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Another National Arts Club Trustee May Have Discount Rent

By Amy Zimmer | February 1, 2011 10:11pm | Updated on February 2, 2011 6:23am
Bobby Abid, left, with National Arts Club president O. Aldon James, at a club dinner on Nov. 11, 2008.
Bobby Abid, left, with National Arts Club president O. Aldon James, at a club dinner on Nov. 11, 2008.
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By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN — His name is listed as one of the National Arts Club’s 21 board members on its most recent tax filing, but few other board members know who he is or have seen him at many of their meetings.

Robert, or "Bobby," Abid, the mystery man on the club’s board, joined the other governors nearly two years ago, shortly after he received one of the highly-coveted rentals in the club’s historic building at 15 Gramercy Park South, according to sources.

Though the tax document lists six other trustees or relatives with apartments in the club, it makes no mention of Abid’s digs.

Yet, sources told DNAinfo that Abid has a studio apartment there, for which he purportedly pays $1,600 a month. They also said he only paid $1,200 a month for November and December.

That rate would appear way below market value for this elite enclave: a studio nearby at 21 Gramercy Park South was rented in October for $2,150 a month, according to StreetEasy.com.

So who is Bobby Abid?

According to Abid’s website, he was a former Mr. India New York winner and worked for five years as a video jockey on New York-based cable channel ITV (International Television). The New Jersey-reared actor moved to New York City in 2002 and has appeared in several stage and film productions, including "Sex and the City" and "All My Children," his website stated.

In 2004, the Off-Off Broadway production of "Forbidden Fruit," a  story of love between two men, featured Abid in a role requiring full-frontal nudity, which garnered some interest in the blogosphere.

Abid’s website also featured the following blurb for one of his show's reviews: "Abid's talent and good looks are a perfect combination for any audience," says the National Arts Club.

One board member, speaking on the condition of anonymity, saw Abid at only one other meeting prior to Friday’s clampdown.

When asked about Abid, this board member offered, "He’s a pharmacist and before that he was a foreign actor."

The president of the club’s board, O. Aldon James, is said to introduce Abid to people as "my pharmacist," according to sources.

Abid did not respond to DNAinfo for comment, nor did James.

DNAinfo could not find a Robert or Bobby Abid listed as a licensed pharmacist under New York state’s Office of Professions or New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs.

Ex-club member Steve Miller recalled the frustration of not knowing who the board members were, how they were elected or what they did. Because the National Arts Club is a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity, Miller thought it should be run with more transparency and oversight and that members should have received more timely and accurate information.

Miller, a museum director who left the club more than seven years ago, was part of a now-defunct group called Concerned Artists and Members of the National Arts Club. The group tried to pry open some of the institution’s inner-workings by, for instance, trying to get board meeting minutes.They were unsuccessful.

It also took them a few years to get the club’s membership rolls, which had been posted by the front door until Aldon James took over in 1985.

"In my opinion the only way for change to take place is for Aldon and John to leave and the trustees presumably won’t (or can’t) do that," Miller said in an email. "When I was a member, it was assumed that the silence of people was because they had apartments there or enjoyed other favors or were intimidated."