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Friends and relatives of James “Jay” Ott continue to search the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan for the designer, who has not been seen in person since March 22.
As of Sunday, there were more conflicting reports as to when exactly Ott was last seen. While NYPD has said that surveillance footage shows that Ott was last spotted at 9:50 p.m in his apartment building – The McKibbin Lofts at 248 McKibbin Street, Ott’s friend Beatrice Kim said Sunday additional footage spotted him twice before dawn on March 23. Other videos show Ott leaving his building at 4:35 a.m. and a camera outside of a bodega about a mile away northwest of McKibbin Lofts filmed Ott walking by around 4:51 a.m., heading towards Manhattan, Kim said. “That is why we’re searching in Brooklyn and Manhattan,” she said.
Ott’s father Robert traveled to New York to lead the civilian search for his son. Ott has not been in touch with his friends and family since Saturday, according to the NYPD. He is described as a male Caucasian with brown hair, blue eyes, a beard and a 175-pound thin build. In addition to the 15-person search team, friends have posted hundreds of “Missing Person” fliers in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and will continue to do so with an updated version that has two recent photographs of Ott.
His Dock Group colleague Beatrice Kim, who first befriended Ott when they worked together at The Row in 2009, said they had brunch together Saturday at her Brooklyn apartment and “everything kind of seemed OK.”
“Jay is literally my best friend. He is also the type of person that everyone gravitates towards,” she said. “I’m sure many, many people say, ‘Jay is my best friend.'”
At The Dock Group, Ott serves as design director for Crippen and Rosetta Getty, who is launching a signature ready-to-wear collection this fall. Getty, a former model, is married to Balthazar Getty, the actor, musician and scion of the notable West Coast family. For her company’s launch, she partnered with the brand management and investment firm The Dock Group, which also took a stake in Creatures of the Wind last fall.
As raw material director at The Dock Group ad through their former work experience at The Row, Kim described Ott as “a team builder,” who is always trying to figure out how he can get everyone involved. He wants to create a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable asking questions, being opinionated and sharing ideas. Jay is also very animated. He’s always laughing about something, making jokes and doing impersonations.”
Born in Toledo and raised in Pittsburgh, Ott studied at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) before moving to New York. As a seventh grader Ott was said to have convinced his parents to take him to the city to check out the fashion scene. By chance, he met Anna Sui in her Soho store and the designer reportedly wrote “Follow Your Dream” on a postcard. Sui was traveling Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
In response to Ott’s disappearance, The Dock’s chief executive officer Matt Walker said Wednesday, “Our love and support are with Jay’s family and friends at this difficult time. We are working with the authorities and doing everything possible to help locate him. We are asking if anyone has any information to please call 718-963-5368 for the 90th Police Precinct in Brooklyn.”
Ott’s family issued the following statement Wednesday through a spokeswoman for The Dock Group: “Jay’s family and friends are extremely concerned and anxious to receive any word regarding Jay’s health and safety. His health and safety are our primary concern. If he is seeking help and confidentiality is a concern, we understand, but we would love to hear that he is safe.”
The family asked anyone with information about Ott to phone the 90th Precinct or the “Friends of Jay” number at 718-710-7919. They also can e-mail any information to firstname.lastname@example.org.