9.14.2014

Apology re Yesterday's Green Post Comments

Yesterday I wrote a post in answer to a piece in the WaPo - PhDiva: I come to bury Green, not to praise him - about the almost universally condemned Green Scholar Initiative acquisition policies and treatment of Egyptian antiquities:
Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green has big plans for his Bible museum in Washington - The Washington Post

I'm hoping that Michelle Boorstein is using a heavy dose of sarcasm here:
Steve Green is standing in the basement of the eight-story Bible museum he’s building in Washington. Plans for the $800 million project are coming together nicely: the ballroom modeled after Versailles, the Disney-quality holograms, the soaring digital entryway with religious images projected on the ceiling, the restaurant serving biblically-themed meals.

 But my issue is not poor taste in decorating ...
A few people sent the author Ms Boorstein comments of a similar nature, including that post and the many others by scholars who have researched the Green collection, to which she replied:


Although Roberta Mazza was politer in pointing out that she had already furnished Ms Boorstein with information prior to publication:


I'm afraid that I was not, and I wrote something that I should not have. I implied that Ms Boorstein would be better suited to writing puff pieces for Town and Country magazine than journalism for the Washington Post. I should not have done so, and I would like to apologise unreservedly. I do not look down on Town and Country magazine, nor do I believe that they write puff pieces. It was a throw-away remark, and in fact I actually like that there are magazines out there who write positive articles rather than scurrilous tabloid-style ones. I enjoy reading Town and Country magazine, and will continue to purchase it, since it maintains higher journalistic standards that the Washington Post. I cannot apologise enough to Town and Country magazine, nor express how much I regret this slur against them.

A journalist from Town and Country would also probably have appreciated the irony of decorating a la Versailles, and know that whilst those who emulate the style see themselves as the great Louis XIV, they more often fall from grace like Louis XVI - see Patricia Kluge and all the other '80s trophy wives chronicled by Tom Wolfe in Bonfire of the Vanities and in Dominick Dunne's brilliantly observed People Like Us.

As a quick reminder, this is how Mrs Louis XVI ended up ...

Marie Antoinette's execution in 1793 at the Place de la Révolution, unknown artist.

Incidentally, although we recognise David as having been a great artist, Marie Antoinette probably would have looked down her nose at his art and seen his as a royal "decorator" ... David played an active role in the French Revolution, and in fact voted during the National Convention in favour of the execution of Louis XVI. I can't think of a better illustration of why one should treat everyone as human beings, and not as serfs merely there to do one's bidding.

Drawing by Jacques-Louis David of  Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine on 16 October 1793, now in the Louvre.


Lauren Greenfield's documentary, The Queen of Versailles, featuring the rise and fall of David and Jackie Siegel and their attempt to build a house modeled on Versailles is brilliant - ironic, self-aware, moving and very funny, it should be required viewing for all self-made men. Available at the usual sources: Amazon US and Amazon UK, etc ...

In case people accuse me of being a snob about 'new' money; I've always had far more respect for those who made their own way in the world than for those born with a silver spoon who inherited riches. And better nouveau riche than never riche - because these are the people that fund museums and cultural institutions. Just ... not always in the right way ...

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