I don’t know much about Anthony Malkin other than that he must be a very rich man.
He is the president of a company started by his grandfather that owns about 10 million square feet of commercial property in the New York area.
Including the Empire State Building.
You may have heard during the last 24 hours that the Catholic League would like to see the Empire State Building lights turn blue and white on Aug. 26 to mark the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth.
The Empire State Building denied the request and the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue blew another casket. He’s planning a demonstration outside the ESB on Aug. 26 instead.
“Malkin has made his decision to stiff Catholics,” Donohue says.
In a statement, Malkin says: “The Empire State Building celebrates many cultures and causes in the world community with iconic lightings, and has a tradition of lightings for the religious holidays of Easter, Eid al Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan), Hanukkah, and Christmas.
He adds that the privately owned building “has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations.”
The thing is, the ESB lit up in honor of Cardinal O’Connor when he died in 2000 and in honor of Pope John Paul II when he died in 2005.
So the building’s ownership has a history of honoring religious figures and of not stiffing Catholics.
The picture shows the building lit up in 1995 to mark the 80th birthday of Frank Sinatra (who, by most accounts, was not as nice a person as Mother Teresa).
In a brief Q&A with the NYT in September, Malkin suggested that lighting decisions are informal and not taken all that seriously. Here’s the key part:
Q. One thing about the Empire State Building that isn’t changing is the night lighting that makes the building a distinctive part of the city’s skyline. Who decides the tower light colors?
A. Our brand manager. We get hundreds of requests a year.
We try to use the lighting to celebrate everybody who thinks highly of the building. We do important Western holidays, we have fun with the Mets versus the Yankees or the Jets versus the Giants. We also are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. And we use light to celebrate Id al-Fitr, the festivities at the end of the Ramadan fast.
Q. And the newest celebration?
A. The 40th anniversary and the grand reopening of El Museo del Barrio. It’s going to be on Oct. 14. All yellow.
The People’s Republic of China? The reopening of the El Museo del Barrio?
So why not light up for Mother Teresa?
Make everyone happy and end the controversy. It makes sense. It’s good business. Who would disagree (other than Christopher Hitchens)?
Your grandfather would probably be proud, Mr. Malkin.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)