New York Observer's Desperate LBM Smear Misfires And Is Full of Errors

New York Observer's Desperate LBM Smear Misfires  And Is Full of Errors
Jared Kushner, publisher of the New York Observer
(Courtesy of Getty Images)

UPDATE: In a post on the Observer's Web site responding to this article, the author states that "LBM President Ben Hartley objected to a number of elements in this article, noting that he had replied to several of our questions and that The Observer 'chose to disregard this and publish anyway.'” Had the author of the new post bothered to look carefully, the story on Artinfo.com contains a byline — that of Benjamin Genocchio, the Editorial Director at LBM, not Ben Hartley. Oops, guys, wrong Ben! It is also worth pointing out that the Observer's post acknowledges the presence of factual inaccuracies in their original story. In addition, none of the journalist's so-called "sources" are named in either the story or the subsequent post. It is astonishing how sloppy the New York Observer's journalists are.

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Today the New York Observer published an article on Louise Blouin, owner of Louise Blouin Media, the parent company of Artinfo.com.

In researching the story, the journalist, Kat Stoeffel, contacted LBM President Ben Hartley to check facts. Though many of the alleged facts in the story were incorrect, as was pointed out to her in an email, the journalist and her editors chose to disregard this and publish anyway. WTF?

There are frequently challenges to getting a story right, but in this case the Observer has chosen to deliberately publish false and inaccurate information in what appears to be a gross violation of journalistic standards.

Below is a copy of the email sent from LBM president Ben Hartley to the journalist at 4:04 p.m. yesterday, pointing out all of the mistakes in the story.  

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As Artinfo.com has passed 1 million page views a week — with readers in 194 countries — and continues to grow, perhaps they are feeling the heat.

– Benjamin Genocchio, Editor-in-Chief of Artinfo.com

Email from Ben Hartley, president of LBM, to Observer journalist:

Kat:

I would like to correct some of the issues you have raised below.  I trust that you will accurately report these details and not irresponsibly repeat gossip and inaccurate prior news reports.

Ms. Blouin married Mathew Kabatoff in France in June — Correct

Bernard Arnault, the LVMH executive who had pulled out of Mr. de Pury's auction house, gave Ms. Blouin a deal on Art & Auction, unloading it for $1 and $100,000 of free advertising for LVMH brands, according to a source — Incorrect

Within the first year, Louise Blouin Media cycled through three chief financial officers, and lost Mr. Truman, reportedly over budget issues — Incorrect

In 2008, Louise Blouin Media moved to a new office on Tenth Avenue, paying $1 million for a Richard Meier–designed interior. According to an insider, another $1 million went toward a fogging glass wall for the conference room — Incorrect

As art galleries closed and ad pages dropped, Ms. Blouin ordered the magazines printed on thicker paper, to give the impression of a robust book — This was done to improve the quality of the product.

Ms. Blouin's personal wealth is entwined with Louise Blouin Media, as such — LBM is a 100 percent owned by Louise Blouin. The company is a privately held and financed company. We do not discuss private matters.

At the most recent editorial retreat, an editor still with the company reported that Paul, the butler, had left Gin Lane, and without him it had fallen into slight disrepair. Ms. Blouin has been trying to sell the estate intermittently since 2006. — The house is not on the market, despite numerous unsolicited offers. There has been no editorial retreat at Gin Lane.

Outside investors have expressed interest in buying stake in the company, but Ms. Blouin is not interested — The company is not for sale and is in significant growth and hiring phase.

The Blouin Index is currently accessible for free at Artinfo.com, and is scheduled to switch over to a paywall model at the end of October — Correct

Additionally, Louise Blouin Media recently hired Bill Fine, formerly the president of Artnet.com, and has begun hiring full-time staff writers for ArtInfo.com for the first time in years — Correct, we have recently hired Marcia Vetroq, formerly executive editor at Art in America; Sarah Hanson of Art News and Assouline; Eric Bryant of Artnews, all lead by editorial director Benjamin Genocchio, formerly of the New York Times. Additional writers include Janelle Zara of New York Magazine and Ann Binlot of CBS Online.

LBM owns and operates publications including Art + Auction; Modern Painters and four editions of Gallery Guide.  In addition the company operates Artinfo.com — a global cultural site; Artinfo.cn in China and Artinfo.fr in France. The company also owns Somogy, which publishes over 100 catalogs per year as well as Blouin Art Sales Index, a global database of auction results and art market information.

Lights being turned off, employees being locked out, freelancers going unpaid The issue with the building ownership was settled in our favor