Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 16.57.16 Large scale photograph of guests at Studio 54

The story begins back in 1927, when the doors to the newly designed Gallo Opera House on 254 West 54th Street between Eighth Avenue and Broadway in Manhattan opened. Designed by architect Eugene De Rosa, sadly the theatre failed. It was later purchased by CBS in 1943 and renamed Studio 52.

The stunning architecture caught the eye of many in the arts and fashion industry who envisioned the theatre being transformed into a nightclub. Gallery owner Frank Lloyd was persuaded by model Uva Harden to finance the venue. However, Lloyd had to pull out of financing the project as, Marlborough art, the gallery he founded, lost $9 million following the Rothko Case.

After the death of the artist, Rothko's family were told by the gallery that under an agreement with Rothko and Marlborough, first made in 1966 and later reviewed in 1969, that the gallery owned the artist's estate. A legal battle they would later lose to the artist's family.

Entrepreneurs Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager snapped up the property in 1977 with financial backing from Jack Dushey. From 1977 to 1979, what was known as the first era of the nightclub, the venue was a hotbed of artists, models and the most famous faces of the decade.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 16.56.41 Two large scale photographs of Diana Ross (singer/actor), Steve Rubell (entrepreneur/co-owner of Studio 54) and guests at Studio 54

The nightclub was anything but low-key. One New Year's Eve party that took place there had an incredible four tons of glitter thrown onto the dancefloor.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 16.58.01 Large scale photograph titled KEEP YOU HAT ON of Richard Gere (actor/activist) and guests at Studio 54.

And the guests were just as spectacular. Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Tina Turner, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Cher, David Bowie, Al Pacino, Salvador Dalí, Donald Trump and Jackie Kennedy Onassis all graced the dance floor during the late 1970s.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 16.57.52 Large scale photograph of Elton John ( singer-songwriter/musician/composer) and Goldie Hawn (actress/director/producer) at Studio 54.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 16.57.42 Two large scale photographs of Michael Jackson (singer/songwriter) and guests at Studio 54.

Large scale photograph of Rod Stewart (singer/songwriter) and guests at Studio 54. Large scale photograph of Rod Stewart (singer/songwriter) and guests at Studio 54.

The entertainment was as incredible as the guests. Donna Summer, Stevie Wonder, Grace Jones and James Brown were amongst those who took to the stage from 1977-79.

But the New York fairytale would soon turn into a nightmare, thanks to Rubell's boasting to the New York press that the club was raking in millions. Soon the IRS were paying close attention to the nightclub's finances which led to the club being forced to close as Rubell and Schrager were found to be skimming money.

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In 1980, a final farewell was bid to Studio 54, where legend has it Diana Ross serenaded Rubell and Schrager. The story of Studio 54 ended with Schrager and Rubell pleading guilty to tax evasion which saw them spend 13 months in jail.

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Nearly 4 decades later, in 2013, Palm Beach Modern Auctions set records with their Studio 54 auction featuring memorabilia and photographs from the Estate of Steve Rubell. February 2017 will see the return of Studio 54 as PBM will host a sale of Studio 54 memorabilia, timing with the 40th Anniversary of Studio 54, as well as the release of the film documentary and Ian Schrager’s book.

Studio 54: Richard Manning Photographs & Modern art will take place on February 4, 2017. Check out more here.

All images featured are taken by Richard Manning and will be on sale at Palm Beach Modern.

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