Mall Memories


A. Alfred Taubman, founder of Taubman Centers, has a new memoir called "Threshold Resistance: The Extraordinary Career of a Luxury Retailing Pioneer" debuting tomorrow.

According, to the summary from publisher Harper Collins:

In this candid memoir, A. Alfred Taubman explains how a dyslexic Jewish kid from Detroit grew up to be a billionaire retailing pioneer, an intimate of European aristocrats and Palm Beach socialites, a respected philanthropist and, at age 78, a federal prisoner.

With a unique blend of humor and genius, Taubman shows how selling fine art and antiques really isn't that different from marketing root beer or football, and offers penetrating insights into that quintessential palace of commerce, the luxury shopping mall. Alfred Taubman may not have invented the modern shopping center but, in the words of The New Yorker, "he perfected it."

Taubman's life has been a storybook success, with its share of unique challenges. A pioneer builder and innovative real estate developer, he was also a brilliant land speculator, operator of a quick-serve restaurant chain, and owner of a major department store company. But what seemed like the pinnacle of his career, buying and reinventing the venerable art auction house Sotheby's, would lead to his conviction in an international price fixing scandal.

Despite the twists and turns, Taubman's life and business philosophy can be summed up in one evocative phrase: Threshold Resistance. Understanding and defeating that force—breaking down the barriers between art and commerce, between shoppers and merchandise, between high culture and popular taste—has been his life's work.

Taubman, who spent a brief time behind bars after the Sotheby's price fixing scandal, spoke to the AP about his book.

A. Alfred Taubman, ignoring all of his instincts, stayed silent during the price-fixing trial that would end with a prison sentence for the former owner of Sotheby's auction house.

It was a decision that the luxury mall developer and philanthropist sees as a critical mistake as he reflects on a career in retailing that began as a discount store salesman and eventually put him at the center of an art world scandal.

"I should have gotten on the stand," the 83-year-old billionaire said in a recent interview in his office at the suburban Detroit company he founded in 1950.

In 2001, a federal jury in New York convicted the former Sotheby's chairman of plotting with his counterpart at fellow auction giant Christie's to fix the commissions paid by sellers of fine art, jewelry, rugs and furniture. He served nine and a half months in prison before being released in May 2003.

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