Interview, the splashy art and fashion magazine founded by Andy Warhol in 1969, and more recently known as the industry shysters notorious for not paying their contributors, is expected to relaunch this month after their sudden shutdown in May. They have now officially established that they are not repaying their contributors.
As several publications (Women’s Wear Daily, the New York Times) predicted, Interview was able to skirt around paying $3.3 million owed to nearly 300 creditors–including the Hammer Museum, a litany of freelancers, photo agencies, staff (longtime former editorial director Fabien Baron has sued Brant for $600,000), and top modeling agencies–by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy so that owner and collector Peter Brant could buy it back (from himself) through a new holding company for $1.5 million. His bid was approved by a New York bankruptcy court on Tuesday. The 27-page list of creditors is truly stunning (scroll all the way down).
Brant, a Warhol collector who purchased Interview for $10 million in 1989 after the artist’s death, has been personally financing the magazine–whose circulation reportedly peaked at 230,000–for several years. He is listed as the only secured creditor with a claim of $8 million, an investor status which gives himself first priority to be paid back over the list of 300 people the magazine owed. Women’s Wear Daily puts it bluntly: “So, in effect, Brant has agreed to pay himself $1.5 million for a magazine he already owned, but was supposedly tired of floating, and put into liquidation.”
It seems that this was more or less the plan all along. Just four days after Interview filed for bankruptcy, publisher Jason Nikic circulated an internal memo leaked to The Daily, announcing that he and Brant’s daughter Kelly Brant, Interview’s president, had founded a “new startup” Crystal Ball Media, which was already “in the process of acquiring the intellectual property for Interview.” A source speculated to WWD that a Brant-affiliated entity or Brant himself may have held the trademark, which would make it pointless for another company to bid. The Crystal Ball memo touts their business plan as Warholian, leading with a quote: “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” They note that the shutdown announcement got the magazine 15,000 Instagram followers in four days–“a whole new audience of young people”!
If there’s one fly in the ointment, they may have trouble finding creative entities to work with them.
Jezebel has reached out to representatives for Brant and Interview and will update the post if we hear back.