Good morning Today we look at the city’s auction of 50 gifts to former mayors. We’ll also watch as prosecutors re-examine Donald Trump’s role in hush money payments to a porn star.
Like presidents, governors, and other officials, mayors receive gifts all the time.
We’re not talking bags of cash here – we’re talking jewelry. Totally legal stuff, but stuff they’d probably never use. Consider:
A pair of Nike Air Force Ones signed by rapper and actor Ice-T and graffiti artist and hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy in 2008. (Can you imagine Michael Bloomberg, then Mayor, in Air Jordans? )
You can’t take it with you, mayors are not even allowed to take such things with them from the town hall – gifts to mayors belong to the city. You (or probably someone at City Hall) send them to the agency often thought of as the repository of historical documents and photographs, the Department of Records and Information Services.
It features more than 185,000 cubic feet of things accumulated over nearly 400 years, from colonial-era Dutch and English manuscripts to the original construction drawings of the Brooklyn Bridge to tax photographs from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1980s. It also has more than 10 million birth and death certificates and marriage certificates.
It is tantamount to an urban Wunderkammer. And the city is cleaning up, but just a little: 50 items gifted to mayors from Edward Koch to Bloomberg are being given away.
An online auction begins today and is being held by another city agency, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which sold a vintage subway car in July for $235,700. Proceeds from the sale of mayors’ gifts go to the City Archives Reference and Research Fund.
It’s not the first time the city has sold some of its holdings. It unloaded old saloon licenses and, in the 1980s, a folio of drawings by John James Audubon that the town had owned for 135 years. Using the recording agency’s acronym, the city said the items for sale “were deemed by DORIS to have no research or archival value.”
So much for a framed front page from The Village Voice with the cover story “Mayor Dearest: An Exclusive Preview of Mayor Koch’s Memoirs.”
The same is true for a portrait of Koch from 1988, well into his third term at City Hall. The drawing is by artist Miriam Troop, who died in 2016 at the age of 99. “She was a huge cooking fan,” recalls her daughter Abigail Zuger, who said it was Troop’s habit of making preliminary sketches and photographing a subject — and having the subject sign a blank piece of drawing paper.
Koch signed, and Zuger said that when Troop later went back to City Hall to give Koch the finished portrait, he looked at it and said, “You did that?”
“She thought that was the best compliment,” Zuger said. “She enjoyed doing it and was glad it was on City Hall. And if it goes to another home and brings in some money for the city, we’d both be happy.”
The city placed a starting bid of $40 on the Village Voice page and $50 on the portrait. The starting bid for the Louis Vuitton football is $600, while the starting bid for a pair of sterling silver Tiffany cufflinks and a pin, also presented to Rudolph Giuliani, is $40.
And there are the Nike Air Force Ones, which were apparently given to Bloomberg when Ice-T appeared at City Hall to announce that the annual Hip Hip Honors awards show would remain in New York. Bloomberg welcomed him to City Hall — “or my crib, as I like to call it,” Bloomberg quipped at the time — along with graffiti artist and hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy and others.
“My people said Bloomberg is cool, man,” Ice-T said at the time.
“So that’s what happened with these sneakers,” Bloomberg said through a spokesman last week upon learning of the auction.
It’s a sunny day in the near low 40’s. Evenings will be mostly clear with temperatures in the low 30s. Expect gusts of wind.
Manhattan DAs revisit Donald Trump’s role in a hush money payment to a porn star, returning to an aspect of the investigation that once appeared to have reached an impasse.
Prosecutors first investigated the payment to actress Stormy Daniels when Cyrus Vance Jr. was district attorney. The direction of the investigation changed to focus on Trump’s broader business practices, and Alvin Bragg, who succeeded Vance in January, has been reluctant to charge Trump in connection with his business practices.
But Bragg and some of his deputies have recently indicated that they are newly optimistic about building a case against Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.
Three of my colleagues — Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William K. Rashbaum — write that prosecutors are pressuring a longtime Trump lieutenant, Allen Weisselberg, to cooperate. He has already pleaded guilty to unrelated tax charges and testified last week at his trial for the same tax offenses against Trump’s companies. But Weisselberg has not turned against Trump.
To add pressure, prosecutors are considering a new round of indictments against Weisselberg, hoping to win his cooperation against the former president. These allegations, which involve insurance fraud, are unrelated to the hush money.
But there’s little sign that Weisselberg, who had direct knowledge of the payment to Daniels, would suddenly agree to collaborate. And Bragg prosecutors have yet to produce evidence of the hush money payment to a grand jury, suggesting it wouldn’t happen this year if they decide to press charges, people familiar with the matter said.
I joined the morning crowd on the escalator descending to the 83rd Street entrance to the Q train, which has to be among the steepest in Manhattan.
The escalator upstairs didn’t work that morning. Dozens of people were on the way down, but only one person, a man, came up on the opposite side step by step (I counted 130 while making the climb during other breaks).
This man made the ascent with ease and grace. He was dressed in a smart suit and tie, remarkable in comparison to the attire worn by the people in the crowd going downstairs. While climbing, he had pressed a mobile phone to his head and was waving his free arm around wildly.
Looking at him from above, it was hard to tell if he was gesturing happy or angry.
Eventually he stopped abruptly on the motionless stairwell, standing stock still, leaning into his phone. As the escalator continued down, I got close enough to hear what he was saying.
Suddenly he screamed into the phone in a booming voice.
“No, listen!” he yelled at whoever was on the other end of the line. He held the phone right in front of his mouth. “The only thing I need from you now is that you act like you understand what I’m telling you!”
And then I passed him. I looked back over my shoulder and saw that he had renewed his uphill walk. But his words hung in the air. And when I got to the platform, they made perfect sense to me.
– HP Newquist
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Submit submissions here and Read more Metropolitan Diary here.
Glad we were able to get together here. See you tomorrow. – JB
PS Here is today’s Mini crosswords and Spelling Bee. You can find all of our puzzles here.
Melissa Guerrero and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected]
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