1 In New York’s latest cover story, Olivia Nuzzi asked whether “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg is a plausible candidate for 2020 (“Wonder Boy,” April 15–28). The Daily Beast’s Scott Bixby wrote, “@Olivianuzzi’s new cover story — in which Buttigieg admits that ‘I haven’t won anything other than a few media cycles’ — is a must-read.” Some readers questioned his preparedness for the presidency, with Amy Siskind suggesting, “He could run for governor of Indiana in 2020. He might actually be qualified for that.” @MartinCassien tweeted, “I was in South Bend recently. With the exception of a wealthy university, it is a depressed city and has been for as long as I can remember. I’m having trouble understanding the appeal of this candidate.” The New York Post’s Maureen Callahan pointed to the story as emblematic of the media’s infatuation with the 37-year-old: “New York magazine put Mayor Pete on their most recent cover … smiling beatifically and looking off in the distance, even as the piece itself strains, at times, to justify his run.” But Mayor Pete seems to have won some high-profile fans; celebrity blogger Perez Hilton chimed in, “Hope is back!! Great profile in New York magazine.” Jake Lahut added, “I’m probably the millionth person to heap praise on this … but it has so many great structural choices and images that fit well together. It unpacks what having ‘a moment’ really means, and more.”
2 Matthew Shaer traced the origins of a contested Leonardo da Vinci that was purchased at auction for $1,000 and later sold for $450 million (“The Invention of the Salvator Mundi,” April 15–28). Several art-world professionals and historians shared their perspectives. Anne Luther, a researcher at TU Berlin and the New School whose work examines the contemporary art market, wrote, “Shaer meticulously re-creates the American Dream rags-to-riches narrative (from ‘wrapped in trash bag’ to ‘custom crate’), but his evidence tells us that all involved individuals are already part of a privileged elite from the very beginning of this story. Note the sheer amount of money invested over eight years in the best restorers. But all investment aside, their power is the access to institutions and individuals that can write objects into art history.” Natasha Degen, chair of art-market studies at F.I.T., commented on the forces that shape such sales: “While the Salvator Mundi is in many ways anomalous, the real reason works of art fetch such staggering prices is structural: widening global inequality. Studies have shown that art prices go up not when a society becomes wealthier but when inequality increases. Salvator Mundi’s complicated history only makes the outcome more crass and the high-end art world’s complacency in the face of such a gross expression of inequality more egregious.”
3 Andrew Rice investigated why Puerto Rico is spending $1.5 billion on consultants and lawyers when the government is already $74 billion in debt (“The McKinsey Way to Save an Island,” April 15–28). Cate Long, who leads a research service for Puerto Rico’s bondholders, wrote that the story “exposes the error of the Oversight Board in hiring a group of technocratic professionals with no experience in municipal restructuring who came in with a mandate to ‘corporatize’ government operations. Because governments operate under different rules than corporations, this is folly in the extreme. Change must be generated consensually, and McKinsey is the wrong party to do that in Puerto Rico.” Heidie Calero, the president and CEO of a San Juan–based consulting firm, responded, “Austerity measures pushed by McKinsey through the PROMESA board do not work in recessions, even more so after Hurricane Maria ravaged the entire island. Nineteen months have elapsed, and still recovery is imperceptible in housing, infrastructure, health, education, security, and above all in economic activity. Worse still, the long-term forecast by promesa consultants indicates PR will face deficits again by 2021 and negative economic growth. We need to remind these consultants, the board, and even the local government that ‘it is all about the economy, stupid.’ ” And Refinery29’s Andrea González-Ramírez, a Puerto Rico native, wrote, “Obama gave us the fiscal control board, which is making Puerto Rican taxpayers foot more than a billion dollars in consultancy fees while slapping them with austerity measures to ‘fix’ the debt crisis. But Democrats say Trump es El Cuco, the bogeyman. Liberals would not look like opportunistic hacks who only care about Puerto Rico because it’s now politically valuable if they were willing to recognize how both parties have royally screwed the island for 121 years. Upholding the colonial status is a bipartisan affair.” @renatabb added, “So 20-something Ivy Leaguers with no previous knowledge of PR (nor previous work experiences) are deciding our future. Great. What could possibly go wrong?”
*This article appears in the April 29 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!