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.

May 25 2016

Plague Days at 740 Park

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After a devastating fire a few weeks ago, the world’s richest apartment building, 740 Park, is now being cloaked in 184 linear feet of sidewalk shed. Why? A source with detailed knowledge of the 1929 building’s woes says that after chunks of limestone fell from its facade last July, causing the FDNY to rush there, it was determined that some of the metal brackets that hold the massive stone blocks in place “are rusting, and as it rusts, it swells and pops the limestone, causing pieces to fall.” The source adds, “They have to do probes on the limestone [and] might have to re-clad the building at a cost of $100 million.” That would likely trigger an assessment of about $3 million per apartment. Lucky thing the “poor”… Continue reading

May 24 2016

15CPW is #1 again

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The House of Outrageous Fortune, Fifteen Central Park West, has once again climbed to the top of the New York apartment house heap according to a semiannual report from City Realty with average resales of over $6,000 per square foot, $1,000 more than newer, taller competing properties like One57 and 432 Park–and that despite a 4.7 percent decline in its performance. Fifteen’s staying power is all the more remarkable given the fact that many of the other buildings in the top ten are newer properties. Indicating, perhaps, that the smart money knows newer and taller isn’t necessarily better. Limestone Jesus rules. Continue reading

May 22 2016

Focus is “deep-diving…groundbreaking,” says DuJour Magazine

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In its new issue, out this week, DuJour calls Focus “a deep-diving exposé into the world of iconic fashion photographers…groundbreaking.” I’ll post a link to the story by David Foxley as soon as it’s available. Continue reading

May 16 2016

Focus is “mind-blowing,” says Barry Kieselstein-Cord

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“This is the best book on the real world of top photographers in the fashion industry ever,” says designer Barry Kieselstein-Cord. “Having hired and worked with many of them covered in Michael’s book I can tell you the back stories are mind blowing. Anyone remotely connected to fashion should read his book!” Continue reading

May 15 2016

Donald Trump and the Dolls: A Love Story?

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Today’s New York Times gives presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump the business over how he treats women in business. Readers of Gripepad may recall its repeated references to that subject back in March, plumbing quotes he gave for My Generation, a generational biography just re-released as an e-book. For instance: After he graduated from Wharton, Manhattan was Donald Trump’s post-graduate school. He majored in making money, but minored in sex, taking full advantage of the times and the extraordinary opportunities they offered to indulge in consequence-free promiscuity, “my second business,” Trump recalled. “If I hadn’t got married, who knows what would have happened? You had drugs, women and… Continue reading

May 13 2016

And speaking of Extell and the collapsing luxury condo market…

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WWD’s story today on Nordstrom’s announcement of a steep drop in quarterly earnings buries a bombshell about the department store chain’s future Manhattan flagship in the final paragraph. Though the building thast will house it, Extell’s latest West 57th Street supertall, is already under construction, a statement from the store is ominous: “Plans for our Manhattan full-line store, which we expect to open in 2019, ultimately include owning a condominium interest in a mixed-use tower and leasing certain nearby properties. As of Jan. 30, we had approximately $176 million of fee interest in land, which is expected to convert to the condominium interest once the store is constructed. We have committed to make future… Continue reading

It isn’t only luxury condos crashing: Hedgies are dropping, too

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Today’s New York Times highlights one reason why Manhattan’s high-end condo market is collapsing, as Extell founder Gary Barnett admitted yesterday. James B. Stewart writes that investments in hedge funds, the financial high fliers that funded much of the condo boom, are dropping as dramatically as construction cranes. Stewart quotes Daniel Loeb, founder of the Third Point hedge fund and owner of one of the largest penthouses at uber-condo Fifteen Central Park West (shown with his wife Margaret Munzer Loeb on the front of one of their elaborate Christmas cards): “There is no doubt that we are in the first innings of a washout in hedge funds.” Loeb’s funds finished in the red in 2015, according to Institutional Investor’s… Continue reading

May 12 2016

The Collapse of the Crane King

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What a shame the Wall Street Journal is hidden behind a firewall, so Extell developer Gary Barnett‘s belated acknowledgment yesterday of the collapse of Manhattan’s high-end condo market mostly passed unnoticed. Let’s rectify that. As noted here long ago, while big building boosters were still singing its praises, sales stalled at Barnett’s ugly One57 tower (referred to in these parts as the Blue Penis). More than a fifth of the building’s apartments have failed to sell and Extell has marked down its potential sellout value by $162 million–enough to buy a record setting condo, one might add. “There’s a lot of stuff that is chasing what happened three years ago or four years ago when there was a boom,” Barnett told the WSJ…. Continue reading

May 5 2016

Throwback Thursday

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Click the image to read Bridget Foley on the persistence of fashion plagiarism (or is it inspiration?) from the new issue of WWD. UPDATE: The original New York Times article is here. Continue reading

May 2 2016

Horse manure spreads….

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Gripepad has refrained from schadenfreude in response to the legal clouds hanging over Bill DeBlasio and anti-carriage-horse group NYCLASS’ co-founder Steve Nislick, but today’s Daily Beast confirms and adds detail to a scoop first published here in 2009 in “It’s Parkingtown, Jake,” revealing that Nislick’s advocacy against the historic Central Park attractions is likely more about real estate than animal welfare. Gripepad first mentioned this brouhaha in 2008, and has followed it ever since. “Clap Your Hands Say Neigh” followed a New York Post scoop on a NYCLASS proposal to replace the horses with amusement park rides. Then, in “Let’s Talk Horse Sense,” a 2011 column in Crain’s New York, Gripepad revealed NYCLASS’… Continue reading

April 27 2016

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

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“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

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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”

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.”

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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

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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”

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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