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It’s fair to say that the Audi Forum New York City opened with the bang (of a 12-cylinder Auto Union Type D Silver Arrow) and the whisper (of an Audi R10 TDI). Back in 2006 Manhattanites gawked as Park Avenue was shut down and the Auto Union, the R10 and the all-new and as-of-yet-unavailable R8 coupe cruised down the street. The racecars were piloted by Audi Sport works drivers Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner. The R8 was driven by Ralph Weyler, then head of marketing at Audi AG, with New York mayor Michael Bloomberg riding shotgun.
The Audi Forum, located on the south west corner of Park Avenue and 47th street, was a great new space. Taking over a local Audi showroom, the place was completely gutted and a new and more modern interior had been designed complete with a large LED display that roved the entire space suspended from a track installed in the ceiling. A clean and simple board room was also there, hidden and used for local executive meetings.
For the 2006 grand opening, Audi of America navigated uncharted territory by ordering an A8L W12 for display. The car was fitted with every option Audi Exclusive had to offer that would comply with American market parameters and as such it priced out well above any Audi that had ever been brought into the market at the time. Executives at Audi figured it might impress the locals given the high caliber and higher salaried executives that worked in the neighborhood and figured they were on to something when someone came in and offered a deposit on the car while workers were setting up the space on opening day. Since the Audi Forum was not a dealership and it wasn’t in the business of selling cars, this complicated matters but a deal was stuck and the anxious buyer was able to take delivery after the car had spent some time on the show floor.
Over the years Audi of America hosted many events there, whether for launches of their own automobiles or as a shared space for an affinity partner. That first night Wyclef Jean played and was introduced by Stephen Colbert, a long-time Audi owner. In his intro, Colbert suggested that A-U-D-I stood for “America You Deserve It”. Chuckling along in the crowd that night were actresses Heather Graham and Zoe Saldana. Over the years even more celebrities partied at the Audi Forum, including Jay-Z and Tom Brady.
The last event we attended at the Audi Forum New York was an east coast showing of Audi’s Truth in 24 II documentary last spring. The space looked as beautiful and modern as ever, but it turns out that its time was coming to an end. A New York local and reader of this site Eugene emailed us this week to let us know that he’d swung by and was surprised see no Audi logo on the building and no fresh new Audi models on the floor.
We’ve inquired with Audi of America to confirm the status and can now officially re-state what Eugene learned this week. With the opening of the flagship Audi Manhattan later this year, the forum had become a bit redundant and its lease had come to an end. Of course Audi Manhattan will be a dealership, so it will be interesting to see how the new space compares to the old. In the meantime, we’ve attached a link to our photo gallery from the 2006 opening event. That gallery is also linked to a greater gallery of other events we’ve attended there over the years. Enjoy.