CHRISTOPHER MASON is a New York Times journalist; author of The Art of the Steal: Inside the Sotheby’s-Christie’s Auction House Scandal; a writer and performer of musical tributes and satirical songs; and an aspiring photographer.

 
 

CHRISTOPHER MASON

Christopher Mason is the TV host of “Behind Mansion Walls,” a new weekly series on the Investigation Discovery channel, about murder in fabulous houses. (Click to find Investigation Discovery on your TV.) He is also a journalist, author, performer of musical tributes and satirical songs, and a photographer. (Click to view Christopher’s travel diary from India and Thailand.)


JOURNALISM: A frequent contributor to The New York Times, Christopher has written for the past 17 years on the worlds of art, society, fashion, and design. Most recently, for Travel & Leisure, he wrote about Ballyfin, a neoclassical mansion erected in 1826 to trumpet the wealth and prestige of Sir Charles Coote, the Premier Baronet of Ireland, which has just reopened as a luxurious hotel. For Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast, he wrote “The Baby Monitor Diaries,” about the diaries of Brooke Astor’s staff, which provide harrowing new accounts of the queen of New York philanthropy’s tragic story. He traveled to England for the Times to write about the Duchess of Northumberland’s controversial Alnwick Garden, and the scandal surrounding John Hobbs, the English furniture dealer accused by his longtime restorer of selling fake antiques. (Christopher’s follow-up about John Hobbs’ secretive and reclusive brother Carlton Hobbs  was published in the New York Times on October 16.) In 2007 Christopher flew to Shanghai to interview Pearl Lam, the outrageously outspoken dealer and promoter of Chinese contemporary art and design, whose hairdo resembles an unkempt chrysanthemum. She received him in her 10,000-square-foot Shanghai apartment, where the dining room seats 66 for dinner. He also visited Moscow and St. Petersburg to report on the explosion of interest in interior design in Russia, which has sprung up in the past five years as a multibillion-dollar business.


BOOKS: Christopher Mason is the author of The Art of the Steal: Inside the Sotheby’s-Christie’s Auction House Scandal, a critically acclaimed book about the price-fixing scandal that cost the world’s leading auction houses $512 million in civil fines and sent A. Alfred Taubman, the billionaire chairman of Sotheby’s to jail for 10 months. According to the Sunday Times: “Mason tells a jaw-dropping tale of greed, fear and folly . . . a chilling and deeply satisfying moral tale . . . Mason is a meticulous researcher. . . an  excellent book.”  The Economist described The Art of the Steal as “a rare beast -- a genuine antitrust thriller, a gripping yarn of real-life collusion that is spiced up with Picassos, class warfare, art-market bitchiness and the rather unsettling conclusion that some well-heeled villains got away with it.”


SONGS: Christopher is also renowned for writing and performing musical tributes and satirical songs. Mostly recently, he performed for The Duke and Duchess of Marlborough at a private dinner in New York given by Hilary and Wilbur Ross. In November, he performed for Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman of the Blackstone Group, at a private party in the U.K.; and at a dinner honoring Mario Buatta, the Prince of Chintz, with the Centurion Award for Lifetime Achievement from Parson’s The New School of Design, in New York. He has also performed for Mayor Mike Bloomberg, President Bill Clinton, the Prince of Wales, Liz Smith, Dominick Dunne, Joan Rivers, Philip Johnson, Doris Duke, C.Z. Guest, Agnes Gund, Ivana Trump, Donald Trump, Wilbur Ross, David Koch and Leonard Lauder (to name drop only a few) in venues ranging from the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library to a private birthday party in a Paris nightclub, the Purim Spiel for the Jewish Museum’s gala in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria, and the opening gala for New York’s New Museum on the Bowery. He has also performed on the B.B.C., on local TV stations across the USA, and on ABC’s Good Morning America.


PHOTOGRAPHY: Christopher’s recent travels to China, India, Thailand, Africa, Russia, South America and Europe have inspired a new passion for photography. Please click on any of the photographs to the right to view a slideshow of new images.

                                                     BIO

Born and raised in Cambridge, England, Christopher Mason fell in love with New York and moved to Manhattan in 1983 after graduating from Cambridge University with a B.A. in art history.


Since then, he has had three distinct careers. He first worked for George Trescher, a fund-raiser and PR genius who introduced him to the leaders in the social, business, and philanthropic worlds of New York during the 1980s. Two of Trescher’s closest friends were Brooke Astor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Christopher found himself collaborating with those remarkable ladies on numerous charitable and social events. While working for Trescher he helped organize the memorable weddings of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, and Edwin Schlossberg and Caroline Kennedy. He was also in charge of the rollicking lunch party that followed the memorial service for Andy Warhol. It was an extraordinary education in the idiosyncrasies of a privileged realm that he found intriguing.


Christopher launched a second career in 1987 as a musical satirist, writing and performing cabaret songs that offered a wry commentary on the excesses of New York in the 1980s and early 1990s. Hyperbolically dubbed “A New Age Noel Coward” by New York magazine, he was hired by the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others, and he performed throughout the United States. For information about Christopher Mason’s ongoing musical career, please visit SatiricalSongs.com.


In 1995, Christopher began writing social commentary for the New York Times and New York magazine. In January 2000 he was working on an article about the braggadocio of Sotheby’s and Christie’s newly expanded headquarters in New York, and their efforts to conquer the Internet, when news of the price-fixing scandal involving the auction houses hit the Financial Times. The focus of Mason’s article changed abruptly, and he wrote the first magazine story about the scandal rocking the overlapping worlds of art, society, and business. (It ran as New York’s cover story on March 20, 2000.)


For some time, Christopher had wanted to write a book that would sum up the giddy excesses he had witnessed during the eighties and nineties in New York and London. He realized that this story had everything he wanted to write about: blinding ambition, corrosive greed, beauty, art, and corruption in high places. In researching the four main protagonists of the auction scandal  - Alfred Taubman, Dede Brooks, Christopher Davidge, and Sir Anthony Tennant - he discovered fascinating human stories behind the actions of the powerful personalities who broke the law and suffered, in some cases, the consequences.


Christopher Mason is currently working as a journalist, writing and performing songs, taking photographs, and working on a satirical novel.

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CHRISTOPHER’S FAVORITE LINKS: (more to follow . . .)

Amanda Foreman, Author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

Amanda Vaill, Author of Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins

Elle Decor, article on Will & Grace director Jim Burrows in Millbrook

Enrique and Guillermo de Fazio: astounding tango brothers

Juan Carlos Arcila Duque, Author of Latin Style  

Peter Pennoyer Architects

New York Social Diary

Royal Court Theatre, London

Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

Sofka Zinovieff, Author of Red Princess and Eurydice Street

Stephen Fry, absurdly talented writer, actor, pundit, hippo fancier

The Art of the Steal: Inside the Sotheby’s-Christie’s Auction Scandal

The Daily Beast

The Colbert Report

The Daily Show with John Stewart

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK

The New York Post

The New York Review of Books

The New York Times

Wynkoop House: Historic house for weddings, etc., Stone Ridge, NY

BACANOVIC                                                                            BEHIND MANSION WALLS: New series on Investigation Discovery, Mondays at 10 PM EST. Starts June 6.