Eric Schneiderman’s Legacy in Financial Cases May Survive His Downfall

As New York’s attorney general, Mr. Schneiderman used the same playbook that raised the profiles of his predecessors. Whoever fills the job next will probably do the same thing.

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Anonymous Owner, L.L.C.: Why It Has Become So Easy to Hide in the Housing Market

A way to protect property owners from personal liability has also turned out to be handy for enabling problematic behavior, like laundering money or being a bad landlord.

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Detroit Was Crumbling. Here’s How It’s Reviving.

For 36 years, Detroit has been under some sort of oversight from state and federal authorities. They watched over the city’s water department, police, transportation department – and, lately, the city’s finances after Detroit emerged from bankruptcy. On Monday afternoon, a vote is expected to end the intense watch over city spending.

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Exclusive: A $39.5 Million Penthouse at 740 Park Avenue

After serving in top executive roles at places like Merrill Lynch, John A. Thain is making another big move: He’s selling his Park Avenue penthouse.

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What I Love: Chazz Palminteri’s Bedford Tale

That Mr. Palminteri’s boyhood dream became a reality — an expansive residence with a fountain out front, a pool out back, a gym and wine cellar in the basement and a Jackson Pollock on the wall leading to the second floor — should come as a surprise to no one.

Actually, the Pollock is a remarkably good copy, a cherished housewarming gift to Mr. Palminteri and his wife, Gianna, from their friend Peter Brant, an executive producer of the movie “Pollock,” who educated them about modern art.


“My wife wanted a big courtyard and fountain,” Chazz Palminteri said of Gianna, an actor and producer he met at church in Los Angeles. Credit Rick Loomis for The New York Times

Eighteen years ago, after the Palminteris settled on the right parcel of land in Bedford (one near an easy route to New York City), “we walked through the lot to decide which trees were going to go,” recalled Ms. Palminteri, an actor and producer. “But I did not like cutting trees down. I saw all the birds and squirrels and I said, ‘We are destroying nature to build a house.’”

She added: “And Chazz was like, ‘This is good. We need the land. The squirrels can move to the next tree.’” Spoken like a true son of Belmont Avenue.

The house that displaced the resident fauna is Georgian on the outside, thanks to Mr. Palminteri, who, for the record, was very particular about the quantity of stones (more, more) and the masonry. It looks like a Tuscan villa inside, thanks to Ms. Palminteri.

“I have a very Mediterranean sense of style,” she said, nodding at the arched doorways, the walls that were faux-finished to resemble aged plaster, and the limestone and rough-hewn marble floor in the double-height foyer.

For his part, Mr. Palminteri has a very uxorious sense of style: He said “yes, dear” a lot. “But,” he added, “Gianna has good taste, so I went along with it.”

In any case, she has created a comfortable place for her husband and children (Dante, 22, and Gabriella, 16), and for the parade of friends who come by for a drink or a meal. They sit on the Directoire chairs that ring the walnut dining table and that bear the scratches of abundant use. And they gather in the living room, whose look — animal prints on the ottoman, the wing chairs and throw pillows — speaks to Ms. Palminteri’s fondness for African design.

Ralph Lauren was the taming influence in the lair Mr. Palminteri calls his own. The paneled walls are a dignified hunter green, the carpet burgundy, the ceiling beams mahogany, the desk perfect for a lawyer or banker. “I think it’s so classy to have my office look like this,” he said.

The zero-gravity chair (where Mr. Palminteri does some of his best writing and takes some of his best naps) and the mini-trampoline, known as a rebounder (where he does five minutes of bouncing every hour or so), may not quite fit with the genteel décor, but so what.

Here, Mr. Palminteri is surrounded by framed posters of his movies (“The Usual Suspects,” “Mulholland Falls,” “Analyze This,” “A Bronx Tale”), photos of buddies like Al Pacino and Mr. De Niro, a duplicate of the Chazz Palminteri caricature that hangs in Sardi’s and a framed document certifying that a card with Mr. Palminteri’s signature observation about wasted talent is floating in space. For that, he thanks the former astronaut Mike Massimino, who, it so happens, is a big fan of “A Bronx Tale.”

In a corner sits an angel sculpture, one of several in the house.

“I have a thing for them,” Mr. Palminteri said. “I’m very spiritual, and they give me a feeling of being watched over.” The feeling seems justified.

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What to Expect From the Housing Market This Spring

The economics of home buying are getting interesting, thanks to higher mortgage rates, tax changes and a supply-demand imbalance.

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Telling a Story Through Tiles

One daring personalization through glass can be found in the Manhattan apartment of Babak Hakakian, a partner in Ddc, the high-end contemporary furniture company. Mr. Hakakian hired Mr. Chen to design the loft space, and together they covered the walls of a powder room in bright red glass — “Massimo Vignelli red,” as Mr. Hakakian called it.

Mr. Hakakian selected glass from the venerable Italian company Bisazza because, he said, it’s harder to achieve real true colors with stone tile, and because he knew the firm’s high-end, artisanal tile would wow guests.

The project wasn’t cheap. Though Mr. Hakakian received a trade discount, the glass tile he used costs $84 a square foot, far more than the $5 to $15 price of more basic stone tile. (Bisazza’s glass mosaics, meanwhile, can cost from $20 to $550 a square foot, before installation). But describing the effect, Mr. Hakakian said: “It’s all the things red is — it’s energizing, vital, fun, lively. It’s really sexy.”

A representative of New Ravenna said homeowners who use the company’s tiles can expect to spend from $300 to more than $1,000 a square foot for a patterned installation, depending on the intricacy of the design and the specific tiles selected. As one might expect, 24-karat gold glass will send a budget skyward.

Glass mosaics certainly have the power to stun, especially after two decades of shelter magazine spreads of spare, midcentury modern interiors. To walk into Bisazza’s Manhattan showroom is to feel like a visually starved person being treated to a banquet. There are kaleidoscopic mosaics of Renaissance-esque floral bouquets, geometric patterns, the giant face of young Napoleon Bonaparte.


A powder room in the New York City apartment of Babak Hakakian, by Eran Chen. Credit Frank Oudeman

Piero Bisazza, the chief executive, said the 62-year-old company has never wavered in its love of color and pattern. “You do not change your identity because fashion goes one direction or another,” he said. “We enjoy decoration, there’s no denying it.”

Nevertheless, he is finding that fashion is coming to them. “Flower power is very, very strong,” Mr. Bisazza said when asked about his most popular designs. “The pendulum is swinging back to rich — not opulent — but rich interiors.”

Annie Elliott, an interior designer in Washington, has been trying for years to get clients to embrace glass tiles for more than an accent strip in a bathroom or kitchen. It’s an investment not only of money, but also of structure and permanence, she said, and many homeowners are concerned about resale value or a design choice they’ll later regret.

“I understand it is a commitment,” Ms. Elliott said. “But when a client is bold enough to use glass on a whole wall, the effect is stunning, stunning.”

Ms. Elliott followed her own advice. Inspired by Gracie, the firm known for hand-painted chinoiserie wallpaper, she commissioned an artist to create a reverse-painted glass backsplash that is 8 feet wide, runs the length of her kitchen wall and replicates the look and fine detail of Audubon bird illustrations. The art glass, made up of three sections, gives her backsplash wall depth and brightness of color.

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Market Ready: Should I Remove Sports Memorabilia Before Showing My Home?

Jan Poulain, who owns Perfectly Placed for You, a home-staging company in Middlesex County, Mass., with Liz Larson, likened sports to religion, noting that objects associated with either could be problematic when you’re trying to sell because they’re so emotionally charged.

At the very least, Ms. Larson said, “you need to edit, edit, edit,” so that sports-related pictures, jerseys, pennants, balls and bobbleheads don’t overpower the room. Leave only a few key pieces, if you must, she said, and use them in the same way you would use art to decorate the walls.

A better idea is to store everything. If you have other options for artwork with more universal appeal, Ms. Poulain said, “use them.”

When deciding how far to go with your cleanout, consider where the room is in your home. If it’s in the basement or on the second floor, Ms. Poulain said, it will likely have less influence on a buyer’s overall perception of the property.

On the other hand, if the office is visible from the foyer, it will have a bigger impact. “In a first-impression space,” she said. “You want to be very selective of what you put in it.”

Another advantage to packing up sports memorabilia before putting your home on the market is that it may help ensure your prized possessions make it safely to their new home.

“If any of it is valuable, such as signed pieces,” Ms. Larson said, “we’d suggest removing those things for security reasons.”

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The Wassaic Project: A Festival, a ‘Beautiful’ Flood and Now Art

Last year’s festival drew 5,000 attendees. There’s a print shop, a bar and a pizza restaurant (with pies created by a Roberta’s of Bushwick alumnus) and perhaps, next year, a brewery.

They already have the equipment to start one, stored in the barn near the lunch counter where they’ve worked “performing” pancake breakfasts. The other day, the chilly space was brightened by a row of vintage aprons on wall pegs.

The Wassaic Project is a toothsome example of how artists schooled in social practice — that is, art that combines education, community engagement and social activism — can re-energize not just structures but entire towns like this tiny hamlet of just over 1,500 people that is the last stop on the Metro-North Harlem line.

One snow-flecked morning last week, Ms. Zunino and her husband, Jeff Barnett-Winsby, 35, drove a reporter through the eerie campus of the former Wassaic Developmental Center, a 1930s-era institution that was decommissioned a few years ago, half of which may some day — if the labyrinthine ways of Albany can be untangled — hold Wassaic Project offshoots, including housing.

“We’d like to make this place fertile,” said Mr. Barnett-Winsby, an energetic man with a stupendous beard. “Continue the energy of what we’ve been able to do in Wassaic.”

Ms. Zunino was in her first year of graduate school when her father, Tony Zunino, and Richard Berry, longtime preservationists and builders whose company, the Zuberry Development Corporation, has developed historic properties in the South Street Seaport, among other areas, finished stabilizing the old Maxon Mills in Wassaic, which they had bought as an act of preservation.

Mr. Zunino has a house in nearby Kent, Conn., and he loved the stately, wildly vertical structure, his daughter said.

At the time, Ms. Zunino and Ms. Biddle, who had done community work in Providence, R.I., were contemplating life after graduate school.

“We were reflecting on what communities were generous communities,” Ms. Zunino said. “I had grown up going to music festivals like Bonaroo. I wasn’t remotely a fan of the music, but I loved the spirit. People camping and sharing their food. So that was the inspiration. If we created a festival where the art wasn’t hippy stuff but serious contemporary art, could we create that kind of generous spirit, too?”

At the first Wassaic Project festival, 40 artists in various disciplines made installations among the grain bins and conveyor belts of the mill, and 15 bands played on a borrowed semitrailer truck. It was free (it still is), and drew more than 500 people. “We went door to door,” Ms. Zunino said, “handing out fliers.”

For the second festival, 2,500 people came, many camping on the rectangle of lawn in front of the old barn and livestock auction house that Zuberry had also bought.

At this point, Ms. Zunino and Mr. Barnett-Winsby, a fine-art photographer who had gone to Rhode Island School of Design as well and was also doing work that was not gallery-bound — documenting the lives of prisoners, shooting in a school for the blind — had fallen in love and were living in Providence, R.I.

A neighbor of Mr. Zunino’s who had donated some furniture to the Project offered them some advice along with his donation: “If you’re really going to do this,” he told Ms. Zunino and Mr. Barnett-Winsby, “you are going to have to live it.”

The first winter was punishing. Ms. Zunino, Mr. Barnett-Winsby and Dana Bunker, an artist who had finished a residency with them, began shoring up and readying the unheated auction barn for the following summer, living among a few buildings that Zuberry had bought to add to the Wassaic portfolio. (The Project rents the barn and the mill from Zuberry for $1 a year; the other properties, four houses including a former schoolhouse, rent for $1,000 to $2,000 each.)

Ms. Bunker’s boyfriend, Angelo Womack, a chef at Roberta’s in Bushwick, helped out, too, as did Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom, married art collaborators who work under the name Ghost of a Dream. (Mr. Womack and Ms. Bunker left a few years ago to open a pizza restaurant in California.)

As the Project picked up steam, Zuberry bought the Lantern building, a century-old former hotel and still-running bar. (Ms. Bogarin, who started that first festival with Ms. Zunino and Ms. Biddle, had left early on to work on film projects; Ms. Biddle, still a co-director, works winters in Brooklyn and spends her summers in Wassaic.)

In the spring of 2011, a drenching rainstorm hit the frozen ground, and the hamlet was flooded. Mr. Barnett-Winby and Mr. Eckstrom of Ghost of Dream bought every pump they could find at Home Depot, and after they had pumped out the Wassaic Project’s nine buildings, they began pumping out the rest of the town.

It was a watershed moment, if you’ll pardon the expression. It took almost a week to drain the town, and the pumps that Mr. Barnett-Winsby bought ran continually, as he and Mr. Eckstrom worked in shifts with their neighbors.

“Everyone in town suffered,” Mr. Barnett-Winsby said. “And I think people started to see us as people, not just weekenders or what have you. That was really important.”

Ms. Was and Mr. Eckstrom, who have made installations and “paintings” out of used lottery tickets and the covers of romance novels, which look like exotic quilts or mosaics, kept most of their material in the basement of the Wassaic Project’s schoolhouse, where they were renting.

Lost in the flood were bags and bags of paper, including some of the stubs donated by the son of a man who had lost everything to a gambling addiction. “He wanted some good to come out of his father’s addiction,” Mr. Eckstom said.

“It was a beautiful flood,” Ms. Zunino added.

Nonetheless, that summer, Mr. Eckstrom and Ms. Was bought a house here, too, a 1934 cottage for just under $125,000.

Real estate prices are part of the calculus that may make Wassaic work as an artists’ community. Costs still range “from the mid-100s to the mid-200s,” said Arleen Shepley, a broker in the Millerton office of Elyse Harney Real Estate.

The Lantern building has been completely renovated, its upstairs reconfigured into two modern, airy apartments designed by Damian and Britt Zunino, Ms. Zunino’s brother and sister-in-law, who have a design-build company called Studio DB.

Ms. Zunino and Mr. Barnett-Winsby now live in one side. But there was a point, she said, when she, Mr. Barnett-Winsby, Mr. Eckstrom and Ms. Was, Ms. Bunker and Mr. Womack, and Scott Anderson, the Project’s music director, and Jeila Gueramian, the artist responsible for the Project’s haunted house, their two children and four dogs, were living in the unrenovated space, with plastic tarp where the exterior walls had been and just one bathroom.

They were in the weeds last spring, too, when their second daughter, Fenner, was born.

The Lantern restaurant was up and running, with Mr. Barnett-Winsby cooking and managing, at the same time he was project-managing the Zuberry and Wassaic Project’s buildings. He, Ms. Zunino and Ms. Biddle, who still works from Brooklyn, would seem to have vast reserves of energy.

“We’ve gotten better about taking some time to exercise, or be with the kids,” he said. “There’s a lot to deal with. Running the bar is my compensation,” by which he means the profits, if any, accrue to him, and he and Ms. Zunino live rent-free. “The restaurant is a wash, but not for the long term. We’re trying to create the place we want to be in. We don’t want to lose money, but we’re all willing to make a long-term commitment to this place. Logically, financially, maybe it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But that comes back to social practice. We are doing things that are interesting and dynamic. Art is not completely rational, and that defines a lot of this.”

Art can be magical, said Nato Thompson, chief curator at Creative Time, an organization devoted to public and social practice art. (Last year’s collaboration with the Weeksville Heritage Center, at which artists opened health clinics and made other community-based work, is a good example.)

“It’s magical to experience things as a community together,” he said. “Even when the art goes, the relationships stay around. I think of the arts as a complex ecosystem. Social practice is a nice eddy in there. Wassaic may be just close enough to New York to survive. And I think what they’re doing is fantastic.”

Linda Gregory, 54, grew up in the area and runs the local auto repair shop with her husband, Jack. Ms. Zunino, Mr. Barnett-Winsby and their collaborators, she said, “have been such a positive influence. It’s been a beautiful transition of bringing buildings back to life.”

Last year, Zuberry bought half of the former institution from the architect Allan Shope, who had owned it for 10 years and had hoped to do some sort of sustainable housing there.

He grew tired, Mr. Zunino said, of waiting out Albany. At issue, he explained, is what the state is planning for the half it still owns: “There was talk they would put a prison up, and the last thing I’ve heard is they want to see some economic development up there. It’s all hearsay. We can’t find anyone to talk to, and nobody has been able to introduce us to anyone that will talk to us.”

He added: “We bought it to protect the investment we had already made in Wassaic. We didn’t want the campus there to become something that would compromise what we had done.”

Zuberry’s half (200 acres and 25 buildings) cost about $1.4 million, he said. “Maybe we’ll start piecemeal and organically, like Wassaic. Stabilize one building, and see what might work in there.”

“It was our dream that something like this would happen,” Mr. Zunino said of the Wassaic Project. “Left to our own devices, I don’t think my partner and I could have pulled it off. Their energy, that’s the magic they bring. The heart of any revitalization is not superimposing your vision, but engaging a community and working within the existing framework of what’s there.”

It was freezing in the mill last week as Ms. Zunino and Mr. Barnett-Winsby climbed the seven stories to one of the topmost grain-bin galleries.

In one, Manuel H. Márquez, an artist-in-residence from Mexico, had used the climate to his advantage, spraying water on moody black-and-white photographs so that they were frozen to the walls and embellished with glistening icicles. Ice chunks were displayed like sculptures on shelves hammered between the exposed studs.

It was a fine expression of adaptive reuse, this reporter thought. Ms. Zunino grinned.

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