De Niro in running to buy New York newspaper

The New York Observer, the arty boutique-style weekly that is printed on the same salmon coloured paper as The Financial Times, may soon have an unusual owner: Robert De Niro.

The Hollywood actor and two associates are negotiating to buy the paper from its founder, former Wall Street broker Arthur Carter, who these days is more interested in creating metal garden sculptures than publishing. He has been trying to offload the weekly for some time, largely because it is said to be losing over $2 million a year.

But until now has found no serious takers.

Among those who have looked – and passed – have been: Manhattan Media, which owns Avenue Magazine and several free weeklies including Our Town and West Side Spirit; Bruce Wasserstein, owner of New York Magazine, and even Reed Elsevier, the publisher of Variety.

Others, according to the New York Post, have looked at the Observer's website, among them the Guardian Media Group, but most have concluded it would be hard to separate the website from the print edition.

The Observer has a circulation of around 50,000 – mainly in the art- and newspaper-oriented areas of Manhattan. It is a "must read" among most New York journalists.

Its present owner, who made his money on Wall Street and owns property in Connecticut, which includes a garden filled with his sculptures, once owned newspapers in The Hamptons and Connecticut but in recent years has sold them all.

De Niro and his associates, according to the New York Post, would like to link the Observer to the New York-based Tribeca Film Festival which they started and continue to help run.

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