and don't get to keep or sell their work– it's also closed to the public. They do it because it offers them a free blank canvas.

    VICE News gets a look at the private space, and meets Silverstein and some of the artists to better understand the unconventional relationship between artists and real estate mogul.

  • Reply Ufstermonster111 Kocker1 July 20, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Vice, do a video on how Germany and rest of Europe is struggling with the islamic refugees both culturally and economically. Thanks

  • Reply Uniblonder July 20, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    "Art" What a sad joke.

  • Reply Killacamfoo O.G. July 20, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Modern art is shit.

  • Reply Alister Wagner July 20, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Thats dope

  • Reply Thomas Rainbow July 20, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    "Famously secured a 99 year lease?" More like, "suspiciously secured a 99 year lease"!

  • Reply Tom Ollie July 20, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    rich people can't get enough money, but in the end its really about power over people

  • Reply Sam July 20, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    He's doing this from all the extra money he got from his 9/11 insurance scam !

  • Reply Parasite Museum July 20, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    ugh choke me with a fucking spoon i can't believe that people eat up this watered down poppy shit-art its quite sad

  • Reply Luke Lewis July 20, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Larry Silverstein acquired an insurance policy two weeks before the towers fell which specifically covered any incidents in which a plane would strike the wtc. He was paid out 12 billion dollars by the end of 2008 by various insurance companies which were resistant to his scheme, but eventually conceded.

  • Reply Bogmire777 July 20, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Hang all street "artists"

  • Reply Reality Check July 20, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    How about lowering the rent instead of a PR job?

  • Reply Thiago Torres July 20, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Fucking old man has more money than i can fucken dream about. Nuts!

  • Reply G Ball July 21, 2017 at 1:44 am

    What's the name if that fat artist. I like the astronaut drawing.

  • Reply Chris Anderson July 21, 2017 at 3:53 am

    That guy is cashing out on those artists' work

  • Reply grass hopper July 21, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    This lunatic doesn't believe a word he's saying.

  • Reply Red-Blooded America July 22, 2017 at 3:36 am

    That one graffiti artist stole his look straight out of 1984's Breakin'.

  • Reply Very Private Gallery May 31, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    It's a pity it was just a space they offered. We are thinking to combine business professionals with street artists, and teach street artists some business tips so they can apply in their art.

  • Reply Joseph Human May 6, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Accept the job just to get close to Larry Silverstein so you could stab him.

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