André Leon Talley Faces Eviction From Home Owned by Former Manolo Blahnik CEO

Discussion in 'In the News...' started by Benn98, Feb 24, 2021.

  1. Benn98

    Benn98 Well-Known Member

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    Via New York Post:

    André Leon Talley eviction gets ugly: Insiders back ex-Manolo Blahnik CEO

    By Emily Smith
    February 22, 2021 | 3:57pm | Updated
    Fashion insiders are backing former Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus in the messy legal battle to evict Vogue legend André Leon Talley from his New York mansion.

    The Post exclusively revealed Talley has filed a bombshell lawsuit in Westchester Supreme Court claiming Malkemus and his business partner and husband, Tony Yurgaitis, were unfairly forcing him out of the $1 million White Plains home he says he owns.

    But Malkemus and Yurgaitis insist they are the true owners, and had leased the picturesque colonial property to Talley, alleging he owes them up to $500,000 in rent.

    The fashion insider, who asked not to be named, said, “I worked for George Malkemus and Tony Yurgaitis for many years, and can confidently say that [Talley’s] accusations are complete stuff and nonsense.

    “They are two of the most generous, loyal and forgiving people on the planet. They would give you the shirts off their backs and would never expect them to be returned. That they’ve maintained these qualities for decades, in an industry made up of so many egomaniacal vipers, is astonishing.

    “They are also extremely private, so I can only imagine they feel betrayed and saddened that their friendship and devotion have been distorted into a web of petty lies.”

    Malkemus — who has more recently partnered with Sarah Jessica Parker on her SJP shoe brand — last year launched an eviction action against Talley in a bid to get him out of the palatial White Plains property, where the famed fashion editor has lived since 2004.

    Talley, 72, has long insisted that the historic 11-room colonial home with sumptuous gardens at 75 Worthington Road is his own, telling the New York Times in 2018, “It is my sanctuary” and that he bought it in 2006. Ironically, the home features numerous items from Blahnik in pride of place, including a sketch of a shoe by the famed designer himself.

    But court papers seen by The Post and Page Six allege that the real owners are Malkemus and Yurgaitis, and that they bought the home in 2004 for just over $1 million.

    The pair have known Talley for nearly 40 years. Yet this past November, Malkemus “commenced a summary non-payment proceeding in White Plains City Court … seeking to evict Talley from the home and for a money judgement against Talley in the amount of $515,872.97 representing alleged arrears,” the court papers state.

    Talley — who in 1988 was appointed by Anna Wintour to be the creative director of Vogue, the first African-American person to ever hold the position — responded by filing his own lawsuit against Malkemus and Yurgaitis in Westchester Supreme Court on Jan. 25.

    He claims the pair, who were “longtime, trusted friends,” agreed to buy the home for him and transfer the title once he had repaid them the $1,020,000 purchase price.

    The papers state that “over time, as friends, Talley and Malkemus assisted each other not only in professional matters but in personal matters as well … as [Talley] rose in the fashion world and found his circumstances frequently changing and demands on his time increasing.”

    The papers allege that in 1999, Talley needed to buy a new car but was unable to do so because of “issues with his credit.” Malkemus allegedly offered to buy the car on his behalf, using $45,000 in funds provided by Talley.

    Then in 2004, Talley was renting a home that developed a mold problem and needed to find a new place near New York. “At the time, Talley’s work schedule was particularly demanding and he could not obtain traditional financing,” the lawsuit claims.

    Instead, Talley’s lawsuit alleges he, Malkemus and Yurgaitis entered into a “gentleman’s agreement” and that Talley would provide a $120,000 down payment and Malkemus and Yurgaitis would “use the down payment and funds of their own to purchase the home for Talley’s benefit.”

    The former Vogue editor-at-large’s legal paperwork claims, “The parties agreed that Talley would exclusively own, occupy and care for the home. It was agreed and always understood that Talley would, over time, ‘pay off’ the balance of the purchase price paid by the defendants, at which point [the] title would then formally be transferred to Talley … In the meantime, the defendants would hold the title for the beneficial ownership of Talley.”

    He claims that he has lived at the home since their agreement and paid back more than the purchase price, totaling $1,075,588 as of January 2020, with his court papers adding that Talley “has also paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to third parties to maintain and improve the home.”

    Talley’s filing also alleges, “This action arises out of the defendants’ improper attempt to evict Talley from a home … that is rightfully his, so that they may sell the property.”

    The papers detail a highly unusual arrangement in which, “while Talley has resided in the home from 2004 to the present, he has made episodic payments to the defendants that he understood to be equity payments.

    “The timing and amount of these episodic payments were based on Talley’s cash flow … Talley never made these payments to the defendants on a monthly basis, and was not asked to.”

    Talley also alleges in the lawsuit that he has personally spent over $200,000 to maintain the home, including replacing the roof, windows, shutters and boiler.

    “Despite this,” court papers go on, “in or around March of 2020, the defendants began discussing with Talley their interest in selling the home solely for their own financial benefit. They began asking him to either make additional payments or vacate the home so it could be sold to a third party.

    “In return for his decades of friendship and trust,” Malkemus filed his lawsuit seeking Talley’s eviction and a payment of more than a half-million dollars.

    “Since 2004 Talley has always operated with the understanding the home was his, and that the arrangement could be formalized upon his repayment of the purchase price of the home.”

    But “because this promise was not reduced to writing, Talley has no adequate remedy at law.” He is demanding he be allowed to continue living in the home and the title be transferred to him.

    Talley retired from full-time editing in 2014, and more recently taught classes remotely at the Parsons School of Design in Paris. Real estate is hardly the only dramatic area of his life: Last year he published a bombshell book, “The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir,” which was critical of Wintour. He described his relationship with her as “in an iceberg.”

    When reached by Page Six, Malkemus and Yurgaitis’ attorney Edward David said, “The complaint only tells [Talley’s] side of the story. We have not yet filed our answer or counterclaim, which will explain the real story.

    “Remember, the initial complaint was for eviction in Greenburgh Town Court. Malkemus and Yurgaitis are the record owners of the house and want to sell it. Talley is over $300,000 behind in rent. He is desperate to stay and [his team] concocted their ‘story.'”

    Talley’s attorney Erik Weinick said, “The court filings show that Mr. Talley has an extremely strong case, and we fully expect he will prevail in this unfortunate dispute.”
     
  2. annikad

    annikad Active Member

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    What a mess... it's very hard to feel any sympathy for Talley at this point.
     
  3. aracic

    aracic Moderator

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    So I take it the infamous book didn't sell as well as expected? -_-
     
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  4. mepps

    mepps Well-Known Member

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    Via, The New York Times

    The Dispossession of André Leon Talley


    An attempt to evict the fashion icon shines a spotlight on some of the very blurry lines in fashion

    [​IMG]
    André Leon Talley at his home in White Plains, N.Y., in 2017.Credit...Ike Edeani for The New York Times
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    By Vanessa Friedman and Elizabeth Paton

    • Feb. 24, 2021, 7:00 a.m. ET
    André Leon Talley, the flamboyant and pioneering Black fashion editor who rocked the industry last May with his memoir, “The Chiffon Trenches,” in which he took potshots at such sacred cows of style as Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, is back exposing parts of fashion’s muddy underbelly — albeit inadvertently.

    Since 2004, Mr. Talley, 72, has lived in an 11-room white colonial in White Plains, just north of New York City.

    At that time, George Malkemus, the former head of Manolo Blahnik USA, and Anthony Yurgaitis, his business partner and husband, bought the house for about $1 million on the understanding that Mr. Talley would live in it and pay Mr. Malkemus and Mr. Yurgaitis money each month.

    Mr. Malkemus and his husband called this “rent,” and the three men signed a two-year lease to that effect, renewable for up to eight more years.
    That lease expired in 2014, and was never re-signed, and the amount of money Mr. Talley paid each month varied widely according to his income stream.

    And then, in November 2020, Mr. Malkemus and Mr. Yurgaitis filed to evict Mr. Talley. In late January, Mr. Talley filed a counterclaim, saying he believed these payments were an equity investment intended to result in his ownership of the house. These cases were first reported by The New York Post.

    Having now paid $955,558 according to an accounting exhibit attached to the filing, Mr. Talley’s petition requests the house be placed in a trust so he can prove his right to ownership. Mr. Malkemus contends that he is owed $515,872.96, and that — well, it’s his house.

    In some ways, the suits are simply the latest cautionary tale about the problems of mixing work and friendship. But more broadly, the problem with the house throws light on a pattern of behavior long endemic to the fashion world, in which gifts, favors and influence were the currency of exchange. Often, it was hard to tell what was business and what was personal.

    It may seem relatively minor — a free bag here, in the hope that an editor may be photographed carrying it to her seat in the front row, hence serving as a quasi- advertisement for a brand, or a free trip to a show in a faraway country, with a first-class ticket and hotel, in return for a review that otherwise wouldn’t happen because of tightening budgets.

    But as Mr. Talley’s situation shows, such arrangements, always unspoken, helped carve out a wider slippery slope. And it’s easy to lose your footing and slide all the way to the bottom.

    Though this was an extreme example of the favor exchange in fashion, it was far from unique. In her memoir, “Clothes … And Other Things That Matter,” Alexandra Shulman, the former editor of British Vogue, writes of being “gifted two Chanel jackets by the label’s London press office soon after my arrival at Vogue,” in 1992, which “would have cost about £1,000 at that time.”

    Ms. Shulman also describes editors arriving in Paris to discover “wardrobes stuffed with Chanel hanging bags.” Though she herself did not receive them, she did get an offer — also not long after she arrived at Vogue — from Catherine Walker, one of Princess Diana’s favorite designers, to make her an evening dress, which she happily accepted.

    Even today, products, including the latest sneakers and cosmetics and bags, are regularly received by certain power players in the industry — generally editors at glossy fashion magazines or social media influencers — from brands hoping for favorable coverage.

    The gifting is rarely as crude or straightforward as pay to play; there’s often no stated quid pro quo. And editors would insist it does not affect their taste or judgment, which is their currency, despite the fact that in many other businesses, gifting of this nature may prompt accusations of bribery and corruption.

    But in fashion, which was and is an industry where salaries are notoriously low and the pressure to represent the brand is notoriously high, it has long been considered part of the sector’s basic economy and an approved relationship-building tool (that often, for the brands, is considered a marketing expense).

    According to the fashion news website Fashionista, for example, the average assistant market editor at a print title, whose job is to help select which items end up in published roundups and reviews, was $25,000 in 2019. To supplement these low incomes, those editors may sell items they have been given to them as a way to make extra money, a practice fueled in recent years by the booming online resale market.

    Sometimes models will be paid for their runway or photo-shoot work with clothes or accessories rather than cash, either because they are just starting out or because they are doing a favor for a designer who otherwise could not afford to pay them.

    As a whole, such practices foster an environment where everyone involved is conditioned to rely not on the kindness of strangers, but on the largess of business acquaintances.

    Lines are further blurred by the fact that in fashion, professional relationships are often nurtured in nonprofessional settings: on a beach for a photo shoot, where everyone is staying at the same resort; over dinner at Caviar Kaspia in Paris, to celebrate a show. It was general practice, in glossy magazines, to hire certain “contributing editors” because of their social connections so that they could urge their friends to become subjects.

    Indeed, it was in part because he so clearly enjoyed Karl Lagerfeld’s favor, Mr. Talley writes in his memoir, that he was so important to Vogue. And he enjoyed Mr. Lagerfeld’s favor, in part, because he so clearly, and vocally, believed in his talent.

    Against this backdrop, the idea that a friend, albeit one whose business was visibly intertwined with Mr. Talley’s business, would offer to step in and help him buy a house when he got in trouble probably didn’t seem outlandish. Especially because Mr. Malkemus had acted as his proxy before.

    In 2004, according to Mr. Talley’s affidavit, Mr. Talley was forced to leave his New York apartment because of mold. In part because Mr. Talley (for whom money was worth thinking about simply as a means to purchase the beautiful things he craved) had run into financial trouble three times before — he filed for bankruptcy in North Carolina in 1997 and 1998, and in New York in 1993, largely because of failure to pay taxes — getting a mortgage would be complicated.

    So Mr. Malkemus and Mr. Yurgaitis offered to act as proxies for Mr. Talley: to buy the house and hold the mortgage — or so says Mr. Talley’s lawsuit, which claims he was operating in good faith that he would one day become owner of the property. He had also paid, his affidavit said, to maintain and improve the property, including spending $12,000 on a new boiler and $30,000 to replace the roof.

    Given that in 1999 Mr. Talley claims Mr. Malkemus helped him buy a car in much the same way — for reasons not specified in the affidavit Mr. Talley was “unable to do so myself,” so he wired Mr. Malkemus approximately $45,000, the papers say, and Mr. Malkemus “went to a dealership and used those funds to purchase the vehicle on my behalf” — there was precedent.

    There were as well signs of potential future problems, with Mr. Talley apparently believing the $120,000 he gave Mr. Malkemus as part of the purchase was a down payment, though in the lease it was identified as a “security deposit.”

    With suburban New York housing in high demand in the pandemic, Mr. Malkemus and Mr. Yurgaitis continued to ask Mr. Talley to vacate the house. According to their lawyer, Edward David, it was only after Mr. Talley retained counsel that they served him notice.

    “The home is far more than just where I sleep and keep my belongings — it is, in its own right, a part of my life,” Mr. Talley says in his affidavit. “Losing it would uproot the life that I have made here. It would be both devastating and disruptive.” That is not just because of its emotional meaning, but because the house is also, the affidavit reads, part of Mr. Talley’s “brand.” (It provided part of the backdrop in a recent Ugg advertisement featuring Mr. Talley.)

    After Mr. Talley’s filing to stop the eviction and win title to his house — or at least to be paid back for his original investment, with interest — Mr. David, said that “George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis are two of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of representing. Their reputation for honesty and fairness is beyond reproach.

    “This is a case of Mr. Talley being a recipient of that kindness and taking extreme advantage — nothing more. The facts will become clearer in the next few days and months. We still hold out hope that this case will be amicably resolved.” Mr. David also said he would be filing a counterclaim in early March.

    Erik Weineck, Mr. Talley’s lawyer, emailed a brief statement: “It is unfortunate that this dispute has led to litigation,” he wrote, “but as the pleadings show, Mr. Talley has an extremely strong case and is looking forward to prevailing in court.”

    And the messy coziness of the fashion world itself may be placed on trial.
     
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  5. MyNameIs

    MyNameIs Well-Known Member

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    Barf.

    Idk, both sides sound plausible tbh. Since ALT has been such a mess, I'm leaning to take the other side, but that might be unfair. These kind of rent-to-own deals are usually dangerous (for the buyer) for this very reason.
     
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  6. Benn98

    Benn98 Well-Known Member

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    Not to mention the so called 'gentleman's agreement'. Any gentleman's agreement is bound to end in tears.

    I'll also take a Swiss approach on this debacle and will wait to see how the lawsuit proceed because maybe ALT is in fact right and these two are just looking for a payday because they may have been hit hard by the pandemic. And I find the fact that all of a sudden NY Post managed to get an insider who sides with the owners very suspect.
    Or, maybe ALT is just bad with money. If he had trouble with his credit in the 90s and that was at the peak of his career, then something doesn't add up. One of the stories that came to light in the last book was that Anna arranged an interest-free loan for him when he worked at CN, and he bought his grandmother's house. I believe she too got an interest-free loan to buy her townhouse.

    It's sad in a way he's facing eviction at this age though I doubt it will come to that. He must have money, right? Even if the last book didn't sell, he had the one before that and the documentary. No wonder he did the UGG campaign.

    The whole gifting phenomenon is ridiculously commonplace but not only to fashion, it's also rampant in food and travel magazines, newspaper editors. That's exactly how the blogger model started and currently how influencers stay afloat. So I don't even know why Vanessa is making as if she's letting everyone in on this well-kept secret. Whenever I encounter it, which is often (I'm not a blogger nor influencer! :sick:), I always make it crude and transactional and tell the brand what exactly they'll get in return for the gift instead of leaving it open-ended which can often lead to squabbles.
     
    #6 Benn98, Feb 24, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
  7. Phuel

    Phuel Well-Known Member

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    ^^^ It is unfortunate that he seems to be at a state of such disarray at a time of life when he ought to have at least a comfortable stability. He’s an ideal cautionary tale of privilege and entitlement overstaying their welcome and not seeming to learn about humility and modesty. Everything about him to this day still reeks of someone living beyond his means and relevance. You’d think by the time he was in his 40s— with all the plush opportunities he had along the way, he would look towards building and investing in his securing financial stability, rather than continue to live like the 20yo hot young thing lugging around his expensive bags and coats, coach-surfing in the poshest mansions of “friends”. (Take heed from Jodi when she says “…Friends will let you down.”)

    I suspect he did make a decent profit from his gossip rag, and that’s why the lawsuit is filed. Hopefully, he will come out of this with some financial stability intact. At his age, no matter his past trespasses, he deserves some peace.
     
  8. THD96

    THD96 Well-Known Member

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    Why everything in his life have to end up to messy? Him and Edward are perfect examples of mindset can change your life. One work hard and play his cards right and achieved everything he want. The other one think he can lives forever as someone plus one and now is fighting for scrap.

    All this publicity stunts make me wonder what does he want to achieve in these situations? Money, he can't be that desperate for money right, with all the jobs he took for the last 2 years. Fame, so people still remember his name so he can sell more tell all books. Either way he should stop and retire while people still respect him.
     
  9. mepps

    mepps Well-Known Member

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    He's been broke for years, and said as much in a New York Times interview a few years back.
    Someone who files for bankruptcy 3 times, is not good with money.
    This guy should be wealthy, with all of the opportunities, and access he's had over the decades.
    Surrounded by wealthy people who could have helped him with investments, instead of a free vacation room, and an endless wardrobe of ugly caftans.
    I don't know how this case will turn out, but I don't want to see anyone lose their home, especially at his age.
     
  10. Benn98

    Benn98 Well-Known Member

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    That's why I get so triggered when magazines and brands go on about how they want to court a youth clientele. Because it reminds me of how they game the youth not only by courting them as customers but also courting them as staff behind the scenes. I've literally heard my former boss say 'we'll be busy because X (full-time member of staff) is going on leave, let's hire an intern, or let's go with the posh lad because he's keen to get the experience, 'understands' the lifestyle, and don't really need the money'. Because to need money or God forbid expect to get paid fairly is apparently such an awful, tacky thing nowadays, lol. And so these kids are often blinded by the glitzy lifestyle, the clothing vouchers, the spa treatments, and meals on the house at hip eateries that they don't even realise they are being paid a pittance. Of course this system also keeps the young working-class but talented hopefuls out because they would actually need to get paid properly. Sad, I tell you!

    When ALT worked at Andy's I can't imagine he got paid much. In fact I don't even think he got paid much when he was at Vogue. it was all about the fringe benefits that gave the illusion that he was loaded. The real money editors make comes from consulting, side gigs and whatnot which he never had loads of when he was at Vogue. So I can see how keeping up the appearances on a low salary caught up with him. But he was also EIC at L'officiel who must've paid him lots. Or nots, lol, because I've heard they're terrible at paying people.

    All these years he had a friendship with Karl who jets him all over the world as though he was a kept woman, but he wasn't clever enough to create a long term, sustainable role for himself. And Karl was too egocentric to consider creating a job for ALT. It would really have been a win for both - ALT gets more money to pay his own way, Karl saves on always footing the bill. But it was all about appearances. I'm so glad we're in the era of 'hustle' and just overall kindness, where it's almost uncommon for someone to thrive while your friend is hardly getting by.

    This doesnt have to be the end of the line for ALT. Like someone else said, he's a walking/living fashion Wiki. And there are so many stylists and photographers who could do with some guidance. Hell, fashion writing is basically dead. With his wealth of knowledge he can easily build the next gen of fashion professionals.
     
  11. MyNameIs

    MyNameIs Well-Known Member

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    In general, he probably wants to keep his name out there in order to remain "relevant". He probably can't afford to retire while maintaining the over the top lifestyle he's used to.

    As for this specific situation, he probably wants to keep the house. Sounds like he's lived there for nearly two decades now. It must be hard being in your 70s and losing your home. And it sounds he wouldn't be able to get anything near as good.
     
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  12. Benn98

    Benn98 Well-Known Member

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    So a few days ago stylist Akeem Smith set up a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for ALT. When you read his post you can tell he did it with the best intentions!
    But it seems ALT's managers have since been in touch with Akeem and told him to end the campaign and return the money to everyone who donated (if you donated initially you would already have received your money back by now). Dunno if it's because ALT came to some arrangements with the landlords or just his fashion pride.
     
  13. Littleathquakes

    Littleathquakes Well-Known Member

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    I'd wager it's his pride. Or the simple fact that there's no paper trail so he's probably going to win, anyway. I mean win in terms of walking away without paying anything, the house is under their names so he definitely getting evicted.
     
  14. gunsnroses

    gunsnroses Active Member

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    ALT posted an update yesterday and said the gofundme was unnecessary. People still continued to contribute for hours after his post. I’m guessing that’s why it was deleted and refunded
     
  15. GivenchyAddict

    GivenchyAddict Well-Known Member

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    Thank god the gofundme is canceled. I would not give a dime to someone who had countless opportunities to make money and did nothing but being the industry's jester. ALT is the living 101 of "living extra without earning extra".
     
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  16. fakeawake

    fakeawake Well-Known Member

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    It's unbelievable to me he couldn't have bought a small apartment in palm beach and just kept it tucked away. Around all those rich people and didn't learn a thing about how they operate. All rich people have small apartments fully paid off in case they lose everything. Look at TInsley Mortimers mom - she's broke but has a gracious apartment in Palm Beach she bought when she had money. All she has to do is scrape up the HOA fees.

    I agree Andre basically flitted from paid for hotel to paid for hotel. Lodging was never really on his mind.

    If you've seen AbFab then this reminds me of Patsy's sister Jackie - who despite hanging out with the rich and famous ended up broke and destitute.
     
    #16 fakeawake, Mar 31, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2021
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  17. lucy92

    lucy92 Mod Squad Team Leader

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    If he needs cash he should sell some of his pieces to the Fashion Institute. I'm sure Andrew Bolton/The Met would be interested in looking at ALT's archives. Or even SCAD which ALT had an affiliation with should look into buying fashion from him.

    It's absurd and offensive that these people are crying poverty ensconced in such finery.

    I have sympathy for ALT based on his vast knowledge of art and fashion but he needs to live like the rest of us.
     
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