The other night at the opening of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s photo exhibition, “Merce My Way,” at 401 Projects on West Street, we were ruminating on the rapidly changing schneigborhood with gallery owner Mark Seliger. “You just blink and there’s a new building up,” said Seliger, adding that he is often asked to sell his building, just south of the Richard Meier condos. He wasn’t entirely sold on Julian Schnabel’s nearby Palazzo Chupi, he admitted, at least not until he went inside. “It’s amazing,” he declared. “It’s growing on me, definitely growing on me.” Another local, Michael Angelo, proprietor of supermodel-central salon Wonderland on West 13th Street, chimed in. “I think that everybody had a little heart attack at first,” he said of the pink palazzo.
Seliger recently photographed the entire Schnabel family for a L’Uomo Vogue spread. Papa Schnab, he said, had insisted on wearing his own clothing. “You can count on him wearing pajamas, that’s for sure,” he said.
And then, as if he were a rotund, benevolent Beetlejuice, at the sound of his name, Schnabel appeared.
He was puffing a cigarette outside in the downstairs grotto. So, we said, had he ever discussed his pink palazzo with his neighbors? He looked at us askance. “No. I never talk to them about it,” he said, puffing on a cigarette.“ Right, we said nervously. Why would he? “But it’s not really pink, that color,” he explained. “It’s a lot of different colors. It’s not really one color.” We asked about the L’Uomo Vogue shoot. The clothes were indeed his own, he said, although he made some concessions. “They wanted me to wear this fur coat. I said, ‘I’ll wear it if we can wear our surfing trunks.’ Which we did, Vito and I.” Trunks with a fur coat? “It seemed only right,” Schnabel said. We nodded mutely. He held up his cigarette. “I’m going to put this out,” he said. “I don’t smoke anymore.” —Bennett Marcus