Archive for January, 2009

Red Tag Day

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The New York Observer’s Max Abelson reports a first —a price chop at 740 Park Avenue. The late June Speight’s apartment is now on offer for $26 million — $9 million off its original asking price. Run, don’t walk. to get in on this humungous bargain!

Walter Noel’s Getaway

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As the head of a feeder fund that helped sustain Bernard Madoff‘s alleged Ponzi scheme, Walter Noel got very, very rich — so rich, he was able to build Yemanja (above), a hilltop house the size of a boutique hotel for himself and his family (with eight bedrooms, two bunkhoues for children and staff housing, too) on the exclusive Caribbean island of Mustique. I visited that house, which rents for about $50,000 a week, not long ago, reporting this story on Mustique, just published in Travel + Leisure‘s February 2009 issue. The Noel manse didn’t make the cut, which is … Continue reading

Commissions, please

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Attention all residents of 740 Park: According to Kelvin Browne in today’s National Post of Canada, while apartments in other east side buildings lose their value, yours “continue to command premium prices,” Peter Huang‘s long-on-the-market duplex is now in contract and it’s all thanks to 740 Park, the book. So I hope that when John Thain, Ezra Merkin, et al think of selling their trophy homes, they will also think of sending a few crumbs of thanks my way. They won’t make up for my (relatively pitiful but still painful) stock market losses, but they may salve the wounds. UPDATE: … Continue reading

The rich get poorer

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John Thain, the former head of Merrill Lynch, lost his new-ish job with Bank of America today, after it discovered large losses at the brokerage that it bought a few weeks back. Thain, who was running the New York Stock Exchange when he bought the smallest but most beautiful penthouse at 740 Park as a city pied-a-terre for $27.5 million in 2006, is the latest resident of the storied apartment house to find his good fortune tarnished in the Great Recession. This news comes just a day after it was revealed that a year ago, Thain had spent $1.22 million … Continue reading

Back in the spotlight… again

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New York’s Daily News and England’s Guardian both peeked past the doormen at 740 Park today. The News focused on Ezra Merkin, the whipping boy du jour for the Great Recession. The Guardian piece fascinates me more because back when 740 Park was first published, no British publisher would take it on. Their reason? Or at least the one they told me? It was “too New York.” I told myself that was just as well because publishing “investigative” non-fiction there is a hairy business thanks to England’s status as the favorite destination for what are called libel tourists — people … Continue reading

What Goes Around Turns Around

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Every once in a while, people get angry with journalists and authors who write about them. John Casablancas, the founder of Elite Models, was livid when my book Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women was published and even threatened to sue me over my portrayal of his life and times. So imagine my surprise when he invited me to lunch through a relative of mine, Harvey Tanton, who happens to be his accountant. That’s us (above), making peace and catching up at Rue 57 today. It’s good to know that time heals some wounds.

Jerkin’ Merkin and Mad Matt

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James Doran of the New York Post reports that New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has 740 Park resident Ezra Merkin in his sights, and is weighing an investigation of his role in Bernard Madoff‘s massive Ponzi scheme. Oddly, although lots of people are wondering what the co-op board and neighbors at 740 are thinking about Merkin, whose apartment was worth about $35 million before September’s money meltdown, I’ve yet to see much speculation about the 133 East 64th Street co-op where Madoff owns a penthouse and is (or was until recently) president of the board. Back at Christmas … Continue reading

drip… drip… drip

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The slow-mo Bernie Madoff-feuled unraveling of the world of 740 Park’s J. Ezra Merkin (above) continues, says the Financial Times, which reports that Merkin is about to step down as chairman of GMAC, General Motors’ financing arm, following a government bail-out. Several reporters have checked in with Gripebox in the last 48 hours, working on stories about the murky world of Merkin. While we wait for the fruits of their labors, click the 740 Park link to the left to learn more about the man whose co-op board interview at 740 Park was smoother than most, because the guardians of … Continue reading

“To Learn About The Past”

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Thomas Campbell, the new director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, meets the public via YouTube. He doesn’t say much, but hey, it’s his first week on the job. So he’s probably too busy to delve into his institution’s own past, but luckily, someone has done that for him. Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum will be published on May 12th. Campbell makes a cameo apearance in it, too.

One Falls, One Rises

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Two residents of 740 Park have made financial news in recent days. But as Ezra Merkin‘s luster dimmed due to his central role in the alleged Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, Steven Mnuchin‘s future brightened as he put together a team of “a lot of Wall Street’s ‘smartest money,’” according to the Wall Street Journal (online subscription required) to take over the failed mortgage lender, IndyMac. Mnuchin will be its CEO. Mnuchin, who followed his father to Goldman Sachs before going out on his own, lives with his wife Heather deForest Crosby Mnuchin (above with her husband), a descendent of American … Continue reading

Spanking Goliath

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The British archaeologist Colin Renfrew has announced his intention to call out the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its policy on antiquities in a speech he will give in a few days. As usual, the imperial Museum (it always capitalizes its own name) was unresponsive when a Los Angeles Times reporter called for comment. The more things change… UPDATE: The Met finally returned the reporter’s call but Renfrew is unimpressed. UPDATE2: Within days of this report, the Metropolitan posted a new policy on the acquisition of antiquities. [Looting Matters]