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 latest book is Focus, The Sexy, Secret, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers. 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.

June 15 2019

My Night With Bob Dylan

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In honor of this week’s release of Martin Scorsese‘s stirring mock-doc on Bob Dylan‘s 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue, click the continue link below to read an excerpt of my report on that tour, focused on the night that November I–briefly–attended the after-concert party in Niagara Falls, mid-way through the tour. I’d befriended Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, who got me through the door, saved me the first time I was tossed out, but couldn’t when I then made the mistake of speaking to Dylan himself. Next morning, in the hotel lobby, as the troupe gathered for a trip to the nearby Tuscarora Indian reservation (shown in the film), backup singer Ronnee Blakely loudly asked, “Did you know there was a reporter at the party last night?” … Continue reading

June 6 2019

Acidic Flashback to Trump’s Vietnam: A Dumb Deal Made by Morons

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In 1999, in an interview for the book My Generation, I asked Donald Trump his reaction to protests against the Vietnam War when he was finishing his education at The Wharton School and winning draft deferments for alleged bone spurs. On this 75th anniversary of D-Day, his reply deserves another airing. He said in his inimitable fashion (lightly edited only to add emphasis and eliminate repetition):

“I always thought that the [anti-war] riots [of the late 1960s], as bad as they were and everything else, the tremendous conflict at home, gave the other side an incentive to go forward. Because essentially, they knew that all they had to do was just keep going. There was no way of making peace when you had this country… Continue reading

May 25 2019

Two Jewish Boys, One Honeypot

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Tomorrow’s New York Times Book Review includes a sketch of a book published last month about the war over the web domain sex.com, pitting an internet entrepreneur named Gary Kremen against the conman who stole it from him, Steven Michael Cohen (shown as I confront him in Tijuana, Mexico). The reviewer calls the book “reductive,” but the story is, please pardon the expression, a sexy one. Should you want to read a lively reduction of its essence, I covered it for Playboy some fifteen years ago in a story titled “The Taking of Sex.com,” and you can read it here. Continue reading

May 22 2019

Dining with the Disgraceful

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I’m quoted in an essay on creepy society comebacks in the new issue of Town & Country. Read Horacio Silva‘s article here. Thge illustration is reminiscent of the cover I commissioned for last fall’s Avenue magazine Power issue. Continue reading

May 9 2019

Tattered Trump Tales

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Last night, in a commentary on Donald Trump‘s tax-dodging, Samantha Bee resurrected a clip from a 2003 doc in which Ivanka Trump recalled encountering a beggar with her father in the early 1990s. Apparently, this is a Trump family schtick, because her father told me the same story about four years earlier, only then, he was walking down the street (a dubious notion by itself) not with Ivanka but with his second wife, Marla. Compare and contrast Ivanka’s story with an unedited section of the transcript of that interview after the jump.

IVANKA (2003): “I remember once my father and I were walking down Fifth Avenue and there was a homeless person sitting right outside of Trump Tower and I remember my father pointing to… Continue reading

May 8 2019

“The Avenue’s Most Exclusive Address” –New York Times

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Looks like Park Avenue is the focus of the New York Times Real Estate section’s weekly “Living In” feature this weekend. And 740 Park gets the requisite name check. Thanks for that, C.J. Hughes. Continue reading

May 5 2019

Rogues’ Gallery: A Decade of Delinquency

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Rogues’ Gallery was published ten years ago today and remains both banned in the bookstore of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, its focus, and pointedly relevant, as last month’s death of longtime museum trustee Jayne Wrightsman, and this week’s frenzy over the Costume Institute’s annual gala, aka the Party of the Year, demonstrate. I think of the book as my favorite child, the one that caused the most trouble, was deemed a delinquent, and thus, merits extra love–my little James Dean, you might say, only this rebel had a cause: Highlighting how the wealthy use culture and philanthropy to launder their money, their deeds, and their reputations. And yes, members of the Sackler family of opioid fame are also characters in the… Continue reading

April 28 2019

Never Mind Irma, Here’s St. Barth

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St. Barthelemy’s recovery from Hurricane Irma is almost complete, and it’s a moment of reckoning for the island. Will it return to its haute BoHo roots, or continue down the road to St. Bling? My cover story on St. Barth for the March/April issue of Departures is now online for all to read. Continue reading

April 24 2019

Self-invention to the Max: Jayne Wrightsman, 99

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Tomorrow’s New York Post features an obit/excerpt from Rogues’ Gallery on the extraordinary Jayne Wrightsman, who died this week. It’s really about more than one museum. Continue reading

April 20 2019

Jayne Wrightsman, RIP

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One of my best and most knowing sources from Rogues’ Gallery, my book on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, tells me that Jayne Wrightsman, arguably the last living society lioness, has died after a long decline at age 99. She was born Jane Larkin in Flint, Michigan, in 1920. The daughter of an architect who mysteriously disappeared from her life, but went on to build American embassies and consulates for the U.S. State Department during and after the Great Depression, and, as described in that book, “a whisky-voiced southern-accented nightclub habitue nicknamed Chuggy,” she became an icon of American reinvention. With the husband she met in Los Angeles in the 1940s, Charles Wrightsman, the son of an Oklahoma wildcatter and… Continue reading

April 17 2019

Walking the Walk

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I’m quoted in the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter in Beth Landman‘s story on walkers…the men who once (and sometimes still do) escort women, married or otherwise, with whom they are not intimate, to social events.  In it, one-time walker Boaz Mazor says women “don’t care about society anymore — they are happy to go out with their iPhones!” Men, too, are not as eager to attend galas, adds Christopher Mason: “A lot of walkers are happily married to each other now and have satisfying home lives.” Beth didn’t include my praise of Anne Bass (with me, above), so I’ll add that thought.  Following her divorce in the ’90s, she started showing up at galas, proudly alone. It wasn’t done yet and that awed me. Photo by… Continue reading

March 26 2019

Sacking the Sacklers: Too Little Too Late?

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Today’s New York Times details a backlash against the philanthropy of the drug-dealing Sackler clan, best known here in New York as the donors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur (above), Sackler Wing and Sackler Galleries. The back story of the current controversy is told in Rogues’ Gallery, my book on how the super-rich have used that museum–and other causes–to launder their reputations and in the words of the book’s epigraph from Bernard Mandeville, turn “Private Vices…into Publick Benefits.”  The story begins in 1963, and includes the family’s invention of modern drug marketing (Sackler made Valium the first $100 million drug); secret deals personally benefiting Dr. Arthur M. Sackler; and his and his… Continue reading

March 13 2019

And for my next act….

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Expect Gripepad to come alive again, as I’ve left Avenue Magazine after just under two-and-a-half years as its Editor-in-Chief. It was fun while it lasted. Next! Continue reading

March 11 2019

St. Barth Bounces Back

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Holders of American Express Platinum cards can read my cover story on the rebirth of St. Barth post Hurricane Irma in the new issue of Departures.  Less privileged folk (like me, for instance) will have to wait until it is unlocked. Continue reading

March 6 2019

Calvin Klein Collection, R.I.P.

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And now comes the news that the owners of Calvin Klein, the brand, are closing its high-end collection business following the departure of designer Raf Simons, who failed to be its savior.  Calvin Klein, the man, lives on, both in the world and in my archives, thanks to my second-ever cover story for New York Magazine. It appeared in summer 1988, shortly after Calvin reappeared in New York to launch his scent Eternity following a much-publicized stint in drug rehab. Fun fact:  When I started reporting the story, the company pulled its advertising from New York, and didn’t return to the magazine’s pages for five years.  You can read about the highs and lows of the designer and his brand in their glory years here.  Continue reading

February 26 2019

Patrick McCarthy, R.I.P.

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It’s been a bad season for fashion and today comes the news that Patrick McCarthy, former editor of W and WWD, has died at age 67, after a long period out of the public eye, and, reportedly, a short illness.  I profiled McCarthy at the height of his power and influence in 1997.  You can read that story, “The McCarthy Era,” here.  One caveat:  McCarthy, who never married, nor had any long-term significant other, and never made his sexuality a matter for public discussion or commerce, as many of my subjects did, agreed to cooperate on the condition that I not delve into his private life. Continue reading

Isaac, Reconsidered

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In his new memoir, out today, fashion-designer-turned multi-media-performer Isaac Mizrahi cites my 1990 profile of him in New York Magazine as a “career-making story …with a long expose-style interview.”  At the time, I was told Mizrahi hated it because Harry Benson’s portrait of him on the cover was less than flattering.  I’m glad he’s changed his mind. Mizrahi writes that at the time, Calvin Klein‘s in-house flack Paul Wilmot commiserated with him over the fact that the story “made clear that I was gay,” something Mizrahi never denied.  “I was right,” Mizrahi writes.  Read the profile here. Continue reading

February 16 2019

Lee Radziwill, R.I.P.

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I first met Lee Radziwill, who died Friday at her home in Manhattan, more than thirty years ago when she handled public relations for the Milanese designer Giorgio Armani.  Years later, when I wrote about her childhood at 740 Park in my book on the storied apartment house,  she told me of the time her sister Jacqueline Bouvier (later Kennedy Onassis), saved her life after she tried to crawl out one of its sixth floor windows to escape the stifling atmosphere caused by her dissolute father, Black Jack Bouvier’s profligacy, and their parents’ failing marriage.  Window guards were subsequently installed to prevent a recurrence of her great escape.  But my favorite Lee anecdote is contained in a column I wrote for Avenue about… Continue reading

January 2 2019

JFK Jr: New doc debuts

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Tomorrow night, ABC broadcasts The Last Days of JFK Jr., a new documentary.  My voice is in the trailer, so I suspect I’ll be in the show, talking about my two cover stories on the American prince.  The first was for New York Magazine in 1989 and appeared as the man I called “Just John” was going to work for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.  The second, for Esquire in 1995, caught up with John as he launched his political magazine George.  Like his death, that mag, which sat at the intersection of politics and celebrity, came too soon. Continue reading

September 16 2018

Mnuchin Asking $32.5 Million at 740 Park

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The news that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has listed his sprawling A-Line duplex at 740 Park Avenue made headlines this week.  Besides the Wall Street Journal’s scoop by Katherine Clarke (shown), Forbes also featured the listing, citing the book that remains the primary source on the world’s richest apartment building. Continue reading