Archive for May, 2016

FOCUS on Bert Stern

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Bert Stern died in 2013 just as I was starting work on Focus, in which he plays a leading role as the one of the most significant fashion photographers of the 1960s. By the time of his death, forty years after a drug-induced nervous breakdown that ended his decade-long run at Vogue, Stern’s fashion work had been mostly forgotten, overwhelmed by the notoriety of his famous “last sitting” with Marilyn Monroe. Since his death, Stern’s widow and heir, Shannah Laumeister, and his children by his first wife, the prima ballerina Allegra Kent, have been fighting over his estate in New … Continue reading

“A sizzling, gossipy read,” says Hamptons Magazine

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R. Couri Hay offers a sneak peek at Focus in the Memorial Day issue of Hamptons magazine. “Relentless reporting,” Hay writes, “lays bare the lives of Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Terry Richardson, Irving Penn, Bert Stern, David Bailey, Bill King, Gilles Bensimon and other visionaries…” Focus “strips their universe down to its underpinnings.” UPDATE: Focus is also featured in this month’s issues of Avenue at the Beach and The Daily Summer, which calls it a “don’t miss…must-read.”

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] … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

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.

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!”

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 … Continue reading

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 … 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 … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

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.

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 … Continue reading