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How Would Thelma Golden Spend $84,727.50?

The chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem plays with the recent auction price (plus tax) of an untitled piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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I resist the temptation to curate my apartment. I can’t live with art: I’d spend too much time tweaking it. I’m constantly making exhibitions in my head. What I would buy is a fabulous sheared mink J. Mendel coat ($19,500) to make the New York winter bearable, and an Eric Gaskins evening dress ($2,500). Then I’d get a year’s worth of weekly manicures and pedicures at Buff Spa at Bergdorf ($4,576) and a year’s worth of monthly Ginger Rubs at Bliss ($2,640). At Exhale, I’d get twelve four-handed sessions of Body Enlightening, which is like lazy Thai yoga plus a massage ($2,520). Every morning I get up at 5:30 and do 40 minutes of Power Yoga with Rodney Yee’s DVD—I love his whole Zen persona. So I’d get Rodney in person ($696, weekend workshop).


People call and I feel like I have to be an evangelist for artists of African descent around the world, so I’m constantly traveling. I’d love a full set of T. Anthony luggage in red ($4,395). Every piece has to have wheels because I can’t carry anything. I have an iPod for the plane, but I want to curate it. I want some orthodoxy. I’d buy one iPod Mini in every color ($1,245 for five) and load each differently. One might be all hip-hop; another might be women singers. Then I’d need a new iMac G5 with all the bells and whistles ($5,428.80).

For my Park Slope apartment, I need the clear Philippe Starck Ero/S/ chair ($549). I just built 23 running feet of bookcases, so I want the limited-edition Tom Ford book ($350). I don’t go to the movies, but I’d get Alvin Ailey tickets for the season ($1,800). I’ve gone every December since I was little.


I’m a big Whole Foods fan. I go to both locations, even though neither are near me. Everything is fabulous. Their Meyer lemons are not just lemons—they’re Über-lemons ($2.98 a pound). I’d buy a Mini Cooper ($17,920) to carry my groceries home. Then I’d drive to Target for Karim Rashid’s dish soap ($2.99).


Since it’s almost Christmas, I’d take my parents to see Bobby Short at the Carlyle ($285). I’d spend some money on my artist friends. For Glenn Ligon, a Jasper Morrison coffeemaker ($150). Lorna Simpson gets a Prada coat with fur collar ($3,000), and Gary Simmons two floor seats for the Knicks ($3,810.75). My staff wants the Michael Jackson boxed set ($59.98), and my twenty dearest friends get a Studio Museum membership ($1,000). With the rest, I’d throw a holiday party at 5 Ninth ($2,621) and then get a suite at the Mercer for the week to recuperate ($9,600). Oh, and a MoMA membership so I don’t have to stand on line ($75).

Reality Check
What I Really Spent Today
Breakfast protein shake at Mangia ($3.50)

“Hush” by LL Cool J from iTunes (99 cents)

Plane ticket to Los Angeles ($323.94)

Chicken and waffles, plus red velvet cake for my staff at Amy Ruth’s ($54.56)

Dinner for four at 5 Ninth ($450.00)

Taxi home ($21)

Total $853.99


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