Modern Luxury Media acquires Aspen Magazine

by Dorothy Atkins, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

Modern Luxury Media, a nationwide magazine company, announced Monday that it has acquired Aspen Magazine, following months of speculation about the publication’s future.

Modern Luxury Media President Alan Klein declined to disclose how much the company paid for the 40-year-old local magazine or the specific terms of the deal, but he did note that former owner Janet O’Grady will retain her position as editor-in-chief.

The acquisition has been in the works for about six weeks and was made final last week, Klein said.

Aspen Magazine, originally founded in 1974 and purchased in 1987 by O’Grady and Randy Beier, canceled its summer and fall issues and vacated its downtown Aspen office space earlier this year.

O’Grady has had sole ownership of the magazine and served as its editor-in-chief since 2002, when Beier, her husband, died of cancer.

Los Angeles-based Modern Luxury Media owns more than 40 publications in a dozen U.S. cities, including interior design- and bridal-specific brands.

Klein, who has worked previously with O’Grady and Beier, said that the acquisition came as a result of what he called the magazine’s quality brand.

“I’ve kept in touch with [O’Grady] over the years, and I think that they just put out a fantastic editorial project,” Klein said.

Modern Luxury plans to change some details of Aspen Magazine’s format, like the size of the paper it’s printed on, in order to be consistent with its other publications. But the idea is to maintain the locally oriented editorial content, Klein said.

The Modern Luxury website lists Aspen Magazine’s former location at 720 E. Durant Ave. as the publication’s office, but the magazine vacated the spot in the spring. The Durant address serves as a place holder until new headquarters can be established, Klein said, adding that he plans on making a trip to Aspen next week to look for a new spot.

It is also too soon to tell who will make up the magazine’s new staff, but the Aspen office will house a local sales and editorial team, Klein said. Modern Luxury plans to fill those positions with local talent, but the company will bring in outside help if needed, Klein said.

Modern Luxury plans to release an Aspen Magazine holiday issue in December along with a gallery guide. The publication will have six annual editions, Klein said, which is on pace with the number of issues the magazine produced before.

Modern Luxury’s acquisition means that all three of the town’s “glossies” — referencing lifestyle and culture magazines Aspen Magazine, Aspen Peak and Aspen Sojourner, and the shiny paper they are printed on — are owned by a company from outside the area.

Alex Halperin, publisher of Aspen Peak, which is owned by Niche Media Holdings, LLC, said the acquisition will likely be a good thing for the local magazines.

“We welcome the competition,” Halperin said. “It pushes everyone to make a stronger product.”