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Lawyers Seize the Gold Ring at the Whitney-Go-Round

Who should CultureGrrl run into, gazing appreciatively at Klimt‘s “Apple Tree I” at the presale exhibition for Christie’s Nov. 8 Impressionist/modern sale, but the dean of New York City land-use attorneys, Samuel Lindenbaum. Sandy is the go-to guy for getting the necessary government approvals on just about every major museum expansion project in the city. The Whitney Museum has been no exception: He has lawyered its every iteration, from Michael Graves to Rem Koolhaas to the now endangered Renzo Piano plan.
The Whitney has not divulged how much it has squandered on legal and architectural fees for the Piano plan, although Nicolai Ouroussoff reported in the NY Times that “Max Anderson, the museum’s previous director, said the museum spent nearly $6 million in architectural, engineering and legal fees to develop the Koolhaas design. One can safely assume that it has spent far more on its collaboration with Mr. Piano (who is to be retained for whatever project it pursues, the museum says).”
Lindenbaum told me Friday that he didn’t know offhand how much his office had reaped in the latest Whitney-go-round, but “I’m sure it’s a lot. I keep saying to Leonard Lauder [the museum’s chairman]: ‘When you finally build that, I’ll lose an annuity.'” He added that the latest Piano plan was “not off the table,” although the Whitney is seriously considering expanding off site instead, at the High Line.

an ArtsJournal blog