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Beguiling art gallery to finally ‘go public’ at 9 West 57th Street: source

We only print rumors — ahem, “unconfirmed reports” — when we want them to be true. And this one we very much want to be true. It involves the real estate empire founded by Sheldon H. Solow, the mega-developer who passed away in November 2020 at age 92. What we heard is in the realm of maybe, possibly, hopefully — but likely true. According to a knowledgeable source, the locked-down Solow Art & Architecture gallery at 9 W. 57th St. will finally open to the public in 2023. Not only that, but also the gallery full of masterpieces that can presently only be seen from the outside is to be expanded to include another gallery, or an extension of the existing one, on the tower’s West 58th Street side. Construction is to begin soon, we were told. The Solow Art & Architecture Foundation has long reposed behind the sidewalk-level windows of 9 West, as it’s widely known. One of the city’s most desirable office towers since it opened in 1974, it commanded sky-high rents of above $100 per square foot long before other buildings did. But the gallery’s off-limits policy has been under attack because Solow enjoyed tax breaks for having a “public” gallery that isn’t open to the public. Art lovers must peer through reflection-clouded windows to partly glimpse works by artists who have included Henri Matisse, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Francis Bacon, Henry Moore and Franz Kline. The masterpieces are or once were part of Solow’s fabled private art collection that’s valued at $500 million. One year ago, the foundation sold Sandro Botticelli’s “Young Man Holding a Rondel” — which is not known to have ever been shown in the 9 West gallery — for $92.2 million in a Sotheby’s auction. The sale through the tax-exempt foundation saved Solow nearly $33 million in capital gains taxes for the painting he bought in 1982 for $1.3 million. The gallery’s future is in the hands of Stefan Soloviev, Sheldon’s son who now controls the Solow Foundation as well as several companies under the Soloviev Group banner, which includes the family-owned firm’s various real estate arms. Soloviev, a colorful figure reputed to have as many as 20 children and an explosive temper, told the New York Times shortly after his father’s death that in the future, “the collection will be accessible to the public.” Asked where that might be — such as in a new museum, or elsewhere — he responded, “Wherever I want.” He didn’t respond to our e-mails seeking comment. **** Digital sports platform Fanatics has quietly inked a deal for more than 75,000 square feet on three floors of RFR’s 95 Morton, we’ve learned, bringing the 220,000-square-foot boutique office building to 100 percent occupied. It’s a significant expansion for the company, which currently has 50,000 square feet at 205 Hudson St. The lease is hush-hush. No one at RFR or Fanatics would comment or confirm the deal. Neither would brokers at Cushman & Wakefield who repped Fanatics or an Avison Young team for RFR. But market sources said the move will accommodate the company’s plans for creating new businesses across the sports ecosystem including licensed merchandise, trading cards and gaming. Aby Rosen’s RFR bought the century-old former factory building in the West Village for $206 million in 2017 and converted it into state-of-the-art offices. *** There will soon be life again at the notorious empty Upper East Side lot on the southwest corner of First Avenue and East 78th Street — and it won’t be rats and weeds. The corner lot at 1487 First Ave. has been sold by its longtime family owners to California-based Carmel Partners for $73.5 million, The Real Deal reported. The wood-fenced site was hated in the pricey neighborhood for its unchecked vermin infestation and for mutant weeds that grew as high as 20 feet. The Post first reported on the situation last month, when a neighborhood rally demanding action drew incoming City Council member Julie Menin and Rep. Carolyn Maloney. The lawmakers tried to persuade the former owners, three sisters in the Chou family, to turn the eyesore into a temporary community garden. They sold the lot instead, but Menin convinced the Chous to put down rat poison and chop the tree-high weeds. The new owners will likely develop a small apartment building. Meanwhile, Menin is talking to the Parks Department and the city’s Economic Development Corp. to create a public garden on a nearby vacant city-owned site in Council District 5. “We’ve found a location but it needs approvals,” she said.

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