It’s not unusual for the rich to have weird parties, but in New York those parties are stranger than most.  On Tuesday, artist Julian Schnabel was honored at a party at an abandoned sugar refinery: the Domino Sugar Factory.

The factory has lain abandoned under the Brooklyn half of the Williamsburg Bridge for ten years, and was in such bad condition that when the team that held the event, Creative Time, first visited the site three months ago their feet stuck to the ground there was so much molasses on the floor.

Even on the night of the party the walls were still sticky with the molasses and there was a ripe, foul odor that invaded parts of the event.  Next door there were protestors in HazMat suits protesting an asbestos laden building with giant inflatable rats.  The factory was known for being the kind of place that teenagers and illegal squatters would invade, and is hardly the kind of place you would expect to see New York’s “it” crowd to attend a party.

But attend it they did.  Dick Cavett was there to honor Julian Schnabel’s work, Robert Soros and Charles Rockefeller sat at banquet tables filled with overturned candlesticks.    Both Lauren and Andres Santo Domingo, previously named some of the internationally best dressed, took in the huge pieces of Schnabel art that were around and seemed to enjoy it. Lauren remarked that “it feeld like there’s been a lot of partying here before us.”

“It’s a nice change of scenery,” said Andres Santo Domingo who works nearby. “My record label, Mexican Summer, is down the street in Fort Greene.”

All in all,  some 600 guests came to an abandoned factory to appreciate Julian Schnabel’s art, raise money to commission groundbreaking work in New York,  dine, dance, and watch the sun set over the East River.  At the very least, it was probably a novel experience.

Ryan Boucher is a student at Penn State interested in business, art, and culture. Follow his musings at

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