Archive for February, 2009

A Kinder, Gentler Clawback??

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The image of former Merrill Lynch boss (and 740 Park penthouse owner) John Thain‘s wife asking for a plain paper bag when she went shopping at Herm├Ęs not long ago — and then being ridiculed for it — highlights the disconnect between the media’s “the sky is falling” reporting on the economy and the real big picture. The big picture is that people need to be encouraged to start spending again, albeit more carefully, not be shunned for it. So herewith a modest proposal. Since, Andrew Cuomo notwithstanding, odds are we’ll never be able to claw back big bonuses from … Continue reading

Book-Banning Stores Go Bye-bye

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No one wants to see a store close — any store, especially a book store, and especially now — but there may be an element of karma in yesterday’s announcement of the closing of almost a third of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s two dozen retail stores. For the last several years, the Met’s stores have repeatedly banned books — n.b.: my recent 740 Park among them — for sins real and imagined against the museum and favored donors and benefactors. The very wealthy museum has experienced periodic contractions before (a subject dealt with at great length in my forthcoming … Continue reading

Cuomo vs. Thain

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Dealbook reveals that NY AG Andrew Cuomo is not taking no for an answer from 740 Park penthouse owner John Thain.

Rogues’ Release: The Morning After

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Fashion Week Daily revealed on Friday (above) that the publication date of Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum has been advanced a week to May 5, 2009. That’s the morning after the Costume Institute’s annual gala at the museum (aka The Party of the Year and Anna’s Party) celebrating the opening of its show The Model As Muse and the same day that the big spring Impressionist and Modern Art auctions will be held at Sothebys and Christies. Kudos to all at Broadway Books, who clearly appreciate that publishing is … Continue reading

My Wife on Desperate Housewives

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A sweater from Bibelot, the steamin’ hot line designed by my wife Barbara Hodes, appeared on the luscious Teri Hatcher on Desperate Housewives on Sunday. Watch the clip, above. She’s the one who keeps her sweater on.

There is such a thing as “Too Many Trophies”

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And suddenly there is only one 740 Park apartment on the market —Serena Boardman of Sothebys’ listing of the apartment (4/5C) formerly occupied by the late Randolph and June Speight. Aging I-banker Peter Huang‘s duplex next door (4/5D), which had been listed at $38 million (maintenance $10,574), is not (despite reports here and elsewhere) in contract. Rather, it’s off the market. So is the Courtney Sale Ross double duplex (12/13 C&D), which was never formally on the market, but was being not-so-quietly floated by the broker Edward Lee Cave. Reports had the Ross apartment unlisted at $60 million; actually the … Continue reading

Rate-Jacked

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The story on rate-jacking in today’s New York Post struck home because it just happened to me. Citibank used some of its government bailout money to send me a letter raising the effective annual percentage rate on my Visa card almost 50% higher than it had been, and informed me that unless I accepted the new rate, the card would be cancelled on expiration. What to do? I let them jack the rate because it’s an airline rewards card (and I pay it off in full every month, anyway). But I am also moving all my savings and checking accounts, … Continue reading

I’ve Got a Little List

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In today’s New York magazine, Beth Landman looks at vacancies, real and imagined, at 740 Park Avenue. Lucky for those dying to live there, though the list one broker keeps of aging widows in the building is now down to one name, the owners of once-hot hedge funds and executives of on-the-dole banks are re-filling those soon-to-sell wishlists.

What, Me Ponzi?

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In a post from last month that I just caught up with, the blog Zero Hedge hints that another Bernie-Madoff-style tempest may be brewing in the teapot that is 740 Park. “A notable figure in the HF [hedge fund] community, who shall remain nameless but who has been rumored to himself have certain dabblings in the world of beginning P and ending in onzi, can be located on over 20,000 sq. feet in another duplex, at twice the altitude that Ezra sniffs Park avenue’s rarefied air,” author Tyler Durden writes. Alas, there are eight HF notables in the building, so … Continue reading

Midnight Express

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The Turkish museum director who played inside man in the theft of two items from a famous looted treasure has been sentenced to thirteen years in prison. The Lydian Hoard was discovered in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in the early 1970s after it was looted from a tomb dating to the era of King Croesus. It was finally returned by the Metropolitan after a long legal battle and then the two pieces, a coin and a brooch, disappeared. They have still not been recovered. Somehow, the Metropolitan curators who originally bought the entire looted treasure managed to stay … Continue reading

R.I.P. Book Soup’s Glenn Goldman

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Glenn Goldman, owner of the awesome and irreplaceable bookstore Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, has died way too young. He’d just put the store up for sale. I pray to God somebody saves it.

Neigh Sayers

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The comments on curbed.com’s coverage of the Great Carriage Horse Conspiracy (see post immediately below this one) are priceless, if slightly obscene. And a commenter at Cityfile reveals that the anti-horses forces have hired lobbyists of their own.

It’s Parkingtown, Jake

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Could a real-estate grab by a parking lot mogul be the hidden agenda behind the latest development in the campaign against Central Park’s beloved carriage horses? I would never question the motives of animal activists, even though I disagree with some of their goals and tactics. But a document that landed in my in-box last night makes me wonder if those wailing about the allegedly mistreated horses aren’t in fact unknowing dupes of rich and powerful real estate interests — specifically Edison Properties, a real estate development and management company based in Newark, New Jersey, though its businesses operate in … Continue reading

Neigh-Sayers Rear Up

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Yesterday’s post (just below) on the threat to New York’s carriage horses got some linkage here and here and here, as well as some Facebook comments. Here is a sampling of those: “agree 100%. I’m serious. Let’s all start a petition and write Bloomie!” E.F.S. “Banning those great horses for cars. The world just gets worse and worse… ” K.P. “I just read your article about the carriage horses, what a shame if they leave new york, they almost seem like tradition at this point… to see them leave would really be sad. you have a very good idea to … Continue reading

Take a Swig

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Crain’s New York Business reports today on the Great Recession-related troubles of another 740 Park resident, Kent Swig.

Clap Your Hands Say Neigh

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Today’s trial balloon in the New York Post, proposing that New York’s carriage horses be replaced by fake Model Ts, would be laughable were it not actually possible. Carriage horses are the only thing about the traffic at the bottom of Central Park that are civilized. Cars routinely break traffic laws there right under the nose of New York’s NYPD whose officers sit in their squad cars watching and doing nothing about it. Garbage trucks and construction vehicles hurtle noisily along CPS and the nearby streets, grinding and slamming with bone-rattling impunity. City buses regularly make wide, dangerous and illegal … Continue reading

Skiing while the economy burned

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Today’s New York Times Business section has a devastating account of the fall of Wall Street titan and 740 Park penthouse owner John Thain. It seems he was skiing in Vail in December as the rot at Merrill Lynch revealed itself. And after his forced resignation, he wandered the halls, muttering that all would be lost without him. A performance worthy of Nero himself. Vanity, thy name is Thain.

Ingemar Johansson, RIP

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The great Swedish heavweight boxing champ Ingemar Johansson died Friday. I’d been meaning to sell the autographed print I have of him knocking out Floyd Patterson at Yankee Stadium to take the title in 1959 (it’s above), and today’s obituary in the New York Times reminded to me do so. It’s listed on ebay now.