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Malloy’s Mess

The Dennis Rivera giveaway has revealed just how far state leaders will go to satisfy a powerful labor leader, with George Pataki, Joe Bruno, and Shelly Silver delivering a billion-dollar bonanza to health care workers literally overnight. Had not a sudden shortfall in state revenues gotten in the way in the last couple of days, this trio was prepared to do much the same for teachers union boss Randi Weingarten.

This is the story of how Pataki and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer handled a thorny controversy involving the leader of the largest private-sector union in the state, Ed Malloy, the head of the 200,000-member Building Construction and Trades Council. Contrary to the Rivera and Weingarten cases, Spitzer and Pataki did nothing for Malloy that will benefit his union workers. It was all about aiding the married, 67-year-old Malloy’s traveling companion and apparent intimate friend, Christina Cox, a 49-year-old onetime Playboy bunny who’s executive director of a scandal-ridden, multimillion-dollar nonprofit that Malloy chairs. Spitzer’s office just reached a curiously compromised settlement with the organization, and the governor’s office tried, despite three criminal probes, to find a way to dump $2 million into what can only be described as a Malloy-run sinkhole.

The National Museum of Catholic Art and History, whose financial and, strangely enough, sexual history were detailed in a Voice series last June (“Beauty and the Big Shots”), has raised and spent $7 million in 11 years, but has yet to either open a museum or assemble an art collection. The stories charged that Cox and the museum’s ex-associate director sexually manipulated several powerful patrons of the museum—from Prince Albert of Monaco to Lee Iacocca to Malloy—and that Cox drained thousands of dollars out of museum coffers for her personal use. The charges sparked investigations by Spitzer, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and federal prosecutors.

Over the vigorous objections of lawyers for the Archdiocese of New York, the State Education Department nonetheless granted the museum, which is unconnected to the church, a five-year, provisional charter in July 1995. The group has been raising money without a charter since its license expired almost two years ago, just as it did for years prior to receiving one. Having recently left her elaborate East Harlem headquarters, complete with Jacuzzi and canopy bed, Cox now operates out of a trailer on East 115th Street, next to the former Catholic school that construction crews recruited by Malloy are converting into the long-promised museum. The listed phone numbers for the organization, which has already received $525,000 in government subsidies, no longer work.

Spitzer’s settlement requires Cox to repay the museum $86,328 that she took from it in 1999 “for personal expenses for travel, furnishings, and entertainment” that he found “improper.” As the Voice articles contended, these expenses ranged from multiple credit card purchases at Saks, Fortunoff, Lord & Taylor, Pier 1, Burlington Coat, Paramus Golf, and Theresa Wigs to $34,312 in her own home rent to $19,108 in non-salary checks she wrote to herself.

The settlement makes no mention of similar expenses—spelled out in documents submitted to the AG’s office—of $9374 in personal expenses in 1998, including two trips to Pinky Fine Nail. Nor does it refer to another $25,566 in questionable expenditures in 2000 flagged by the AG, including purchases at a second wig store, Tiffany Wigs, as well as $1900 in day-camp charges, presumably for Cox’s son.

Not only did Spitzer take no action about these expenditures, the settlement gave Cox four years to repay the 1999 funds, requiring that she “forego” $21,582 in “annual bonuses” she is due to receive under her current contract with the museum. Her contract provides for a $100,000 salary and $25,000 in performance bonuses. Though the museum previously gave her salary increases to cover her excessive personal expenses, the Spitzer accord says it cannot “raise, supplement, or otherwise directly or indirectly increase Ms. Cox’s regular annual salary” until she’s repaid the full amount. While the agreement says she can’t be subsequently compensated for these repayments either, it offers no clear-cut method of preventing that.

Well before the settlement, the museum board, under pressure from Spitzer and Morgenthau, established new cash control and reimbursement procedures, restricting credit and ATM card purchases. In resolutions passed last October, the board also created three new executive positions, including a managing director, who will theoretically report to Malloy and “share executive responsibilities” with Cox. The Spitzer releases salute these changes as reforms, though six months later none of the positions have been filled.

Howard Rubenstein, a spokesman for the museum, says that Arthur Rosenblatt, an architect and board member long associated with the project, will be named the unpaid managing director in the next 30 to 60 days. The museum’s outside accountant, who also does Malloy’s union books and signed off on Cox’s past gambits, will serve as the supposed controller. This transparent new management structure, as well as the changed expense procedures, are designed to appear to protect the organization from the predatory Cox, whom the board is apparently unwilling to fire no matter what the findings against her.

Malloy, who was the grand marshal at the Saint Patty’s Day Parade last year, and museum attorney Andrew Maloney personally negotiated the settlement with Spitzer’s office, meeting with the AG himself on February 13, and with top staff in the office on February 21. Two statewide Malloy PACs made $1000 contributions to Spitzer on January 11, while a local Malloy committee gave $1000 in 1999. Another Malloy entity donated $5000 to Pataki on November 30, 2001. Malloy, who’s taken Cox with him for repeated stays at Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, would not deny having “a sexual or romantic relationship” with the former model and beauty queen during an extended Voice interview, calling her “a very, very good friend.”

An internal memo prepared by Spitzer’s staff and obtained by the Voice indicates that as recently as January, “the governor’s office” was “considering making a substantial grant to the museum through the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). Malloy told the Voice last year that he was seeking $4 million from the governor’s office, allocated over a two-year period. The Spitzer memo reported that when ESDC contacted the AG’s office, they were told “the theoretical range of outcomes” of the probe.

“ESDC did not seem troubled,” concluded the memo, “by the prospect of the governor’s making a grant and our subsequently determining that the executive director received excessive compensation and improper expense reimbursements and should make restitution and/or be removed.” Rubenstein, the museum spokesman, now says that the grant will not be part of this year’s budget, though it’s unclear when it was deleted.

Having delayed a decision on the museum’s application for a charter renewal, the state ed department, according to museum director David Palmquist, is now “reviewing the AG’s settlement.” Palmquist declined to answer questions about whether the governor’s office or ESDC had made inquiries about the status of the charter review, but a decision to stall the state grants might, at least in part, be due to its still uncertain legal status. Palmquist explained that even though the charter lapsed in 2000, the museum remains “a legally incorporated body” and “would be eligible” to receive grants.

But the museum has yet to even answer a long overdue state questionnaire required of all charter applicants. Combined with the AG’s findings, that makes it an unlikely election-year recipient of Pataki largesse, though anything can happen after the November election. The last filing the museum did with the state was in August, handwritten by community college dropout Cox, conceding that the facility was still “close” [sic], but asking that the ed department “wait untill [sic] December 2001.” Like a decade of other false promises, this deadline too was missed.


Research assistance: Annachiara Danieli, Jen DiMascio, Jesse Goldstein, Lauren Johnston, Peter G.H. Madsen, Jess Wisloski

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Were Malloy’s Marks Illegal?

When Ed Malloy, leader of 200,000 unionized construction workers, was named grand marshal of this year’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, developers Donald Trump and Jack Rudin saluted him in a Post profile, with Trump calling him “one of the finest human beings you’ll ever meet.” Neither said a word about the favors they’d done for the man who also chairs the board of the National Museum of Catholic Art and History—a charity these two non-Catholics have supported generously, along with other developers who do substantial business with Malloy’s union.

Trump has welcomed Malloy at Mar a Lago, his Palm Beach resort, two or three times for several-day free stays, flying him, museum director Christina Cox, and sometimes others back on his personal plane. Malloy also asked the Rudin Organization to rent Cox an apartment in their building at 300 East 57th Street, where she lived for more than three years. The lease was with the museum, which paid at least half the $3100 monthly rent. Malloy conceded these events in a wide-ranging Voice interview, though museum officials say he actually went to Mar a Lago with Cox more often than that, where he apparently slept with the mesmerizing museum madonna.

The Florida trips—each of which was worth at least $10,000, based on prices obtained from Mar a Lago manager Bernd Lembcke—may well be a violation of federal labor laws for Trump and Malloy. They make it a crime for “any employer to pay, lend or deliver any money or other thing of value to any representative of any of his employees,” or for any labor official “to request, demand, receive, or accept anything of value.” The statute uses very broad terms to describe the business relationship, but some labor insiders contend it is only enforced when the employer and union leader have jointly signed a collective bargaining agreement (it’s unclear if Malloy and Trump have).

The Rudin rental would be a violation if it was not done “at the prevailing market price in the regular course of business.”

Labor leaders—at least one of whom was in the construction trades—have been prosecuted for taking a benefit, including ones for a girlfriend, from employers whose projects they have also helped to finance. Malloy boasted in the museum journal about his role in securing union financing for Trump’s project at 40 Wall Street, and told the Voice that he helped to steer $200 million into that project, as well as $13 million into Mar a Lago. He put no price tag on the union financing involved in another Trump project—his giant building near the United Nations—but he said he helped with that too. Almost all of the major contractors donating labor and materials to the renovation of the planned museum have also concurrently worked on Trump projects.

Malloy wasn’t the only museum trustee to play a pivotal role in the Trump financing. Bill Fugazy represents ULLICO—the United Labor Life Insurance Company, which is the investment arm of the construction unions—and he concedes he was the broker on all three of the Trump financings. Developers usually pay him a 1.5 percent fee for arranging such deals. Bob Georgine, the president of ULLICO and ex-head of the national construction unions, was the honoree of one museum dinner and loaned the museum $1 million. Fugazy also set up a meeting between Cardinal O’Connor and Trump to get the archdiocese to approve the sale of air rights over an Eastside church to Trump so that the developer could add stories to his controversial UN tower. Fugazy negotiated the terms of the sale with the archdiocesan real estate director, David Brown, a convicted felon, like Fugazy, who was pardoned by President Clinton in the final wave of pardons. Fugazy took the same path—O’Connor to Brown—to get approval of the museum’s move to his East Harlem site.

Malloy has repositioned his union—once seen as the state’s most conservative—by donating services to the Gay Men’s Health Center and to homeless organizations to aid renovation projects, as well as by endorsing Democrats like Hillary Clinton. The museum, Cox, and the Trump ties are the only known blots on a record that has many admirers.
24barrett2


Related articles by Wayne Barrett:

Part I: Beauty and the Big Shots: The Sexcapades and Politics Behind New York’s Bogus Catholic Museum

Part II: Dark Angels of a Bogus Catholic Museum: Felons, Wiseguys & Usual Suspects Back a Bizarre Charity

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Dark Angels of a Bogus Catholic Museum

Last September, an organization with a long name and a low profile suddenly made news. The National Museum of Catholic Art and History, a seemingly benign nonprofit that wanted to use an East Harlem park to host a fundraiser, was shaken down by Parks Commissioner Henry Stern for $20,000. Tabloid headlines charged Stern with requiring mandatory “contributions” like this one to a city foundation that he controlled.

The art museum balked, an outraged City Council Speaker Peter Vallone squawked, and strangely, an “anonymous donor” came up with the fee. The hubbub led to combustible City Council hearings that revealed that the Parks Department required sizable “donations” from 73 groups and corporations in 2000, diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars annually into the commissioner’s preferred park uses.

The controversy was the media debut for this previously obscure organization that has spent a decade raising $6 million—with another $5 million in the offing—for a museum that still doesn’t exist. A board of Catholic prominenti led by Al Smith IV, the great-grandson of New York’s first Catholic governor who hosts the annual archdiocesan dinner that even attracts presidents, and Ed Malloy, the president of the state’s 200,000-member construction work- ers union, has helped make the museum a high-priced cause célèbre. Vallone, for one, rarely misses its events, which have also attracted the likes of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

The buzz about Stern’s $20,000 demand helped generate a turnout of 700 guests and a gross of $1.2 million at the museum’s fundraiser. And the anonymous donor shed his cover in a day. William Fugazy, the 77-year-old ex-limo company magnate whose lobbying firm once employed Vallone’s brother-in-law, stepped forward. Mayor Giuliani had asked his old and tainted friend Fugazy to make the payment and settle the dispute. One of the museum’s most active trustees for at least seven years, Fugazy has long attached himself to Catholic causes, though this one is quietly shunned by the archdiocese.

Attorneys for Cardinal O’Connor tried unsuccessfully to persuade state officials to take the word Catholic out of the title of the organization—which is not affiliated with the church—when it was granted a charter in 1995. And sources say that the archdiocese remains, under Cardinal Edward Egan, upset about the misperception that the church is connected with what has turned out to be a rather exotic entrepreneurial adventure.

Exposed in last week’s Voice for gross financial irregularities and the sexual manipulation of several of its powerful patrons by executive director Christina Cox and ex-associate director Stephanie Parker (“Beauty and the Big Shots,”June 12), the museum has also been a magnet for the shadowy side of the church elite. It even operated out of Fugazy’s Madison Avenue office for most of 1996, moving shortly before he pled guilty in 1997 to a federal felony (a day that’s rarely mentioned by the gossip columnists on whose pages he frequently stars).

What the stories about his $20,000 “donation” also failed to note was that Fugazy, who had 122 judgments against him totaling $65 million and went bankrupt years ago, didn’t pay it himself. He got a nonprofit that he chairs—the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO)—to pay the fee.

Christina Walker, a top museum official who was talking to Stern’s aides at the time, said Fugazy insisted on making the payment “even though it was unnecessary” because she was negotiating it downward. Then a couple of months later, when the press went away, the museum quietly reimbursed NECO for $15,000. Fugazy, who told the Voice that he “always knew” he “was going to get the money back,” let the remaining $5000 debt cover the cost of his group’s table at the museum’s fundraiser.

Grandstanding is hardly the only form of flimflam in Fugazy’s history. Charged by the feds with “transferring assets” prior to filing bankruptcy, then lying under oath about the transfers, Fugazy pled to a perjury count, though he still claims he “committed no crime.” Fugazy’s recent pardon on the perjury conviction, according to the Daily News, was facilitated by a board member and major contributor to the Clinton presidential library. Prior to the bankruptcy, a federal judge in a civil lawsuit found that he’d done much the same thing—committing “serious misconduct” by concealing an asset “in direct, willful contradiction” of the law. A federal jury in a civil racketeering case found him guilty of four separate acts of fraud—wire, mail, bankruptcy, and securities.

The U.S. Attorney in New Jersey accused him of making $72,613 dollars in payments that were “plainly kickbacks,” but did not indict him (he says he appeared with immunity in the grand jury on the case, which did result in the conviction of a Fugazy business associate). Perhaps most importantly, Al D’Arco, one of the government’s top mob witnesses ever, testified in 1996 that he’d met Fugazy in the late ’60s and that Fugazy was “an associate of the Genovese crime family.” Fugazy denounces D’Arco, though an FBI supervisor said that “in thousands of hours of conversations with him, we have never caught him in a contradiction.”

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As peculiar a résumé as this might seem for a trustee of a Catholic museum, Fugazy actually fits right in. The museum is headquartered at the former Palma Boys Social Club on East 115th Street, where Fat Tony Salerno presided over the Genovese crime family, and federal bugs were planted that decimated the nation’s most powerful criminal enterprise. “If it wasn’t for me, there wouldn’t be no mob left,” Salerno was once heard to say from his lifelong clubhouse perch.

The art organization’s 10-year lease and purchase option on the vacant school across the street from its office—which a multi-million-dollar renovation is gradually turning into a museum—is with Our Lady of Mount Carmel. That’s the church where Salerno was buried in 1990, interrupting 100-year and 70-year sentences on separate federal racketeering convictions. Father Peter Rofrano—the priest whose Salerno eulogy revealed that “God walked with him”—brought the museum to East Harlem and sits on its board.

Fugazy first came to public prominence in 1960, when he and his partner, the legendary fixer Roy Cohn, bought out the boxing promoters Rosensohn Enterprises, which had produced the first heavyweight title fight between Ingemar Johansson and Floyd Patterson. The company was partially owned by Tony Salerno, and Fugazy and Cohn got the rights from it to promote the two multi-million-dollar return bouts. While Fugazy says he never knew Salerno, Cohn became Salerno’s lawyer, representing him for decades in a host of criminal cases.

Salerno’s Palma club lived on pasta from Rao’s, the famous Italian restaurant just around the corner on 114th Street. Currently owned by the nephews of Vincent Rao, a convicted money launderer for the mob, the restaurant caters the museum’s annual fundraiser (which is billed as “A Night at Rao’s”), and sends a jar of Rao’s famous sauce to every invitee. Rao, who ran the restaurant before turning it over to his nephews, was nailed in 1979 on charges that he laundered about $100,000 a week in loan-shark checks and cash through the restaurant books for heroin kingpin Ralph “the General” Tutino and Genovese underboss John “Buster” Ardito. “You’ll wind up in the East River,” Tutino said on a trial tape to one businessman who missed an interest payment.

A Rao nephew, Frank Pellegrino, who appeared in Goodfellas and The Sopranos, has given the 105-year-old restaurant its current mob chic aura, serving the likes of John Gotti and Paulie Castellano. Pellegrino appears on the cover of the museum’s glossy journal and was the honoree at one of its biggest fundraisers. Though the small restaurant’s exclusive 10 tables are literally “owned” by the powerbrokers and celebrities who regularly eat there, the restaurant gave one to the museum for weekly Tuesday use.

While the respected Pellegrino’s only known connections to the mob are through lineage and celluloid, FBI documents allege that his partner, Ron Straci, who is a labor lawyer, split a $500,000 kickback with Tony Salerno’s brother, Charles “Speed” Salerno,on the sale of a union building. The son of notorious mob capo Joseph “Joe Stretch” Straci, Ron Straci was also pictured in the museum’s glossy magazine, with his full-page, loving account of his Uncle Vince and the restaurant. The museum’s three journals have been filled with long-winded celebrations of the restaurant—also recounting the history of Italian East Harlem without ever mentioning the mob that once dominated the neighborhood or the Latino Catholics who actually live there now.

Another honoree was Ed Bergassi, who was also the chairman of its dinner committee and is one of its most involved board members. Bergassi was the bonding agent for Vincent Zollo, a construction contractor who was a business partner of John “Junior” Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family. Bergassi was overheard in 1996 on state organized crime wiretaps advising Zollo on how to beat probes of his company and Gotti ties, including attempts to get Zollo to donate to politicians who might prove helpful. Gotti Jr. listed himself as the controller of Zollo’s firm. Zollo, who was eventually charged with extortion and selling cocaine, pled guilty to racketeering and was sentenced to 46 months in prison.

When the New York Post reported Bergassi’s taped conversations in 1998, he stepped down as an unpaid commissioner on the State Insurance Fund. That’s also when he stepped up at the museum, and was featured in full-page bios in the 1999 and 2000 journals and praised for “achieving excellent fundraising goals to help the construction of the new museum.”

Another Bergassi client with problems, Frank Stubbolo, was also listed as a member of the museum board in its 2000 magazine and bought a $5000 table. Stubbolo and his brother, Ken, run a construction company that Newsday reports is the subject of an ongoing state-inspector-general probe. Though four insurance companies had already sued the Stubbolos for allegedly defrauding them, Bergassi managed to get them bonded to do a state university job. Major fundraisers for Governor Pataki and other Republicans, the Stubbolos won the $28 million contract over contractors with more experience and none of the bad debt, bankruptcy and misrepresentation history of the Stubbolos. In the end though, they were forced off the project by the state for shoddy work and unsafe conditions.

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Charged with threatening someone to collect a $10,000 debt in the mid ’80s, Ken Stubbolo pled guilty to criminal solicitation. The Manhattan and Nassau County district attorneys were reported last year to be probing the Stubbolos, whose records were subpoenaed.

The only honoree at the 1997 dinner (usually there are three) was Charles Uribe, a construction contractor who pled guilty on bribery charges in June 1998, and was celebrated again in a colorful, four-page tribute in the museum journal published that fall. The only reason Uribe wasn’t in jail at the time of the 1998 party was that he was too sick to be incarcerated. Uribe was fined $3.3 million as part of his guilty plea, and politicians like Vallone and Pataki scampered to return some of his many political contributions. But the museum kept its donations.

Structure Tone, the largest interior construction company in the city, pled guilty to bribery in the same case as Uribe, paid a $10 million fine and kept on giving to the museum in 1998 and 1999, It was singled out for special acknowledgement by the museum in its journal.

John Bowers, the head of the International Longshoremen’s Association, has also been a major donor to the museum, giving $20,600 to it and serving as an honoree at its 1994 Hilton dinner, long before the organization moved to East Harlem. Federal prosecutors named Bowers and 43 other union officials and mob figures, including Gotti and Salerno, in a 1990 civil racketeering suit.

While the suit attempted to connect Bowers to the planned murder of a union rival, it did not name as a defendant the international union he ran, instead focusing on several locals of the union that Bowers also directly oversaw.

The government ultimately settled the suit, apparently unable to prove its charges against Bowers, leaving him to run all but one of the New York locals originally named in the case. Other major leaders in the union—which has long been tied to the mob—were forced to resign.

Many of the labor and construction patrons of the museum were drawn to it by its influential board chair Ed Malloy, the president of the statewide Building & Construction Trades Council, the largest private sector union in New York. Malloy has also been able to convince contractors like Forest Electric—whose vendex forms with the city indicate that it is currently under investigation—to contribute labor and materials to the renovation project.

Developers Donald Trump, Jack Rudin, and Jerry Speyer—all of whom are major employers of Malloy’s members—became the three biggest donors to the museum. Last week’s Voice made the case that the married, 66-year-old Malloy had an affair with the single, 49-year-old Cox for years—a charge he did not deny during an extended interview. The relationship was so widely known that many of the museum’s benefactors may have given to it as a special favor to Malloy, aware of his alleged personal ties to Cox, who drew a $194,000 salary out of the museum in 1999, plus many personal perks. Cox came up with the idea of the museum in 1991 and spent years pursuing “angels,” as she called them, who could raise the money to sustain her operation, discovering Malloy in 1994.

Malloy became so intertwined with the people around the museum that he is now one of four directors of Novex, a new concrete supply company run by Daniel Dowe, a museum trustee before Malloy, who once acted as its counsel. Novex’s SEC filings indicate that the publicly traded company was already under investigation by the Securities & Exchange Commission in January 1998 when Malloy joined it, shortly after Dowe became CEO. Malloy was given stock options on 255,316 shares of the company, which is apparently still under SEC scrutiny. Noting that its concrete formulas were being sold to “construction managers, contractors,” and others, Novex’s disclosure statements said Malloy was brought on because of his “extensive level of contacts and industry experience,” making this the first known suspect business relationship born at the museum.

Cox was so enthralled with her “angel” museum patrons, according to its longtime development director Christina Walker, that she decided to try to immortalize them. “She recently had a 10-foot portrait of the Last Supper painted by a Long Island artist,” says Walker. “Everything was done except the faces of the apostles. She wanted the faces of the museum’s top benefactors painted into the portrait, and then she wanted to put it in the museum. She wanted Trump and Malloy and Fugazy all depicted as apostles. I kept asking her who would be Judas.”

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Not only is Cox’s museum tarred by this litany of tawdry associations, she and her mother and brothers got a $375,000 mortgage in 1999 for a new home in Mahwah, New Jersey, from PMCC, a small Long Island company, whose president was indicted by federal prosecutors. Cox rejected Voice requests for an interview, so it’s unclear how she wound up using this firm.

With this gang at the helm, it’s hardly surprising that the museum is awash in scandal. Last week’s article detailed the galling use of museum money Cox has made to subsidize her personal life—everything from her cleaning lady to wigs and hairdressers. It also described a half-dozen alleged intimate relationships that Cox and associate director Stephanie Parker had with benefactors of the museum. Here’s a sample of additional charges:

•  For at least two years, the museum has been soliciting small donors to give to the museum’s Angel Wall of Honor. Among other benefits of the donation, each giver’s one-page account of his/her own experience with angels would be recorded for posterity on a computer. “When you visit the museum,” read one solicitation, “you will be able to view your name on the Angel Wall of Honor as well as look up your certificate, photograph, and angel story on the computer.” Last year, around Christmas, the museum bought ads in Catholic newspapers for the wall. Not only is there no wall, there are no computers or Web sites.

•  Walker and another staff member went to Cox to complain—one even reminding her of the mail fraud statutes—but Cox continued pursuing her angel fetish. Walker says the museum spent thousands on a painting of a look-alike blond angel that Cox personally commissioned. The wall idea was borrowed from the Ellis Island Wall of Honor, which Fugazy helped to create when he chaired the Statue of Liberty Bicentennial Committee in 1986. Fugazy met Cox then and introduced her to Lee Iacocca, the auto magnate who dubbed her the “Miss Liberty” queen without a pageant.

•  In an extended interview with the Voice, Malloy contended that the museum was audited by the IRS in 2000 and that no wrongdoing was uncovered. The IRS will not comment on an audit, but the museum’s accountant, Barrie Abrams, wrote a letter to the agency on March 30, 2000, claiming that “all files, administrative and financial, were destroyed” in a May 8, 1999, fire at the museum’s headquarters. Walker, who joined the museum right after the fire, disputes the claim: “I sure didn’t see any files that were destroyed. The files smelled of smoke. I used the files for two years after the fire, and Christina never told me, ‘Oh, that was lost in the fire.’ The IRS was looking for documentation that was either not ever kept by the museum or that they were hiding.”

The fire report indicates that it was “man-made fabric or fiber” that ignited the fire—not paper, which is also a choice on the same form—and that the damage was limited to between 16 percent to 49 percent of “the room or area of origin.” At the time of the fire, museum officials told the Daily News how the museum had been miraculously saved from the worst of the fire, recounting that a double layer of Sheetrock was put up just days before. With the office then located in the church rectory, the museum was paid $126,886 on an insurance claim, though Walker, Angela Marmo, and other staffers at the time dispute that the damage to a few loose art works was that severe.

Abrams, who is also Malloy’s union accountant, has cautioned in his financial statements that the museum “has a significant net deficiency that raises substantial doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern.”

•  The museum’s five-year provisional charter, granted by the State Education Department and the Board of Regents, expired in July 2000. Though the charter provides that the museum had to apply for either another five-year extension or an absolute charter before the date of expiration, it didn’t get around to applying until August. Though the sole state requirement of a chartered museum is to file annual reports, the museum missed virtually every filing, turning them in retroactively to try to gain a renewal after the five years were up.

Though the museum promised by letter to respond in January to an already overdue detailed state questionnaire, it has yet to do so, dragging the renewal process out for almost a year.

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David Palmquist, who runs the state’s museum bureau, came to New York in the summer of 2000 and went looking for the museum. “I went to its old address at Rockefeller Center,” says Palmquist, unaware that the museum had actually been forced to leave its store directly across the street from St. Patrick’s way back in 1997. “Then I heard it was in a church in the West eighties or nineties and went there. Finally I found it in East Harlem. Part of the reason I went was because they hadn’t filed for years—which is rare.” Palmquist only saw the first and second stories of the museum office (it has two more floors in the old Salerno townhouse, where they moved after the rectory fire).

When the department approved the initial charter, it brushed aside objections from the archdiocese, ruling that the church “had no copyright” on the use of the word Catholic. Subsequent events have confirmed Cardinal O’Connor’s worst fears—the museum has used its name as false advertising, reaping millions from confusion about its connections to the church. For a while, its Rock Center store even directly competed with church sales of religious items. State officials will soon have a second shot at redressing that wrong.


Research: Dasun Allah, Greg Bensinger, Brian Bernbaum, Rebecca Center, Robbie Chaplick, Douglas Gillison, Jesse Goldstein, Mark Rendeiro, Theodore Ross


Related articles by Wayne Barrett:

Part I: Beauty and the Big Shots: The Sexcapades and Politics Behind New York’s Bogus Catholic Museum

Were Malloy’s Marks Illegal?: Labor Leader and Museum Madonna Take Trump Freebies

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Beauty and the Big Shots

The white canopy bed was covered with heart-shaped pink pillows and wide-eyed blond dolls, one nearly four feet long. Hidden under a pink spread and dust-ruffle, the bed was surrounded by closets with full-length mirrors on either side, a man-sized armoire at the foot, and a triple-drawer dresser—all as matching white as the headboard. A curtain rod extended across the front of the room, with a sheer (also white) fabric draped over it that extended to the floor and was decorated with roses, vines, and twinkling lights.

The only indication that the oblong East Harlem loft might be the top floor of the offices of the three-story National Museum of Catholic Art and History was the abundant collection of nun dolls—some bought on the Home Shopping Network. On the floor below the loft—connected by a wrought-iron spiral staircase—was a dining area with a perpetually polished table, brass chandelier, two white couches, a pink-and-white lounge chair and hassock, an antique desk, grandfather clock, and huge arrangements of artificial flowers, rhinestones, crystals, and grapes. Off the dining room was a black Jacuzzi decorated with simmering candles, gold-plated soap dishes, and kitsch angel figurines.

Most of the townhouse extravagance—excluding the Jacuzzi—had been paid for with organization funds raised by the millions in the name of a museum that claims to be the nation’s sole repository of sacred Catholic art. But after 10 years of fundraising, there is no museum, next to no art, and nothing but suspicion about the project from the official Catholic world. The real business of this nonprofit’s half dozen or more employees is finding even more money—the focus of everything that happens on the only floor of its headquarters that has always resembled an ordinary office.

In the last year or so, many of the group’s fanciest furnishings have been carted off to the new $529,000 Jersey home of the museum’s director, Christina Cox. A 49-year-old, very blond former model, actress, stewardess, and beauty queen, Cox says she got the idea to create the museum on a cathartic 1990 visit to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. A Rockland Community College dropout with one year of art-sales experience on a résumé whose high point was an appearance in a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous episode about the girls of Cannes, Cox has made her living ever since on the museum’s tab. She survived some lean years, but drew a $194,000 salary from it in 1999, according to its latest filing with state agencies.

Still left in the organization’s 416 East 115th Street townhouse—which, ironically, was once the headquarters of Genovese crime family boss Fat Tony Salerno—are the red-velvet-framed photos of a beaming Cox with the then president and the pope, as well as her favorite cardinal and favorite crook. The priestly photos are intended to lend credence to the false notion that the project has been blessed by Pope John Paul II and Cardinal O’Connor. The snapshots of Bill Clinton and Bill Fugazy, a felon the former president pardoned who helped found the museum and sits on its board, are a truer picture of its real sources of support.

However, a photo of Cox in her Playboy Bunny outfit—a career stop unmentioned in her résumé—stays in the dresser drawer, shown off to museum insiders only after they get to know her. This piece of her history should come as no surprise. Sex has long been a museum selling point, attracting patrons and confounding clergy.

A painting by Penthouse owner Bob Guccione, for example, was once exhibited at a museum-connected show in the very offices of the Archdiocese of New York, much to the dismay of priests who saw the leather-clad pornographer and his cleavage-baring, flashbulb-popping entourage swoop into their First Avenue enclave. Indeed, a half dozen men who have reputedly dated the never married Cox or her onetime associate director, Stephanie Parker, have also been benefactors of this fantasy art museum, making it more a symbol of allure than altruism, of connections than collections.

Trading on its name as if it were a religious institution, the museum, whose 1995 provisional state charter was opposed by the archdiocese and expired almost a year ago, has become a magnet to the pandering powerful. Clinton attended the museum’s last fundraiser in March at the Friar’s Club—fresh from the White House and schmoozing with trustee Fugazy. Hillary Clinton appeared at its giant September 2000 dinner to say hello to Ed Malloy, the Building and Construction Trades Council leader who endorsed her in the Senate race, runs the state’s largest private-sector union, and chairs the museum’s board.

Malloy says that he’s asked George Pataki, who is now courting his 200,000-member statewide organization just as Hillary did last year, for $4 million for the museum over the next two years. City Council Speaker Peter Vallone has given it $165,000 in council add-ons since 1997, with another $100,000 in this year’s budget. Charlie Rangel helped get a $260,000 Empowerment Zone grant, and Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields has put up another $150,000 in the upcoming budget. Vallone, Rangel, and Fields have attended museum events, with mayoral candidate Vallone emerging as its most attentive public champion. Malloy also extracted an $800,000 capital commitment for the museum from top Giuliani deputies for next year, but he says that now appears to be on the back burner.

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The Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO), a Washington-based fund for Malloy’s national union, has already loaned it $1 million. Even before the ULLICO loan, a museum summary claimed that Malloy, Fugazy, and Donald Trump had raised more than $1 million for it. In addition, Malloy has persuaded several major contractors and unions to participate without compensation in the renovation of a closed Catholic school in East Harlem, converting it into the museum’s site—an ongoing project that has already attracted millions in donated services. With last year’s major fundraiser garnering $1.2 million in corporate and individual donations, the museum’s cash and in-kind total receipts exceed $6 million, according to sources familiar with its books.

Cox is also now reaching out to the Bush administration. Though she used to display a photo of herself greeting Al Gore at an airport, she’s gone down to Washington twice in recent months—for George W.’s inaugural week in January and again in May for the Presidential Gala of the Republican National Committee. The gala invitation listed her as a deputy chair, meaning she was supposed to raise $100,000 of the $23 million in GOP booty collected at the event. Her four-day stay in January was largely paid for by the museum, as was at least part of the cost associated with her overnight stay at the Ritz Carlton for the gala. In between these two trips, she took her son, sister, and two staffers to Rome—on the museum’s tab—for the February elevation of Cardinal Edward Egan.

The trips and the furniture are part of a pattern of personal expenses billed to the museum. Four former employees who, combined, cover virtually the entire history of the museum—Parker, Angela Marmo, Larissa Van Duser, and former director of development Christina Walker—have detailed a decade of abuse. Walker, who joined the museum in 1999 and raised millions before leaving this March, was so disturbed by the recklessness of Cox’s personal expenditures that she went to Malloy and other board members about it.

“Cox charged her dresses, other clothing, makeup, and jewelry to the museum,” Walker says, “often using the ATM card at Lord & Taylor, Saks, and Dress Barn. She spent thousands for wigs at a store called Tiffany’s. She bought furniture for her new home in Jersey, and had some of the furnishings in the office sent there. She’d come to the office with shopping bags filled with towels, sheets, curtains—and take much of it home. She spent thousands on Christmas ornaments—including $600 Santa Clauses—that disappeared from the office. She paid for groceries at the A&P near her house and frequent meals at the Macaroni Grill in Jersey too.

“Before she moved to Jersey, the museum paid her $3000-plus-a-month rent on her eastside apartment, as well as her cleaning lady, and other home expenses. The museum paid for her Jeep Cherokee—lease, insurance, gas and E-ZPass. When she went to the Bush inaugural, I had to co-sign a $5000 check to her to cover her expenses. When she called back two days later for $1500 more, the bookkeeper told me it was to cover the ticket for the Boots & Black Tie party of the Republican committee, and I had to sign over another check.”

Cox’s personal expenditures were so high in 1999 that, Malloy concedes, an “adjustment” was made in her salary to cover some of them, raising it from the budgeted $85,000 to $194,000. “Of course when her salary shot up so much, she had to pay much higher taxes,” Walker remembers. “So the museum paid her additional taxes.” Records obtained by the Voice also show that the lease for an apartment where Cox once lived, at 150 East 56th Street, named the museum as the tenant, and a museum financial statement listed the tuition that this single mom paid for her son’s Catholic school as an organizational “donation.”

Van Duser, who was Cox’s top aide from 1995 through 1997 and is now on a Fugazy payroll, wrote a letter to Cox in November 1997 charging that “museum funds have paid your rent, your son’s tuition, and you have taken ATM cash withdrawals and other pay-outs.” Van Duser ran the museum’s midtown store during this period—when it was temporarily selling hundreds of thousands of dollars in religious items. She charged that Cox had “informed the staff that I am not to see the daily sales record—a journal that I set up and which I used to compile the quarterly sales figures [for taxpaying purposes]. I can only surmise that you have matters to hide from me.”

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When Van Duser—who is married to a lawyer—threatened to sue for $45,000 in unpaid wages, she was offered a job by Fugazy. Criticized by Malloy for “a history of filing lawsuits against employers,” Van Duser, who runs a Fugazy nonprofit now and filed one lien a decade ago against a company she’d worked for as a consultant, would not comment for this article.

Walker adds that the museum ran another store on First Avenue in East Harlem from fall of 1999 through spring of 2000, and while it hardly earned what the one in midtown had, “there were no cash deposits made in the museum’s accounts from the store.” Walker and Marmo, who ran the store, say the cash proceeds were simply turned over “in an envelope on a regular basis” to Cox. The staff, rent, and inventory costs were all paid by the museum, and Marmo estimated sales—particularly at Christmas and Easter—in the tens of thousands. The organization’s financial statements over the years list state sales tax payments that are consistently less than what is due on reported sales, and Walker, Marmo, and the Van Duser letter suggest that all sales may not have been reported.

Without denying any of the specific personal expenses cited by the Voice, Malloy acknowledges that many were simply added to her salary. Malloy’s explanation for the elaborate townhouse furnishings is that “the intent was that Cox would live up there,” though he concedes the organization was also paying for her apartment. Malloy says some of the elaborate furnishings “are in storage and some are still at the museum,” but he did not deny that others wound up in Cox’s Jersey home.

Malloy also points out that Cox was paid $125,000 in 2000 and that, if her salary were averaged out over the past six years, she would have made only a reasonable $72,000 a year. But this analysis ignores thousands in “deferred compensation” paid her—as much as $78,483 in 1998 alone—as well as the fact that her many personal expenses were not added to her salary prior to 1999.

In addition, Parker, Walker, and Marmo, supported by several other sources who asked not to be identified, have leveled a variety of sexual allegations at Cox and museum backers. The charges start with an admission. In the early days of the museum, Parker says she got Prince Albert of Monaco to allow the use of his name as an honorary trustee during a prolonged affair with him in the early ’90s. The relationship is extensively described in a 1998 book, The Royal House of Monaco, published by St. Martin’s Press—including a description of a four-day skinny-dipping trip to Texas taken by Albert, Parker, and Cox.

Parker also says she convinced a millionaire businessman she was dating, Arthur Altschul, to give $5000 to the museum through a small foundation he controlled, the Overbrook Foundation. The 1993 grant, which is listed on museum financial statements, helped finance a Cox and Parker trip to Rome. Informed of Parker’s recollections, neither Altschul nor the prince responded. The minutes of a 1993 museum board meeting contain a discussion of attempts to hold a fundraiser at Altschul’s or Guccione’s home.

Parker, who shared her apartment with Cox in 1994, says she was introduced to Cox two years earlier by a businessman “boyfriend” of Parker’s who contributes to the museum to this day. Cox allegedly drew her into the museum effort, persuaded her to pay for thousands in museum-related expenses, and encouraged her to get support for herself and the museum from “generous playboys” that the swinger Parker freely admits she knew. Though Parker concedes that she hardly needed encouragement, she says Cox “would dangle me in front of men, put me out there” as part of the effort to win patrons for the museum.

Museum trustees Malloy, Xenophon Galinas, Ed McGuinn, and Lee Iacocca have allegedly had intimate relationships with Cox, according to Parker and, in some cases, a variety of sources. All but Malloy have denied it. Asked if he’d ever had “a romantic or sexual relationship” with Cox, Malloy declined to answer. “She’s a very, very good friend” who’s done “a great job” with the museum, he said. When the Voice asked Malloy if Cox had relationships with the other trustees, he said he didn’t know.

Cox refused, through a spokesman and during a brief phone conversation, to talk to the Voice, ascribing the allegations to “disgruntled employees out to get me.” Parker is the only one of the ex-employees who has a pending action against the museum—seeking $100,000 in back pay and damages.

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Each of the four trustees reputedly tied to Cox has played a pivotal role at one point or another in the evolution of the museum. None has been more important than the married Malloy, whose frequent visits with Cox to the legendary loft bedroom were off-limits to staff, according to Walker, Marmo, and others who worked at the townhouse. While a half dozen museum sources have described the longtime personal ties between the two, Walker offered the clearest proof.

A seasoned nonprofit professional who talked to the Voice only because of her deep concern about Cox’s misconduct, Walker traveled in February 2000 to Mar-A-Lago, the Palm Beach resort estate owned by Trump, with Cox and her then 10-year-old son, Patrick. “We saw Eddie in Miami first and had dinner with him and some construction guys,” says Walker. “Then we went ahead to Mar-A-Lago and stayed in a beautiful, two-bedroom cottage. When Eddie got there the next day, Patrick moved out of Christina’s bedroom and into mine. Eddie and Christina stayed together in the same room. We stayed there four days or so and flew back on Trump’s plane.

“They said they’d been there several times before. The staff seemed to know them very well and referred to Christina as Mrs. Malloy. Trump even joined the four of us for a meal. Everything was paid for by Trump, except our airfare down, our hotel room in Miami, and a few incidentals, which were paid for by the museum.”

Malloy acknowledges that Cox and he made “two or three” joint visits to Mar-A-Lago. Asked if he and Cox slept in the same room, he said, “I’m not going to comment on that.” Malloy confirms that the Trump stay was gratis and justifies the museum expenditure by noting that Cox, her son, and Walker visited the nearby Norton Museum that had a Vatican exhibit. (Walker says this is untrue.) Malloy, who is such a church pillar that he was grand marshal of this year’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, has, by his own account, helped steer $200 million in union loans into Trump projects in New York, plus $13 million for the renovation of Mar-A-Lago.

Not all the sex charges, however, are so straight. Angela Marmo, a lesbian and convicted drug addict who worked as the museum’s assistant registrar for two years, filed a State Human Rights Commission complaint in April alleging that Cox “suggested that I should approach potential patrons and contributors, mainly women, with the purpose of becoming sexually involved with them” to aid the museum. Marmo also charged that Cox reprimanded her for holding her girlfriend’s hand while walking in the neighborhood on her own time, claiming she “was representing the museum 24 hours a day” and setting “a bad example.” The complaint was dismissed 10 days later because there were “no witnesses” to corroborate the allegations, according to the commission.

A letter withdrawing the complaint was subsequently submitted to the agency, though Marmo says her signature on the document was forged. Marmo, who stated in her complaint that she “has feared for her personal safety” because of her conflict with the museum, talked to the Voice in on-the-record interviews in April. Among her charges, Marmo said Cox wrote $15,000 in museum expense checks to her that she cashed, turning most of the money over to Cox.

Confronted about her complaint and Voice conversations by Cox and others tied to the museum, Marmo called shortly before publication to declare, “You can quote me about everything I said to you, but I’m going to deny it.” While Malloy ridicules Marmo’s credibility now—calling her statements “blatant lies”—Cox once had so much confidence in her that she regularly trusted her and her sister to baby-sit Patrick.

Before Marmo’s reversal, a museum board member affiliated with the East Harlem church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, hired her to clean the church and bingo hall and paid two months of back rent on her apartment. Having lived all her life on the same block as the church that is renting the school site to the museum with an option to buy, Marmo said she was acceding to relentless pressure from neighborhood supporters of the project.


When Christina Cox announced the launch of the museum on June 16, 1992, her public relations consultant, Don Softness, helped engineer a Periscope item in Newsweek heralding the supposed $50 million campaign “to create the first Catholic museum in the U.S.” Just about everything in the story was spin.

Underneath a picture of Cox at Saint Patrick’s was the caption “with the pope’s blessing,” a claim the Vatican’s press office could find no record of (though a photo of her May 20, 1992, blessing shows her standing in a line of hundreds at Saint Peter’s, clutching papers in her hand). The Vatican Museum supposedly pledged to loan art works for a special “pope’s gallery”—an assertion, Cox would later say, that resulted in a commitment to make 72 sculptures available. But Vatican Museum administrator Francesco Riccardi told the Voice that all it has ever done is to make “modest” sales of “museum-related merchandise” to Cox, which it does to “many museum stores throughout the world.” When Cox and company went to Rome this February, the Vatican Museum refused to meet with her and her staff.

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Newsweek also pinned a medal of support on Cardinal O’Connor, saying that “because of Cox’s vision,” he now stood to “gain an unlikely new title: patron of the arts.” In fact, O’Connor had written a letter to Cox saying he thought “such an institution would serve a valuable service.” But the letter wasn’t the “endorsement” Cox’s press release said it was. O’Connor warned that it might be “difficult to finance such a project without severely impacting other works of the Church,” a concern that the Voice has learned gnaws at church leaders to this day.

The press packet announcing the museum start-up contained Cox’s ironic bio—calling her a “devoted Catholic” who had “attracted the attention of Robin Leach” at Cannes, modeled in London and Rome for the Jeffrey Wooten and International Models agencies, and had a bit part in Cannonball Run II. The release also celebrated the role Lee Iacocca was to play as honorary chairman of the museum’s board. He was the first of several allegedly “intimate” Cox friends associated with the museum.

Iacocca had known Cox since at least 1986, when he was chairing the Statue of Liberty Foundation and his close friend Fugazy was heading up a similar state bicentennial committee. Cox was dubbed Miss Liberty by the bicentennial committees and parlayed it into a succession of scantily clad appearances she embellished into a mini-showbiz career that lasted years.

Cox’s bio makes dubious claims about her marching as “queen” of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and doing a world tour for the U.S. Information Agency. What she clearly did during her Miss Liberty reign was get to know Iacocca. Consultant Softness recalls his own conversations with Cox at the time of the museum launch: “Christina said she knew Iacocca very well for a long period of time and that he wanted to marry her, but she rejected him. He courted her. She is very, very beautiful, so it was not hard to believe. I believed her.” Another Cox friend in the early ’90s, a retired salesman named Mac Johnson, who baby-sat for her and volunteered for the museum, says, “She claimed she had dated Iacocca and balked at the condition that he didn’t want any more kids.”

Though Cox has told Parker, Walker, and many others close to her over the years about her Iacocca relationship (and her trips in the ’90s to see him), the thrice-married millionaire responded through a spokeswoman that he and Cox merely “passed in the night” and that there was nothing “romantic” between them. He said he agreed to allow her to use his name as an honorary trustee for a year or so, but that he had no involvement with the museum.

Cox began fundraising for the museum in the name of the American Spirit Foundation, a nonprofit she’d formed in 1986, ostensibly to assist her Miss Liberty stint. ASF’s incorporation papers made no reference to a museum among its long list of patriotic purposes. Nor was it chartered to raise funds for a museum, which state officials say it must be.

ASF was approved by the IRS as a tax-exempt organization in 1990, but it has filed the required disclosure forms in only two of its 10 years. The state attorney general’s office wrote the organization a letter as recently as March 2000, noting that it had missed the last five years of filings—completing a decade of virtually total noncompliance with state disclosure requirements. Yet in a May 1995 New York Observer article, Cox claimed the organization had already raised over $300,000.

Its first three years were a blur of bizarre events. That March, Parker and Cox flew to the Kentucky Derby, where ASF participated in an exhibit of Leroy Nieman’s equine art, bringing home $21,500 as its share on the sale of a Nieman print. The ASF press release pointed out how Nieman’s rise to fame started at Playboy in 1954, and Nieman told the Voice, “I probably knew Christina when she was a bunny. That’s what was cited when she first called me about the museum.” Parker alleged later in a letter to the museum board that the Nieman commission “was used to satisfy the personal debts of Miss Cox.”

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In August 1993, Parker took Cox to Monte Carlo to meet Prince Albert, the legendary playboy son of Princess Grace. Investment banker Ed McGuinn, a member of the museum’s board who had played a key role in organizing a 1992 Hudson River Club fundraiser for it, made the trip too, together with another banker who had dated Parker and was listed as a museum supporter on a fundraising invitation. “I knew that Ed had visited her alone in her apartment,” says Parker. “Christina had made overtures that they were together. She and I had a room at the hotel and so did the two guys. I didn’t pay too much attention to what they were doing, but I had a couple of liaisons with my friend. They left without paying the bill and we called Ed and he eventually sent the money.”

McGuinn says he “can’t remember” if he ever visited Cox alone in her eastside apartment, but he adamantly denies any intimate relationship with her. He says he went to Monaco to attend the Red Cross Ball “as a business opportunity” when Cox told him she could arrange a meeting with the prince. McGuinn, who left the museum board a year later, denies paying the bill. Informed of the allegations, the banker who accompanied him declined to answer any questions about the trip.

Cox and Parker went to Texas right after Monaco for several days of wild partying at a friend’s ranch. Parker was quoted in the book that later appeared about the royal family as saying that Cox “was uncomfortable around all the nudity” she, the prince, and the other partygoers engaged in at the pool. “She was acting very shy and prudish,” Parker said then.

Parker adds now that it was “the open swinging” that bothered Cox, that Cox is a “one-on-one person,” and that Cox did have a “few hours alone with the prince” at one point during the week, though Parker has “no idea what happened.” In any event, Cox and Parker began listing the prince as an honorary trustee of the museum, and even after the Princess Grace Foundation insisted that his name be taken off museum letterhead, Cox stayed in touch. As recently as December 1999, she spent museum funds on a high-priced golf club for Albert and sent it to him. Malloy says Cox sent the putter “after a museum function that the prince participated in,” though he could not say what event it was.

By December, the traveling duo had hit the road again, headed for Rome to see the pope. This time, unlike Cox’s visit in 1992, a board member from Italy with connections at the Saint Peter’s Basilica slipped them through a side door ahead of the line. Cox actually appeared before the pontiff in a Kentucky Derby T-shirt, partially covered by a jacket.

They’d had to rush from the hotel when the board member called. Cox carried a copy of the proposal, Parker recalls, and asked the pope to bless it. He made the sign of the cross, as he would again and again, for “the hundreds and hundreds of people” Parker could see in the line behind her.

Operating up to then from Cox’s eastside apartment—which financial statements indicate was paid for by ASF—the museum finally found office space at Olympic Towers in the spring of 1994. According to Parker, Cox started dating Xenophon Galinas, manager of the Towers, “around the same time as he decided to give us the space pro bono.” Single and living in the Towers, Galinas, who joined the museum board, was a frequent visitor to its 6000-square-foot, two-room office on the 12th floor, and Cox was a periodic visitor at his apartment.

“She said she slept in his apartment,” Parker recalls. “She forgot her earrings there once. She dated him for a few months.” He even made a pitch for Parker, she says, aggravating Cox, who then convinced Galinas to set Parker up with a friend of his. Galinas, who asked if Voice questions about his ties to Cox were “a joke” and hung up, rented ground-floor space to the organization in 1995 for the first museum store, located across the street from Saint Patrick’s.

When Galinas later married someone else, Parker and Cox went to the wedding. Cox came with her new friend, Eddie Malloy. By then, says Parker, “the word was out that we were with everyone” associated with the museum, identifying two other board members who dated Cox and will go unnamed in this story. Parker says she and Cox seemed so available that a prominent and single lawyer, Jim Hallisey, who represented Catholic Charities and was an active member of the museum’s board, suddenly suggested taking the two of them to a French villa, “popping the question out of the blue.” Having never dated either, Hallisey, who is now dead, actually showed them drawings of the villa, pinpointing where he, two of his friends, Parker, and Cox would stay. “We declined,” says Parker, and Hallisey soon left the board.

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The turning point for the museum, however, was the night in 1994 when Parker and Cox met Eddie Malloy. The 66-year-old father of two and grandfather of seven, Malloy was at an all-male dinner of the Friendly Sons of Ireland at the Sheraton Hotel, an event Parker and Cox had decided to visit in hopes of meeting museum patrons. “We went to the bar in the hotel,” says Parker. “We were either wearing business suits or long gowns. We timed it so we knew when they’d be coming down. They outnumbered us about 400 to 2. We noticed that this one guy was the center of attention in the bar conversation. We were brought into their circle and started talking about the museum. We talked for a couple of hours and went home. We felt like it was a successful night.”

Cox then started calling Malloy and finally Parker fielded a return call. “I kept giving her the high sign. I said ‘Do something with him.’ I was thrilled,” says Parker. The organization was so broke by then that Cox was facing eviction from her museum-subsidized apartment, moving in that summer with Parker and bringing her son. Working and living together, Parker witnessed firsthand the evolution of Malloy’s relationship with Cox.

“It took off pretty quickly,” Parker recalls. “He would pick her up at the apartment around dinnertime at least twice a week. They would talk constantly. I can’t remember her exact words, but it was clear they were intimate.”

That September—three or four months after Cox moved in—she got her East 56th Street apartment. Parker, who wrote Malloy a letter this January alleging that Cox secured the $23,094-a-year apartment “under your patronage,” says that Cox couldn’t even pay a share of her phone bill at the time. While Parker recalls that Malloy helped Cox find the $3990 down payment, $1495 of which was paid in cash, Malloy denies it.

Malloy concedes that a year later he “asked the Rudin Organization” to give Cox another apartment—larger and fancier—at 300 East 57th Street. She lived for more than three years in the apartment that Malloy had secured from a major developer who does business with his union. Just as with the 56th Street rental, the lease for the Rudin apartment was in the museum’s name, according to Malloy. He says art “was stored there,” contending that the museum paid only half the $3100 monthly rent.

However, the organization’s financial statements for that period list no art assets and take no depreciation. Every museum source who has talked to the Voice says the organization has very little art. While the Voice was unable to obtain the 57th Street lease, the one for 56th Street specified in its first sentence that the apartment “must only be used as a primary residence.”

Within four months of meeting Cox, Malloy was the first name on the museum’s four-page invitee list for a July 1994 fundraiser. He was one of three honorees at its September gala at the Hilton. That fall, he personally put together the first application for a charter for the museum, dumping ASF as the vehicle and seek

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Girls & Boys Together

Better Than Chocolate: as in “Your love is…,” as in the Quik-secreting Sarah McLachlan ballad. The namesake film is an amiable, scatterbrained tale that emits enough patchouli-tinged sisterly warmth to aromatize several Lilith Fairs, but all the sapphic good vibrations may induce nausea even in attendees familiar with such sticky, syrupy coming-out herstories.

Nineteen-year-old Maggie (Karyn Dwyer) has just dropped out of college and fallen into love with portrait artist Kim (Christina Cox) when Mom, freshly dumped by her second husband, announces she’s moving into her daughter’s flat with Maggie’s doofus brother in tow. Not just clueless about her little girl’s sexuality, Mom (Wendy Crewson) also seems unclear on what year it is, and the movie’s level of
subtlety can be gauged by its illustration of her bondage in housewifedom: though the setting is present-day Vancouver, she sports sweater sets, pearls, and a coiffure petrified halfway between Donna Reed and a B-52. Mom, a
puritanical chocoholic, cluelessly bonds with male-to-female transgendered lesbian Judy (Peter Outerbridge), who’s smitten with Frances (Ann-Marie MacDonald), Maggie’s high-strung boss at Ten Percent Books (Mom: “So you’re working at a discount bookstore?”). Meanwhile, Maggie tries mustering the gumption to tell her mother about her relationship with Kim (we know the couple’s love is true, since another gauzy acoustic
ditty pops up on the soundtrack every time the girls come near each other).

These voyages of self-discovery wouldn’t be complete without a few narrative landmines contrived for maximum melodrama. Judy gets bashed at a dyke bar (with a handbag, no less) for, um, using the wrong bathroom (no justice, no peace!) while skinheads firebomb the bookstore, with a naked Maggie inside. Love and understanding is readily found among the ruins—there’s nothing like a well-timed disaster to smooth over any rough edges, especially in a movie that can only open its eyes enough to see the good in everything.

Speaking of eyes wide shut, the erotic encounters in Head On are soaked with the strip-club reds and blues that permeate the Kubrick film (and your average Showtime late movie), and just like Tom, our hero cruises at night but doesn’t get laid. Head On‘s Ari is gay and Greek in Australia, and though a well-meaning friend tells him, “Fuck politics. Let’s dance,” the surly heartthrob sports a chip on his well-muscled shoulder to rival the most dangerous Backstreet Boy, or even the young Donnie Wahl berg. The movie trails Ari for 24 restless hours as he spars with his old-world parents, jaws with his lethargic friends, and surfs the local bars and dance clubs, while spastic handheld cameras, smeary slo-mo interludes, and incessant jump-cutting try to foist a sense of urgency on the proceedings. Ari seems to be heading toward a happy ending, but the film’s close is grim and ambivalent, a choice that would be commendable if the movie had not so stubbornly held the same dour tone for two hours already, and if Ari weren’t as boring as he is bored.