On Private Views, Luxury and Corruption

Andi Schmied interviewed by Tereza Østbø Kuldova





New York, luxury, ultra-rich, corruption


Despite the iconic nature of the Manhattan skyline, there are only four places the public can see it from and those are the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center, ONE World Trade Center and the recently opened EDGE at Hudson Yards. All other elevated views are a private privilege, only available to owners of luxury penthouses. Posing as an apartment-hunting Hungarian billionaire, Andi Schmied accessed and documented the views of over thirty of the city’s most exclusive high-rise properties. Her book, Private Views: A High-Rise Panorama of Manhattan, offers a glimpse into this elite world. Showcasing the surreal strategies of persuasion used by real estate agents, the book allows readers to bypass the gatekeepers of luxury real estate; guiding them through the sunset from Trump Tower, dawn over Central Park from the tallest residential tower on Earth, and showing samples of the most luxurious materials, such as the Siberian marble, used in soaking tubs overlooking the Statue of Liberty. The skyscrapers visited by Schmied were carefully selected due to their representation of a new type of luxury. Those selected for their architectural interest include the MOMA Expansion Tower by Jean Nouvel, Gehry Tower, Jenga Tower, and 432 Park Avenue. Among the buildings visited for political reasons were the Trump Tower or Time Warner Centre, where recently more than a dozen owners have gone to prison, after anonymously buying an apartment through shell companies. For buildings of economic interest, Schmied visited 220 Central Park South, where its penthouse duplex has been sold for a record sales price. Other buildings selected ranged from reconstructed early American skyscrapers to luxury condos (such as the Woolworth Tower Residences, or 70 Pine) and penthouse suites for sale within luxury hotels (such as the Four Seasons, or Ritz Carlton). Schmied’s project is an art and architecture project, but the outcome touches upon various professional fields, such as sociology, economy, urban studies, and anthropology.