About Michael Gross

Michael Gross, one of America's most provocative non-fiction writers, is the author of three New York Times bestsellers House of Outrageous Fortune, 740 Park and Model, and the wildly controversial Rogues' Gallery. His last bestseller, Unreal Estate, is being developed as a TV series by Oscar-winner Joel Silver. His journalism has appeared in The New York Times, New York, Vanity Fair and many other publications.

July 30 2015

Cindy Crawford makes fudge for NBC


Cindy Crawford is developing a TV series “that revolves around the modeling wars in the ’80s that occurred between Ford Modeling Agency and Elite Model Management”, Variety reports. “The show is completely fictionalized.” That’s for sure. The Model Wars began in spring 1977, when Crawford was eleven years old. By the time her first test photos were taken in 1982, they were history. (The photo of Crawford by Marco Glaviano appears in Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women.) Continue reading

July 29 2015

Over-reaching at 15CPW?


The late insurance benefits executive Richard Ullman’s duplex “penthouse” at 15 Central Park West is back on the market a year after it was sold, asking $65 million, a slight increase over the $62.5 million the estate originally wanted, but a whopping increase over the $48 million the current owners, tucked inside an opaque LLC called 15CPW PHB (NYC), paid for it. It’s interesting to note that when the building was brand-new, Ullman tried to sell it before he even moved in for $55 million, but failed to get his price. After his death in 2011, the duplex was the focus of a legal battle between Ullman’s children and his second wife. The widow lost and it was listed again two years ago. (You can read more about the runup to… Continue reading

July 17 2015

The Donald will not approve


Donald Trump’s opinion notwithstanding, Mexico City is one of the most exciting, engaging and civilized cities in the world. Here’s my feature story for Departures on the DF’s many pleasures. Continue reading

Rizzoli Redux


In rare good news from the world of brick-and-mortar book retailing, Rizzoli Bookstore, forced from its gorgeous West 57th Street location by a developer last spring, has announced its Phoenix-like return. It will re-open on Broadway and West 26th Street on July 27th. Auguri! Continue reading

July 16 2015

Cry, the Beloved Lutece


Here’s one for Jeremiah Moss’ Vanishing New York: The townhouse that once held Lutece, Andre Soltner’s French restaurant on East 50th Street, and a NYC classic for more than four decades (it opened in 1961), is being demolished along with two adjacent houses--no doubt for another condominium tower. Lutece closed more than eleven years ago, and its space sat vacant since then; today the door was open and you could see the original bar, cloaked in a thick layer of dust (behind the door shown at right, marked exit). Thanks for the memories. Continue reading

June 15 2015

Battling Billionaires: LA Strikes Back


The Billionaire’s Belt in midtown Manhattan isn’t the only place where the .01 percent are spending mounds of money on real estate. The Hilton-Hyland realty blog, run by Bilal Khan, formerly of Curbed, today spotlights a Billionaire’s Hill in Bel Air, one of the neighborhoods featured in Unreal Estate. Want to rub garden hoses with Elon Musk (pictured)? He’s today’s king of the hill. Continue reading

June 12 2015

Meet Mexico City


“Mexico City is one of the world’s great cultural destinations. So what are you waiting for?” is my profile of the city and the story of its stunning revival in the May/June 2015 issue of Departures. Click the link to read a pdf. Continue reading

June 11 2015

Gripepad Recommended Read: Isn’t That Rich?


Ad man and raconteur Richard Kirshenbaum‘s Isn’t That Rich: Life Among the 1% is now available on line and in book stores. Gripepad’s proprietor wrote the forward and hopes its readers will be Kirshenbaum’s as well–if you aren’t already, that is. Continue reading

June 9 2015

15 CPW: Still the Tops


Fifteen Central Park West remains the city’s most expensive apartment building, according to CityRealty. So while observers of the primates of Park Avenue engage in (quite possibly sexist) arguments over the lives of wives of the East Side wealthy, and whether the latest truth-challenged memoir about them is accurate, it appears that it’s the really most sincerely wealthy men who inhabit the House of Outrageous Fortune who are truly making out. Continue reading

May 17 2015

Gripepad is Moving


Gripepad will likely go dark next two weeks as it changes premises, ISP, views and more. Might we post? Yes. Will it by our first priority? Not even close. Check back in June. And no, we ain’t headin’ west to the land of cement ponds. We just love us some Granny and Jeb. Continue reading

May 8 2015

Another Hedgie Clipped


Hedge Clippers, a protest group, rallied outside Fifteen Central Park West today, reports ValueWalk. Though the building is full of targets for the anti-hedge-fund organization, this time, their target was the occupant of the tip-top building’s tip-top penthouse, Daniel Och of Och-Ziff. With $437 billion under the management of 15CPW dwellers, it will be a while before Hedge Clippers runs out of targets at the limestone fortress. Among the alternative investment firms with executives in residence ar Among them are Titan Capital, Canyon Capital, SAC Capital, CCMP Capital, Duquesne Capital, Joho Capital, Kingdon Capital, Knighthead Capital, Millennium Capital, Point State Capital, Vedanta Capital, Kilmer Capital Partners,… Continue reading

April 23 2015

Munzer’s the Word at PEN Literary Gala


Fifteen Central Park West penthouse dweller Margaret Munzer Loeb, whose husband Dan Loeb was long an icon of free expression on Internet stock-chat boards, albeit using sock-puppet monickers like the memorable Senor Pinche Wey, has landed in Richard Johnson‘s column today . This time, it’s not for minor acts of book-burning, like her husband and fellow hedgie Barry Rosenstein‘s attempt to disrupt last year’s launch party for a certain book on their building, but for a good cause: her support of PEN, which itself supports free expression for writers speaking truth to power. She’s a co-chair of its annual gala next month, where the French satirists of Charlie Hebdo are being honored. Which brings to mind the words of… Continue reading

April 10 2015

Public Enemy? My Dinner with Dick and Liz


Richard Kirshenbaum, the ad man, has written a book called Isn’t It Rich? (out in June) and I’ve written an introduction to it, Liz Smith reveals on today’s New York Social Diary. In her account of our dinner together the other night at lovely Le Cirque, La Liz makes the case that Kirshenbaum and I are “enemies of the Manhattan wealthy,” because we sometimes write about the one percent. I know Liz doesn’t really equate coverage with clawing: she’s been excoriated for writing about the rich and famous likes of the late Frank Sinatra and the living Donald Trump. But I suspect that like me, she’s learned from experience that in some circles, accuracy is considered aggression. Continue reading

April 8 2015

Flashback: The Discovery of the Inimitable Kate Moss


Business Insider has taken a page from my book Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, and posted its account of the discovery of Kate Moss by modeling agent Sarah Doukas. Continue reading

April 6 2015

Who REALLY Owns That $88 Million Penthouse?

In recent days, as one generally-respected news source, Rolling Stone, has reminded us that respectability and trustworthiness are different things, two more news organizations, The New York Times and The New York Review of Books, have both stated as fact that the buyer of an $88 million penthouse at 15 Central Park West in 2011 was the then 22-year-old daughter of Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Both reports appear to be based on otherwise unsupported claims made, respectively, by one of Rybolovlev’s spokesmen to a Wall Street Journal reporter, and by one of his lawyers to a New York Times reporter. But those claims were made in the midst of contentious divorce litigation in which Rybolovlev’s estranged wife Elena… Continue reading

April 1 2015

Down by the Riverside


In the April issue of Avenue, Unreal Estate visits the Chatsworth, a condo conversion on the far west side, where Muffies rarely roam. Continue reading

March 27 2015

740 Park loses record, gains footnote


Curbed reports that Len Blavatnik, who left the Soviet Union in 1978 but still profited from its collapse via a partnership with Russian oligarch Vikor Vekselberg, has set a new New York co-op sales record with his $77.5 million purchase of New York Jets Woody Johnson‘s 14 room duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue. The previous record holder was 740 Park, where hedgie Israel “Izzy” Englander bought a second apartment in September for $71.3 million. 740, of course, had held that record previously, thanks to private equity poobah Steve Schwarzman‘s 1999 $29.9 million purchase of what had been Saul Steinberg’s duplex there. Indeed, Schwarzman held that record when Blavatnick tried to buy an apartment at 740, and its board recruited… Continue reading

March 24 2015

Russian TV rushes 15CPW

I’m on RT’s Boom Bu$t with Erin Ade today discussing Fifteen Central Park West, House of Outrageous Fortune, and who owns the outrageous eight- and nine-figuring condominiums popping up along the Billionaire’s Belt of… Continue reading

March 20 2015

740 Park Party Pad For Sale


Peter Huang, an investor whose ex-wife tossed wild Studio 54-era parties in his duplex apartment at 740 Park Avenue, has re-listed the place after it failed to sell 2011, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Candace Taylor. Then, it was listed for $29.5 million. Now, it can be had for $2 million less through broker Kyle Blackmon, the 15 Central Park West resident who sold Sandy Weill‘s penthouse at 15CPW to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev for $88 million. The buyer will have among his or her neighbors Will Zeckendorf, one of 15CPW’s developers. Continue reading

March 19 2015

Damning Daniel Loeb, Supporting Free Speech


Hedge Clippers, a progressive activist group, is taking aim at 15CPW penthouse owner and Third Point hedge fund honcho Daniel Loeb, reports the New York Observer. “Besides glitzy apartments and mega-yachts, Dan Loeb has developed a penchant for supporting right-wing politicians and other officials who put Wall Street’s interests ahead of Main Street’s interests,” the report reads. “This kind of political investment pays off for Loeb–-the Republican-led Senate blocks all efforts to close the carried interest loophole, levy a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on financial speculators’ stock transactions, or assess other taxes and fees on hedge fund managers and billionaires that would shrink the inequality gap in New York… Continue reading