The Inevitable Heartbreak Of Interview Magazine

Photo: George Rose/Getty Images.
If you're reading this, it's too late. By now, you're likely aware that Interview magazine has folded. After nearly 50 years of documenting the coolest faces and places in art and culture, the Andy Warhol-funded publication succumbed to its fate via financial mismanagement and a few nasty lawsuits. It's certainly not the end the artist would have wanted when he founded the magazine in 1969, but may it now rejoin its creator in publishing heaven.
On Monday, several Interview employees announced their unemployment via Twitter. After being notified in an all-hands editorial meeting that the magazine would be shuttering, the staff was told the company be filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Almost immediately, the industry took to Instagram to share personal mementos of the magazine over the years. It's the unwanted but likely conclusion to the final years of Interview, which saw the glossy rotting from the inside out.
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Earlier this month, its former editorial director Fabien Baron and wife Ludivine Poiblanc sued the magazine for upwards of $600,000 in styling and consulting work. That was preceded by another lawsuit, this one by former stylist and creative director Karl Templer, who reportedly left the magazine for being unpaid $280,000 (and was name-checked in an article that exposed several top industry figures of sexual harassment). Add former sales representative and associate publisher Jane Katz's owed $230,000 and president Dan Ragone's unpaid $170,000, as well as several other editorial staffers, and the bankruptcy of Interview doesn't seem as shocking as it does a last resort.
Published by Brant Publications — which, as of 2016, also owns several other art publications, including ARTnews and Art in America — the magazine was bought by billionaire Peter Brant in 1987, shortly after Warhol's death. After a "relaunch" in 2008 under Baron and Brant's ex-wife Sandra Brant (its then-president), Interview regained traction as the magazine that preserved fashion, art, and pop culture in pure form. But that was then, and since, under the leadership of his daughter, Kelly Brant, the billionaire has been sued for wrongful termination in addition to the aforementioned lawsuits, and allegedly neglected to pay rent for the magazine's offices.
Photo: Adriano Alecchi/Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images.
But those who laud Interview as being one of the reasons they joined publishing in the first place tell a different story. For many — mostly those who never worked there or got their start at the publication, nurturing their careers elsewhere before things got bad — Interview has always been one of the few outlets that didn't sacrifice art for commerce, culture for popularity, and fashion for paid advertising. Though the latter may have contributed to its deficiency, it did serve as one of the premier fashion publications that, thanks to private funding, was able to churn out cover stories and editorials produced by top teams that contained the 'wow' factor we've come to know and stick to our walls.
Interview put into pictures what couldn't be said in words. From the illustrated covers of its heyday (see: David Bowie, Madonna, Grace Jones, and more), to the grunge-glam issues of the late '90s and early aughts (Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Drew Barrymore), to the paired back, Baron-fied editions (that were mostly grayscale), it remained a dream job for anyone who wanted to move to New York City and work in publishing. Its tête-à-tête style interviews between A-list celebrities, its boundary pushing photoshoots (hello, Kim Kardashian as Jackie O), and high-fashion market pages sustained itself as the crystal ball of pop culture. And despite its imperfections, the death of Interview feels like the last magazine.
A spokeswoman for the magazine told WWD: "The company has been operating at a financial loss and had been funding its losses and costs of its operation through loans obtained from its secured lender. The losses continued to mount, and the company did not believe its financial condition would improve in the foreseeable future," adding that all of Interview's assets will be liquidated and distributed to its creditors in accordance with the law.
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