Archive for December, 2013

The pause that refreshes

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Gripepad is taking a week off. See you in 2014.

Xmas Scrooge Alert: Tips and the Iceberg Rich

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Today’s New York Post has a laugh-riot story by Jane Ridley on Christmas staff tipping rituals in better buildings like 740 Park and 15 Central Park West. Read it and remember, they know if you’ve been bad or good so you better tip good for goodness sake!

Edgar Bronfman, RIP

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Seagrams heir Edgar Bronfman, second owner of the triplex penthouse atop 740 Park built for Elecrta Havemeyer and J. Watson Webb, and now occupied by for United Technologies head George David, has died at age 84. He paid $235,000 for the massive spread in 1961, and still owned it when his son Sam was famously kidnapped in 1975–though he’d moved to Fifth Avenue. His living room, designed by Albert Hadley, is shown. Late in 1979, Edgar finally sold the penthouse for $600,000 to Steven J. Ross, the head of Warner Communications.

NYC real estate reaches for nine figures

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In today’s New York Post, real estate editor David Kaufman offered a sneak peek at my cover story in the January/February issue of Departures, “The Hunt for the $100 Million Apartment,” on the race by real estate developers to jump that nine-figure hurdle. The starting gun, of course, was Sandy Weill‘s sale of his penthouse at 15 Central Park West, subject of the forthcoming House of Outrageous Fortune. Neither the Post story nor Departures’ is online (I will post the Departures piece here once it’s unlocked in a few weeks), but you can read the Post item and see Departures’ … Continue reading

“Well-told…full of both contempt and admiration…overindulgence…irony…”

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Publisher’s Weekly just issued its advance review of House of Outrageous Fortune: “Gross takes a building, Fifteen Central Park West, and uses it to describe the face-off between exclusive co-ops and democratic condos, and between the old families of the Upper East Side and upstarts moving into the Upper West Side,” it says in part. “The book is at its best when describing how architect Robert Arthur Morton Stern exercised every creative instinct to maximize profit and stay within New York’s complex zoning requirements….As the selling of 15CPW condos parallels the financial crisis, Gross plays with the irony that the … Continue reading

Bob Diamond: Out of 15CPW, into Africa

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Robert Diamond, the former head of Barclay’s, ousted due to the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal, licks his wounds in a penthouse at Fifteen Central Park West, as first revealed by this writer in Newsweek last January, but according to a Reuters story today, he’s hungering for a comeback….in African banking. “He has made no secret of his plans to invest in Africa, the location for much of his family foundation’s work and a continent considered ripe for strong banking growth because much of the population does not have access to banking services,” the story says, adding, “Diamond could be required to … Continue reading

Much Ado About River House

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Having put itself back on the map this February, River House, the storied co-operative overlooking the East River, has been vigorous about keeping its name in the news throughout 2013. My second column on the building, revealing the story and the controversy behind its attempt to dispose of the premises of the equally august River Club–for a record $130 million–is out today in the December issue of Avenue magazine. The New York Observer also has an item today on Uma Thurman‘s purchase of a River House apartment. The February River House Unreal Estate column is linked here.

15 CPW book is “deliciously detailed and completely engaging.” –Booklist

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The first review of House of Outrageous Fortune is out this month in Booklist, the American Library Association’s magazine. The book “looks beyond the list of notable tenants,” says the starred review, “to explore the changes in the architectural and social landscape of elite Manhattan….Drawing on interviews with real-estate titans and power brokers, Gross provides a deliciously detailed and completely engaging look at how the 0.1 percent live.”

Grande Damn! Vreeland lives.

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The late Diana Vreeland’s grandson Alexander Vreeland and his wife Lisa Immordino have turned her legacy into a cottage industry. My review of their latest production, Memos: The Vogue Years, is in today’s New York Post books section.