About Michael Gross

Michael Gross, one of America's most provocative non-fiction writers, is the author of the New York Times bestsellers House of Outrageous Fortune, 740 Park and Model, as well as Rogues' Gallery and My Generation. His next book, Focus, The Sexy, Secret, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers, will be published July 5th. He is a Contributing Editor of Departures and his journalism has appeared in The New York TimesNew YorkVanity Fair, Esquire, GQ and many other publications.

April 27 2016

Good Building? Great Price? Gutfreund asks $120 million!!


“I think it’s the biggest apartment in New York,” says a real estate aficionado of some standing. “It was the apotheosis of the ’80s,” when Salomon Brothers head and one-time “King of Wall Street” John and Susan Gutfreund bought a duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue for the then-staggering sum of $7 million. Yesterday, in the wake her husband’s death in March, Mrs. Gutfreund listed the extravagant twenty-room, seven-bedroom apartment for an even more astonishing $120 million. That’s quite a leap from the $275,000 Carl J. Schmidlapp, a vice-president of of the Chase National Bank, paid in 1930 for what was then a twenty-four room home in the Rosario Candela-designed cooperative then under construction on the north corner of Fifth and… Continue reading

April 25 2016

Fashion Notes: #focusyourselfie


Fashion is dead. Long live fashion. That’s not the news you’ll hear in this week’s relentless run-up to Vogue‘s annual promotional party at the Metropolitan Museum, but it’s the message of “Has Luxury Fashion Priced Itself Into Extinction?” my return-to-fashion-writing essay on The Daily Beast this morning. “The digital culture that’s killing fashion-as-we-know-it could, perversely, prove fashion’s salvation,” it argues. “Alongside the paid bloggers and pampered celebrities flogging $3,000 branded goods on Instagram are just plain folks taking selfies of themselves in outfits that reflect individual creativity, not the needs of vampire corporations sucking quarterly profits from purses and perfume bottles. Luxury… Continue reading

April 19 2016

Library Journal on Focus: “Historically significant”


In its new issue, Library Journal focuses on Focus. “Tales of famous shoots and industry backstories during the ‘glory days’ of the genre…of the sexual promiscuity and recreational drug use of these (mostly male) photographers,” writes Shauna Frischkorn (a Professor of Photography at Millersville University). “The subject matter will be historically significant to those who are concerned with the photo artist’s role in the golden age of modern fashion photography. VERDICT: Recommended for enthusiasts of fashion and fashion photography.” Continue reading

David Koch joins the homeless


What do you do when your upstairs neighbor drives you from your home? David Koch, the wealthiest resident of 740 Park Avenue, forced out of the building by water damage following a fire in the apartment above his, belonging to J. Ezra Merkin of Bernie Madoff fame, has checked into a hotel and is checking out new cribs in his costly ‘hood, according to Richard Johnson of the New York Post and PageSix.com. Johnson adds delectable new tid-bits to the story that’s been playing out here on Gripepad over the last few weeks. Continue reading

April 17 2016

Focus: “Sex, drugs, beautiful women, and raw ambition,” says Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus logo_ribbon

Often snarky and always first, Kirkus Reviews, the book review specialist, has published its view of Focus, and calls the book “a gossipy exposé … of the talented, arrogant, philandering, combative, self-aggrandizing photographers whose work appeared in, and defined, such iconic fashion magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, and Elle from 1947 to 1997 … sometimes-tangy, often scurrilous … Not a pretty picture.” I guess they missed they parts about pretty pictures! Continue reading

April 14 2016

FOCUS: Early readers report

focus final jacket

Advance Praise for Focus

“I thought I knew practically everything about the fashion industry, but Michael Gross has corrected me. His thoroughly absorbing narrative dazzles with the most profound investigation and research. Focus is an enthralling and riveting read!” – Tim Gunn

“Michael Gross’s FOCUS is that rare thing: an equally delicious and deeply informative book, a news-breaking romp through the world of fashion photography, from its beginnings early in the last century to the recent controversial exploits of super bad boy Terry Richardson. Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, Deborah Turbeville, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel: these and so many others whose work I’ve enjoyed in VOGUE and BAZAAR are given context and… Continue reading

April 12 2016

740 Park Rumor Mill Update


The latest rumor out of 740 in the wake of the devastating fire there last week has it that Bernie-Madoff-feeder Ezra Merkin‘s duplex apartment, where the blaze began in a sauna, was thoroughly destroyed and that controversial conservative billionaire David Koch might buy the charred shell and add it to his own apartment just below, creating a quadriplex that will rival the best and biggest residence in the building, private equity kingpin Steve Schwarzman‘s duplex-plus-servant’s-mezzanine, once the home of John D. Rockefeller Jr. Does this qualify as #richpeopleproblems? Continue reading

April 11 2016

One Last Dose of Donald: “Really deep s**t.”


Donald J. Trump (born in 1946) is an unlikely Baby Boomer, but like it or not, he is one, and was one of nineteen profiled in My Generation, out of print for more than a decade, but now available again as an ebook. The Orlando Sentinel called it “hugely entertaining,” the New York Times Book Review said it was “exhaustively researched,” and the Arizona Republic deemed it “thought provoking, and haunted.” Buy it now by clicking here. Last month, Gripepad highlighted some of Trump’s appearances in the book. In the run-up to New York’s Republican Primary, here is one more brief excerpt from the book:

In June 1990, just in time for his forty-fourth birthday, Trump missed a deadline for a $42 million payment on… Continue reading

April 10 2016

Temperatures rising over 740 Park fire


A source reveals that the source of the fire that raged at 740 Park Avenue last week was a sauna in the apartment of Bernie-Madoff-feeder fat cat Ezra Merkin. And that’s caused fresh worries for two more of his neighbors. Recent purchaser Howard Marks has installed a sauna in his ongoing renovation. And long-time resident Israel “Izzy” Englander is currently combining two apartments and planning to install his own personal hot box. “The concern is that the board will make Marks remove [his] and stop Englander,” says the insider. This comes atop the water and smoke damage done to Merkin’s neighbors David and Julia Koch, Andrew and Dana Stone, Vera Wang and Thomas Tisch and his wife, the former board president Alice Tisch. Continue reading

April 8 2016

Kirkus on Focus: “Not a pretty picture of sex, drugs, beautiful women, and raw ambition”

Kirkus logo_ribbon

The first review of Focus calls the book “a gossipy exposé … of the talented, arrogant, philandering, combative, self-aggrandizing photographers whose work appeared in, and defined, such iconic fashion magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, and Elle from 1947 to 1997 … sometimes-tangy, often scurrilous … Not a pretty picture of sex, drugs, beautiful women, and raw ambition.” –Kirkus Reviews, May 2016 Continue reading

April 7 2016

JUST IN: Who got Merkined at 740 Park


No word yet on how yesterday’s bonfire of 740 Park’s vanities started in Ezra Merkin‘s laundry room, but an inside source offers this who-else-got-hit report: Severe damage was suffered by Julia and David Koch, beneath Merkin, and Dana and Andrew Stone beneath the Kochs, “due to fire ‘n’ flooding. Heavy smoke inundated the homes of former 740 co-op board president Alice Tisch, above Merkin, and fashion’s Vera Wang, above Tisch and her husband. At least one of the victims is blaming building management and the super, and demanding a change. Meantime, security guards have been posted at all entrances and staircases, understandable considering 740′s recent history of what were reportedly “inside job” robberies. Is the… Continue reading

When neighbors attack


Unmentioned in all the coverage of the fire yesterday in the apartment of Bernie Madoff associate Ezra Merkin at fabled 740 Park Avenue is the likelihood that he has two very angry and water-damaged downstairs neighbors.  But who are the folks who will be calling their lawyers, insurance agents, decorators and architects today?  Directly beneath Merkin is none other than financier David Koch, perhaps the building’s most controversial resident, along with wife Julia.  And beneath the Kochs reside Dana and Andrew Stone, the latter a banker with a fierce reputation.  Tops dogs in monied circles, they unfortunately both sleep in 740′s version of the bottom bunk–and we all know what flows downhill. (Water, silly.) At least they… Continue reading

April 6 2016

740 Park Board President at Scene of Fire


George David, owner of a penthouse and president of the board of the 740 Corporation is shown here on the scene of the fire in Bernie Madoff-feeder Ezra Merkin‘s apartment at 740 Park Avenue. Check back for updates. UPDATE: Patch reports that two firefighters were injured on the scene. Continue reading

Breaking: Fire at 740 Park in home of Madoff-associate Ezra Merkin’s apartment


As many as two dozen fire vehicles are outside 740 Park and a source inside the building says there is a fire in the sixth and seventh floor duplex apartment of embattled financier Ezra Merkin. Continue reading

April 5 2016

Focus is “juicy…fast-paced…insider,” says Devil Wears Prada author Lauren Weisberger


The Devil Wears Prada was a publishing, fashion and film phenomenon. Its author Lauren Weisberger is the latest early reader of Focus. “I loved reading all the juicy details that Michael uncovered in this fast-paced—and clearly insider—look at the rarefied, sexy world of fashion photography,” she says. Pre-order Focus here. Continue reading

April 4 2016

Panama Papers target 15CPW’s Condo King Rybolovlev

15 weill penthouse

Today’s Irish Times delves into the leak of “more than 11 million documents, dating from 1977 to December 2015, [that] show the inner workings of Mossack Fonseca, a global law firm based in Panama that helps customers create offshore shelters.” One of those customers is Dmitry Rybolovlev, purchaser (through an LLC, as first revealed in House of Outrageous Fortune) of the once record-setting $88 million penthouse at Fifteen Central Park West (see floor plan). Rybolovlev’s story “illustrates the lengths that spouses, their lawyers and professional trackers must go in search of wealth stashed offshore in complex networks of companies and trusts,” the paper says. Continue reading

April 1 2016

Focus is “compelling,” says Anthony Haden-Guest

focus final jacket

Author, journalist and cartoonist Anthony Haden-Guest is the latest early reader to offer an endorsement of Focus. He says, “Michael Gross takes us on a compelling journey through a hugely desirable culture – a culture which sometimes destroyed its most brilliant children and which is now slipping as irretrievably into the past as Versailles or the Swinging 60s.” Continue reading

March 31 2016

Focus: “Exposing photographers,” says New York Post’s Richard Johnson

focus final jacket

In today’s New York Post, gossip King Richard Johnson reveals a tid-bit from the opening pages of Focus, telling how King of the Selfies, photographer Terry Richardson, was dissed by the often naked pop princess Miley Cyrus. “The book, exposing photographers from Richard Avedon to Richardson, is out July 5th,” Johnson writes. Continue reading

March 29 2016

Calvin Klein comes clean?


Word comes via WWD that retired designer Calvin Klein is “writing” a book, though he adds, “I’m not big on looking back.” For those who would like to look back, Calvin Klein’s masterful advertising is discussed in depth in Focus, out July 5th. Meantime, here is my controversial profile of the designer from 1988 that caused him to pull his advertising from New York magazine for five years. Continue reading

March 26 2016

How Safe is Your Hotel in the Age of Daesh Terror?


The latest issue of Departures presciently addresses terror and travel in a special section. It’s a subject that seems all the more urgent after this week’s Brussels attacks. My story on the latest in hotel safety is here. The illo is by Owen Freeman. Continue reading