The photographer Jay Maisel has owned the enormous property at 190 Bowery since 1966, and in the years since then—as the Bowery transformed from a grimy haven for the downtrodden to a still-kinda-grimy strip of museums and boutique hotels—it stood stoic, a graffiti-covered monument to The Way it Used to Be. Now, it's finally catching up to the neighborhood.
According to a New York Times article about Aby Rosen, the developer who purchased the former Germania Bank building, it has an unsurprising future as a combined retail/condominium space, "or possibly offices or even an art gallery." Rosen has not yet closed the deal and declined to mention what he paid; Maisel did not offer comment.
Maisel purchased the property for an astounding $102,000, and he and his family are the sole occupants, using the six-story, 72-room building as a combined living and studio/gallery space, and allowing the city's street artists and graffiti writers to make its outer walls their canvas. Rosen told the Times that after decades, Maisel simply decided "it was time" to move out:
"The building is in terrible shape. There's no heat, Jay lives in just a small area of the building, another winter is coming, and it was time," said Mr. Rosen, who spent six months cajoling Mr. Maisel into selling the home. "When you own a property for that long, and you are not a real estate professional, it takes a lot of convincing."
A 2008 New York mag article and photo essay about the impossible gem of a property provides the best look any ordinary person is likely to get at the interior. Despite appearances, Maisel and his family carved out a pretty nice-looking life inside.