First I just outline the story I gotta tell: from the late 1970s, early ’80s.
My girlfriend’s husband was a crook in more than one business. I knew him in the art business.
Martha allowed me to get to know her because she wanted to punish Ted for neglecting her: he’d just set himself up in a luxury apartment between the Village and SoHo with a sixteen year mistress. The teen was cute, had a truly round bottom, but Martha was, in the words of discerning colleague John Szoke, “the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen!”
Anyway, Ted defrauded people in real estate, in art deals, in corporate deals. My gallery (once I mistakenly added retail to my efforts) was on West Broadway (the west side), just below Spring Street (across from OK Harris); Ted and Martha had their Diversified gallery on West Broadway and Spring (the NW corner).
I remember talk that Ted wouldn’t show up at WashArt in 1976, the FBI would be there to nab him. He came, laid low, but was there: I never saw the FBI.
One day the sheriff put a padlock on Ted’s gallery. Ted came back after dark, hacksawed the sheriff’s padlock, and hauled off all the art inventory, stealing from the shareholders who’d sicced the law on him.
I mentioned this one day to Artie, my best customer. “It’s a good thing for Ted he didn’t cross anybody important,” Artie said.
a different Village business, just up the block
Let me introduce Artie. Artie owned a half a dozen art galleries downtown Manhattan: the Village on Sixth, Broad Street … Artie, other Jewish customers of mine had explained to me was an Ashkenazi Jew, but he’d married a Sephardic Jew, got into the Sephardic cousins’ business, had been funded, advised, by them. My Jewish customers explained that they were all Ashkenazi: the nice Jews, the European Jews: Russians, Germans, Poles … The Sephardim were skunks, crooks … Arabs!
Some Jew! Artie would hold a Luger on me! Artie would poke me in the adams apple with a Nazi bayonet!
But Artie would buy four figures from me at a time, and another four figures the next month. Artie paid me in cash: he’d count out ten, twelve … hundred dollar bills. When he was mad at me he’d pay me in tens, fives. Once he gave me a check, a rubber check: but he made it good latter on.
So I said, “Artie, what do you mean nobody important: Ted stiffed Noles for $30,000!”
Artie smiled patronizingly at me: “Is Ted still walking around?” he asked. “Does he still have his legs? his arms?
“Fortunately for him, he didn’t dick anybody important.”
That SoHo is not the SoHo I remember with love and nostalgia. The SoHo I loved wasn’t the one with my gallery, wasn’t the one with my old buddy’s restaurant on the SE Corner; it was the one with Milan Laboratories on Spring just off West Broadway: that’s where I bought my beer- and wine-making supplies! Wonderful old world business.