Todd Brassner, who died in a fire at Trump Tower on Saturday, loved fast cars, electric guitars, expensive watches and making long, erudite pronouncements about art and art history. He was an art dealer with health problems and a 2015 bankruptcy that listed his apartment as the location of more than $3 million worth of artwork and other collectibles, including a 1975 portrait of Brassner painted by Andy Warhol.
Friends of Brassner said he had been trying to move since the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, which brought increased security and activity to the building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, but he could not sell his 50th-floor apartment, which he estimated to be worth $2.5 million in 2015.
“It haunts me,” said Stephen Dwire, 67, a musician and music producer who had been friends with Brassner since they were 14-year-olds in Harrison, New York, in Westchester County. “He said, ‘This is getting untenable,'” Dwire said. “It was like living in an armed camp. But when people heard it was a Trump building, he couldn’t give it away.”
Brassner, 67, lived alone amid a collection of about 100 vintage electric guitars, 40 guitar amplifiers dating to the 1930s, 150 ukuleles and artwork by Robert Indiana, Mati Klarwein, Jack Kerouac and others.
Officials from the Fire Department declined to comment on the damage to Brassner’s extensive holdings. On Sunday, they had not determined the cause of the blaze, which also injured four firefighters.
“We send our prayers and deepest condolences to Mr. Brassner’s family and loved ones,” a spokeswoman for the Trump Organisation said Sunday.
Brassner’s apartment in Trump Tower, built in 1983, did not have sprinklers, which were not required.
James Long, a spokesman for the Fire Department, said Sunday that residents in a fireproof building, like Trump Tower, were safest inside their apartments rather than evacuating.
Damage from the fire was visible from Madison Avenue and 56th Street. Fifty floors up, facing east, a pair of large horizontal windows were punched out, and the glass and metal facade above appeared scorched and sooty.
The New York Times
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