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Gehry Does the Math

No doubt feeling some remorse about slapping CultureGrrl around (she can take it), Anthony Calnek of the Guggenheim made a friendly phone call yesterday evening to say that AP’s cost figures for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi came from none other than Frank Gehry, the architect for the proposed 322,920-square-foot museum.
Still, Calnek says the numbers are wrong: Gehry was just applying a multiplier to the per-square-foot cost in Bilbao, when questioned by a reporter at the Abu Dhabi press briefing.
Calnek had at first e-mailed me that he had seen the confidential construction cost estimates, and the reported $200 million was incorrect. Later, on the phone, he asserted that there can’t even be a cost estimate, because the building hasn’t been designed yet. Go figure.
In any event, although both sides have agreed to a memorandum of understanding for the project, an actual contract has yet to be signed. And what happens in Abu Dhabi stays in Abu Dhabi: The financials of the project “never have to be made public,” Calnek said. Whatever the cost, none will be paid by the Guggenheim, which, if the deal happens, will get an undisclosed fee for its expertise and its “brand.”

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