De­vel­oper’s Non-Profit Art Gallery Kept Off Lim­its to The Pub­lic

The Jewish Voice - - NEW YORK - By Howard Wolfe

The Solow Art and Ar­chi­tec­ture Foun­da­tion is lo­cated on the ground floor of the Solow Build­ing at 9 W. 57th St and is reg­is­tered as a non-profit with a mis­sion to dis­play art to the pub­lic, how­ever the ex­hibit is never open to the pub­lic, Crain's re­ported.

Shel­don Solow has had tax ex­empt sta­tus for his art foun­da­tion since 1991 and has re­ceived fed­eral tax breaks since its in­cep­tion. As of 2015, the small mu­seum boasted an en­vi­able col­lec­tion of art­work by house­hold names in­clud­ing Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sandro Bot­ti­celli, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró and Vin­cent van Gogh, Crain's re­ported.

This and other sit­u­a­tions got the at­ten­tion of law­maker Sen­a­tor Orin Hatch (Utah- R) who in 2016 ran a re­view of tax ex­empt pri­vate ex­hi­bi­tions. His re­view con­cluded many of these pri­vate non-profit ex­hi­bi­tions wel­come up­wards of half a mil­lion vis­i­tors a year, while some are rarely avail­able to the pub­lic.

Hatch con­cluded: “These fac­tors alone are not cause for re­vok­ing tax-ex­empt sta­tus or im­pos­ing tax on self-deal­ing, but they do raise ques­tions about the na­ture of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the donor and mu­seum that per­haps merit fur­ther scru­tiny,” Hatch said. “De­spite the good work that is be­ing done by many pri­vate mu­se­ums, I re­main con­cerned that this area of our tax code is ripe for ex­ploita­tion.”

Solow be­gan us­ing a work by Span­ish artist Joan Miró as a sell­ing point for 685 First Ave, rental and condo build­ing near­ing com­ple­tion be­tween East 39th and East 40th streets. If this work was pur­chased by Solow per­son­ally and then do­nated to his art foun­da­tion, at least part of its value could have been de­ducted from the de­vel­oper's fed­eral in­come taxes, Crain's ex­plained. As of 2009 the Miró had a fair mar­ket value of $54 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the ear­li­est pub­lic dis­clo­sure forms avail­able. Five years later, the most re­cent form to men­tion the trip­tych in­di­cated it had a fair mar­ket value of $40 mil­lion.

The build­ing on 1st Ave is com­prised of a mix of ren­tals and con­dos that are sep­a­rated by a ter­race lo­cated just above the 27th floor; the lower por­tion of the build­ing will con­tain 408 ren­tals, and the up­per sec­tion will con­tain 148 con­dos, the Jewish Voice re­ported ear­lier this year.

Shel­don Solow is a vet­eran Man­hat­tan real es­tate de­vel­oper, and the CEO of Solow Re­alty & De­vel­op­ment and an af­fil­i­ated com­pany, Solow Man­age­ment, the Real Deal re­ported. Forbes es­ti­mates his net worth at $3.6 bil­lion. He be­gan his real es­tate ca­reer in the early 1970's. He also owns a port­fo­lio of East Side rental tow­ers and is known for be­ing reclu­sive.

A ren­der­ing of the 685 1st Ave project, where a Joan Miró paint­ing has been used as a sell­ing point

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