Heirs of real estate titan Sheldon Solow fumed that a longtime critic was hijacking the late mogul’s name for an online spoof of their off-limits art gallery — but an arbitrator said the family painted itslef into a corner by not trademarking the name.
New York art-world gadfly Ethan Arnheim started Solowfoundation.org in 2017 to ridicule the fact that the street-level gallery at Solow’s towering 9 West 57th St. — featuring masterpieces by Matisse, Miro, Giacometti, part of Solow’s half-billion-dollar collection — is closed to the public.
Arnheim’s parody site lists the gallery’s hours of operation for all seven days of the week as, for example, “inaccessible,” “closed,” “not open” and “absolutely not.”
The heading on Arnheim’s site is “Solow Art and Architecture Foundation,” although the gallery was renamed the Soloviev Foundation following Solow’s death.
A fed-up Stefan Soloviev, who heads up Solow’s real estate empire following his father’s death in 2020 at age 92, brought a case against Arnheim to the World International Property Organization (WIPO), a UN-affiliated agency that monitors domain-name use.
But late last month, WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center ruled that the family “failed to provide evidence that Mr. Solow’s name, or the name of the Solow Foundation, have been used in a trademark manner.”
Moreoever, WIPO said that Arnheim never tried to make money off his parody site, which he said was just meant to call attention to the gallery’s tax-exempt status.
“Using charges of cybersquatting, the Solow heirs tried to take the Web site from me,” Arnheim told The Post.
The gallery’s locked doors have long vexed passers-by on West 57th Street and art-world insiders, including Arnheim, who says its tax-exempt status should require it to be accessible to all.
The major painters and sculptors can only be viewed through glare-filled windows facing the sidewalk.
Former Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer once tweeted that the showroom’s tax-exempt status was “outrageous.”
Asked whether the Solows would take the case to a US court, Hayden Soloviev, a son of Stefan Soloviev, said, “My father has bigger things to deal with than some bored person and his fake Web site, and I’m sure he’ll deal with it when his obligations of running an eight-region conglomerate allow him to.
“But yes, the company will take further action on this matter.”
Hayden Soloviev told The Post last year that the company plans to open the gallery to the public later this year after remodeling is completed. He also denied published reports that the tower was for sale.