It cost a hefty $180,000 to restore the Astor Place cube, but you can have one of your own for just $30,000. Yes, it’s an original. But before you get too excited: it’s tiny. Up for grabs on eBay right now is a miniature version of Tony Rosenthal’s Alamo, created by the sculptor himself in 2007. It stands just 21” inches tall— but, hey, you can spin it. For that kind of money, one would hope so.
The mini cube, made of black enamel on aluminum and weighing in at about 30 pounds, is being sold by Joseph K. Levene. The dealer estimates it was one of no more than 10 miniatures that Rosenthal made over the years. As we’ve noted before, the sculptor created a handful of large cubes, including the one we stumbled on in Michigan. Other biggies have sold for a solid six figures to collectors like former Coach creative director Reed Krakoff (for his lawn in Southampton) and Martin Z. Margulies (after 16 years at the Florida International University, “Marty’s cube” moved to the Boca Raton Museum of Art). There’s even an orange-painted one, which sold for $25,000 in 2005.
Was Rosenthal some kind of Beautiful Mind-esque cube obsessive? Not exactly. After creating Alamo for Astor Place, “he moved on– but people liked the cube,” Levene told us. So Rosenthal kept making them. “But instead of recreating the same cube, he would alter it a bit.” Hence the golden miniature he made in 1968. In 2013, Mayor Bloomberg presented a brass miniature to his deputy mayor, Patricia E. Harris. Rosenthal’s widow still has a plywood maquette of what would eventually become the Astor cube– that could also be yours, for a price.
Levene told us that Rosenthal, who is best known for his public art, would be delighted to see that people are still spinning the Astor Place cube. And he’d be pleased to see this miniature on someone’s desk, too. “In the case of this piece you can actually do something to it,” Levene said, as he twirled it himself. “Although hopefully you won’t mutilate it.”
By the way, that $30,000 Buy It Now price is negotiable. And Levene also has some miniature Jeff Koons balloon sculptures for sale, if you want to complete the Astor Place suite.