The Gates bring $250M to NYC, but what did they really cost?

From the CBC:

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s art installation The Gates, which teams began removing from Central Park this week, has injected more than $250 million US into New York’s economy.

Though the city didn’t pay a cent for the $21 million US project – which like the duo’s other works was funded entirely by the artists – New York got a $254-million US boost that benefited everyone from the Central Park Conservancy to museums to hot dog vendors and carriage drivers.

More here. But it is not clear if the project really cost as much as Christo claims. Mike McIntire of the New York Times writes:

A New York filmmaker who dared to dissect the $21 million figure on his Web site was savaged in an anonymous e-mail message, which included a suspiciously European-sounding putdown: “You ridiculous apprentice of nothing!”

Searching for anything that would explain the project’s costs, a New York Times reporter set out on a quest that included visits to drab municipal offices, calls to zipper-mouthed contractors and a climactic confrontation with Christo in Central Park. In the end, it appears that at least some of the grand price tag for “The Gates” may be as conceptual as the work itself, and the effort to assess its cost ultimately proved futile, particularly given the vagaries of the marketplace and the singularity of such an artistic enterprise.

More here.