Category: 740Blog

A leak out of Focus:  Dick Avedon’s double life

Posted by in |

In his column today, Richard Johnson of the New York Post reports on the revelation in Focus that twice-married Richard Avedon, a major character in the book, was secretly bisexual. It’s but one of dozens of secrets spilled in the story of fashion photography’s glory years.  What’s next? Stay tuned for more…

Are you down with RPP (Rich People’s Problems)?

Posted by in |

I revisit 740 Park, the subject of my 2005 book, in “Fire, Floods, Theft: The Plagues of 740″, in today’s New York Post. All the story is missing is locusts. See if you can ID the frog in the lily pond. UPDATE: Mail Online picked up the story too.

Plague Days at 740 Park

Posted by in |

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

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

Posted by in |

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

Horse manure spreads….

Posted by in |

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

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

Posted by in |

“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 … Continue reading

David Koch joins the homeless

Posted by in |

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.

740 Park Rumor Mill Update

Posted by in |

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?

Temperatures rising over 740 Park fire

Posted by in |

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 … Continue reading

JUST IN: Who got Merkined at 740 Park

Posted by in |

No word yet on how yesterday’s bonfire of 740 Park’s vanities started in Ezra Merkin‘s laundry room, but an inside source offers this who-else-got-hit report: Severe damage was suffered by Julia and David Koch, beneath Merkin, and Dana and Andrew Stone beneath the Kochs, “due to fire ‘n’ flooding. Heavy smoke inundated the homes of former 740 co-op board president Alice Tisch, above Merkin, and fashion’s Vera Wang, above Tisch and her husband. At least one of the victims is blaming building management and the super, and demanding a change. Meantime, security guards have been posted at all entrances and … Continue reading

When neighbors attack

Posted by in |

Unmentioned in all the coverage of the fire yesterday in the apartment of Bernie Madoff associate Ezra Merkin at fabled 740 Park Avenue is the likelihood that he has two very angry and water-damaged downstairs neighbors.  But who are the folks who will be calling their lawyers, insurance agents, decorators and architects today?  Directly beneath Merkin is none other than financier David Koch, perhaps the building’s most controversial resident, along with wife Julia.  And beneath the Kochs reside Dana and Andrew Stone, the latter a banker with a fierce reputation.  Tops dogs in monied circles, they unfortunately both sleep in … Continue reading

740 Park Board President at Scene of Fire

Posted by in |

George David, owner of a penthouse and president of the board of the 740 Corporation is shown here on the scene of the fire in Bernie Madoff-feeder Ezra Merkin‘s apartment at 740 Park Avenue. Check back for updates. UPDATE: Patch reports that two firefighters were injured on the scene.

Breaking: Fire at 740 Park in home of Madoff-associate Ezra Merkin’s apartment

Posted by in |

As many as two dozen fire vehicles are outside 740 Park and a source inside the building says there is a fire in the sixth and seventh floor duplex apartment of embattled financier Ezra Merkin.

Turkey? Or just a failed flip?

Posted by in |

Reports surfaced yesterday of an epic flip fail at 15 Central Park West after the LLC that bought it last year sold for a small loss.  Sigh.  The original purchaser, pharmaceutical exec Richard Ullman, doubled his $24 million investment in the almost decade old tower.  But he actually lived there until his death.  The flipper, now out, should have known, you can’t  win ‘em all. Balloons will fly beneath its windows today.  Let’s hope they don’t deflate, too.  

Another one bites the dust: RIP Bookhampton

Posted by in |

Truly sad news in the inbox last night: Bookhampton, the multi-door east end independent bookseller, will close shop after this holiday season–unless a white knight comes along to save it. There are no words. And after December, there will literally be none left out there. Anyone want to step up and save the day?

740 Park loses record, gains footnote

Posted by in |

Curbed reports that Len Blavatnik, who left the Soviet Union in 1978 but still profited from its collapse via a partnership with Russian oligarch Vikor Vekselberg, has set a new New York co-op sales record with his $77.5 million purchase of New York Jets Woody Johnson‘s 14 room duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue. The previous record holder was 740 Park, where hedgie Israel “Izzy” Englander bought a second apartment in September for $71.3 million. 740, of course, had held that record previously, thanks to private equity poobah Steve Schwarzman‘s 1999 $29.9 million purchase of what had been Saul Steinberg’s duplex … Continue reading

15CPW Takes Some Cake

Posted by in |

The New York Observer’s Kim Velsey reports that Deutsche Bank’s Michael Lewis has sold his three-bedroom apartment at the Limestone Jesus for $25.92 million, well under his $29.99 million asking price. The Observer tentatively identifies the buyer as Asian private equity mogul Michael Kim. With the sale complete, I think it can be revealed that Alex Gibney filmed his interview with me for his film Park Avenue, based on 740 Park, in Lewis’s dining room (shown), and the setting sun view over my shoulder throughout is the one Lewis family enjoyed on a nightly basis.

RIP Kim Fowley

Posted by in |

I spent a few days with the rock legend Kim Fowley in the ’70s. This is, believe it or not, a great memory.

All I want for Christmas/Chanuka is an $88 million penthouse

Posted by in |

But seriously, with the start of Chanuka just nine days away, why not buy your beloved a book? For art lovers just back from Art Basel, there’s Rogues’ Gallery, which the New York Times Book Review called “A blockbuster exhibition of human achievement and flaws.” Prefer real estate? But is your recipient a condo or a cooperative person? For the former, there’s House of Outrageous Fortune, the story of Manhattan’s sui generis record-setting condo, Fifteen Central Park West. “The intersecting strands of money, politics, greed, taste, ambition shine brightly,” Manuela Holterhoff of Bloomberg News wrote of the book. And cooperators … Continue reading

740 Park a New York Times bestseller!

Posted by in |

More than nine years after it was first published, 740 Park just appeared at #18 on the New York Times e-book bestseller list. Thanks to all who put it there!

Pied-a-tax?

Posted by in |

The New York Times tomorrow offers a compelling argument for taxing the owners of the often-empty pied-a-terre luxury condominium apartments that have filled Manhattan and coincidentally raised the price of real estate beyond the reach of many who actually want to live here. Bravo.

Get 740 Park at Queens Village prices!!!

Posted by in |

The kindly folks at Random House are offering the e-book of 740 Park at the bargain basement price of $1.99 for the next ten days. You can buy and download it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

How I Spent my Mexico City vacation

Posted by in |

Eating!

Correction: Angier Biddle Duke at 740 Park

Posted by in |

Biddle Duke, son of Robin and Angier Biddle Duke, once residents of 740 Park Avenue (that’s the late Angier in the photo with JFK, whom he worked for), came to my book on the building a few years late. He takes belated issue with several sentences in it, so I offered to print his note to me verbatim here, and he agreed. He writes: Dear Mr. Gross, This is mostly a useless exercise, because the ink’s long dry now on 740 Park. All I can say is that I wish you’d called me about Mom and Dad, Robin and Angie … Continue reading

The King of the Dinsosaurs and other tales of power in the city

Posted by in |

The October issue of Avenue is out this week and is now available to read online. In today’s New York Post, Richard Johnson previews the cover story on 740 Park resident David Koch‘s philanthropy. The controversial conservative demonstrated his considerable sense of humor when he posed for us wearing a dinosaur tie (click the cover at right to see it) in front of two dinosaur skeletons at the American Museum of Natural History, one of the institutions he favors. The issue, which I guest-edited, also features this year’s Avenue A-List (are you on it?), a previously unpublished interview with the … Continue reading

Izzy Does It

Posted by in |

Hedgie Israel Englander‘s purchase of the French government’s duplex at 740 Park Avenue for a co-op-record-setting $71,277,500 hit public records over the weekend. Assuming he plans to combine his new palace with his existing one, a flight above, to create a massive triplex, Englander will likely top upstairs moneybags neighbor Stephen Schwarzman , and be able to claim ownership of the most impressive spread in the luxury building. Square footage in co-ops is difficult to compute, but his current fourteenth floor apartment (shown at left), one of the building’s few simplexes, which he’s owned since 2000, sprawls across 740′s entire … Continue reading

The other tower of power

Posted by in |

Business Insider touts 740 Park as the Billionaire’s Hive this week. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.

Ganek, Ganek, Gone…..

Posted by in |

Hedgie David Ganek bought the 740 Park duplex where Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy grew up (in an apartment provided to her father “Black Jack” Bouvier by her grandfather, 740 developer James T. Lee) just before 740 Park was published. Now, having purchased a loft at Jared Kushner‘s renovated Puck Building just after Departures published my story featuring the lavish home, Ganek’s put his 740 unit on the market via Sothebys’ broker Serena Boardman, asking $44 million.

Eileen Ford, RIP

Posted by in |

I just learned that fashion modeling pioneer Eileen Ford, 92, died today. Her life story is fully told in Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, which can be ordered via links on this web site. UPDATE: Here are obits from the Los Angeles Times (which was so nice, they did the obit twice) and the New York Times.

Is it Izzy?

Posted by in |

Curbed reports today that the French government’s apartment at 740 Park Avenue has been sold, according to Paris Match, to upstairs neighbor Israel “Izzy” Englander after a bidding war that saw the price soar millions over ask to tie the current co-op sale record of $70 million. Englander, a secretive hedge fund runner, is unlikely to confirm or expand, but his history and that of his current apartment–a rare, sprawling 740 simplex, are spelled out in 740 Park. And if the report is true, he will climb over his upstairs neighbor Steve Schwartzman to become 740′s big man on campus. … Continue reading

Another sale (and multi-million-dollar profit) at 15CPW

Posted by in |

Apartment 15K at 15CPW, a three-bedroom spread with a balcony, albeit one without a park view, has sold for a second time for just over $13 million. It was first purchased off plans by Evan Cole, co-founder of ABC Home, who sold it a month after taking possession in March 2008. As reported in House of Outrageous Fortune, Cole sold it “to an investment manager in Chicago, whose son would eventually occupy the apartment. Cole thought they were ‘Goldman Sachs people,’ he says, ‘but I didn’t look. They’re probably smarter than me. I’m sure it’s worth millions more than they … Continue reading

Hedgie Havens

Posted by in |

Fifteen Central Park West and 740 Park Avenue are well-represented on Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine list of the top-earning hedge fund runners for 2013. SAC Capital’s Steven A. Cohen comes in at #2. Though he isn’t a resident of either building, Raj Sethi and Derek Cribbs of that firm both own apartments at 15. Coming in at No. 5 on the Rich List, with estimated earnings of just under $1 billion, is Citadel’s Kenneth Griffin, who rented at 15 after deciding not to buy. Just beneath Griffen, with earnings of $850 million last year is 740 Park’s Israel “Izzy” Englander … Continue reading

Help Save Bookhampton

Posted by in |

This heartbreaking letter just arrived from the wonderful Bookhampton book stores: Dear Friends and Neighbors and BookLovers: The most wonderful part of owning BookHampton has been the discovery of new books and the camaraderie of fellow readers. The saddest part is the awareness that all things, even those we cherish most, have days that are numbered. The frozen Winter and this very chilly Spring caught BookHampton in a grip that has brought us to our knees. We’re fighting to have one more Summer, and not to be bowed by the writing on the wall that forced our colleagues to close … Continue reading

Gripepad Exclusive: $45 million saves River Club

Posted by in |

River House–a frequent subject in this space–released a statement today revealing that a letter of intent has been signed to keep the private River Club inside the esteemed cooperative apartment house. What was not revealed was the price, but Gripepad has confirmed with an inside source that it is a $45 million deal. Not quite the $130 million the building claimed to be seeking for the premises–it also claimed that was not a negotiating ploy–but not chump change, either. So though on a blogging hiatus while traveling, Gripepad thought you should know.

$100 million–or bust!

Posted by in |

Who will sell New York’s first $100 million apartment? Where will it be? How staggering its views? How starchitect-y its design? And who will buy it? A Hedgie? A Saudi? A cloaking LLC? That inevitability is the subject of my cover story in the January-February issue of Departures, the luxury travel magazine. It’s now unlocked to read online.

Grazing the news for Gripepad obsessions

Posted by in |

Noted without comment: The last few days have seen several of Gripepad’s obsessions flitting hither and yon in the news. Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour , who appears on the cover of Rogues’ Gallery, has been rewarded for her fundraising and cheerleading efforts on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute with the naming of its newly-renovated galleries in her honor. The board of directors of 995 Fifth Avenue, just across the street from that museum, has sued One57 developer, the cantilever and crane-crazy Extell (and a partner) for breach of contract and fraud “in the construction, … Continue reading

Xmas Scrooge Alert: Tips and the Iceberg Rich

Posted by in |

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

Posted by in |

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.

Another seller at 740 Park: Got $29.5 million?

Posted by in |

Plagued by bad press this summer due to a series of petty thefts (petty for them, at least), 740 Park is back in the news today thanks to the listing of its fourth floor D-line apartment by investment banking’s Peter Huang. The apartment was infamous when Huang was still married to his first wife, Nancy Stoddart, whose friends from the Studio 54 set often came to keep partying there after-hours. Priced at $29.5 million, the unit, which overlooks 71st Street, is likely a fixer-upper. So if you’re handy as well as wealthy, pounce! The listing belongs to Kyle Blackmon, famous … Continue reading

Another Outrageous Endorsement

Posted by in |

Another advance reader of House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World’s Most Powerful Address, author-journalist Dana Thomas, author of Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, says, “Want to understand what Occupy Wall Street was about? In House of Outrageous Fortune, Michael Gross explains it–and then some. With a rollicking, informative history of New York City, tales of mega real estate fortunes made and lost, and dizzying examples of the super-wealthy’s greed and ostentation, Gross deftly traces the arc of America both socially and financially and proves that the top two percent most certainly do not live like … Continue reading

Income Inequality: The CNN Reading List

Posted by in |

John Sutter of CNN.com has crowd-sourced a list of 99 must-read books on income inequality, presumably for the 99%, though some of the 1% might do well to read a few of them. My 740 Park makes the list at #30, between titles by George Bernard Shaw and Jonathan Kozol. Isn’t that rich?

An outrageous endorsement

Posted by in |

William D. Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World and House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, and a Contributing Editor of Vanity Fair, is the latest early reader to praise the forthcoming House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World’s Most Powerful Address. “Michael Gross has done it again!” he writes. “In intricate and revelatory detail, he shows how Fifteen Central Park West became the most famous and talked-about building in Manhattan: It’s the people who live there, of course, and Gross gives us … Continue reading

Cherchez la Monnaie: It’s inside 740 Park!

Posted by in |

Yesterday’s revelation of a series of jewel heists at 740 Park led to a series of followups today in the New York Post and on CNN, among other outlets. You can watch the CNN video here. The Post reveals that the victims include Danielle Ganek, whose husband’s hedge fund “agreed to pay the feds more than $21.5 million for its role in an insider-trading scheme” and Lauren Merkin, whose husband Ezra “was charged with civil fraud for allegedly steering $2.4 billion in client money to Bernie Madoff.” The Post missed the fact that victim #3 was Caryl Englander, whose husband … Continue reading

Does 740 Park have a Pink Panther (or was it an inside job)?

Posted by in |

Today’s Page Six lede and New York Post wood reveal a series of minor jewel heists at the legendary 740 Park cooperative, the 20th Century’s tower of financial power and the subject of this author’s 2005 book. Per the Post, the missing items are a wedding ring here, a watch there. Is the perp terrifically clever, stealing only things that won’t be missed? Or are they like opportunistic shoplifters grabbing penny candy from the counter? Not to cast aspersions, but per this report, it sounds like sticky-fingered support staff are more likely responsible than some savvy criminal mastermind.

House of Outrageous Fortune: Now available for pre-orders

Posted by in |

House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World’s Most Powerful Address is now available for pre-orders on Amazon by clicking here. Publication date is March 11, 2014. I’ll post a bn.com link as soon as it, too, becomes available.

Koch is Chill(ing)

Posted by in |

Via Bloomberg View, author William D. Cohan adds his voice to the chorus of condemnation aimed at billionaire Tea Party pal and 740 Park resident David Koch (shown greeting the late New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg at an obviously bipartisan 2010 party) in an essay titled “David Koch’s Chilling Effect on Public Television.” Cohan is commenting on The New Yorker’s recent revelation about attempts by public television executives to placate Koch over critical coverage–in Alex Gibney‘s documentary Park Avenue, based on 740 Park, and another film–and Cohan links those concerns to government snooping on phone calls and the Internet. “Just … Continue reading

“Scoop and poop,” says Cindy Adams

Posted by in |

My latest book, House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World’s Most Powerful Address, is coming in March 2014 from Atria Books, Cindy Adams reveals in her New York Post column today (scroll down past Bernie Kerik. Mixing up her Midases a bit (understandable in an era when there are so many making and managing new money), the gossip great names a few 740 Park “inmates” as characters in the new book, but this time, the “scoop and poop” will be about Lloyd Blankfein and Sandy Weill, not Steve Schwarzman and Henry Kravis, and Dan Loeb and Dan … Continue reading

Gibney’s 740 Park documentary in eye of PBS storm

Posted by in |

Alex Gibney‘s documentary Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream, based on my book 740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building, aired worldwide last fall and is currently available for sale or rental in the iTunes store and on Hulu (as well as free online in the truncated-for-broadcast PBS version via Youtube). This week’s issue of The New Yorker is led by a story about Gibney’s film, detailing the pressure put on WNET, New York’s public television station, for broadcasting it. Though this is hardly the first time a wealthy subject has pushed back against revealing … Continue reading

How do you really feel, Gwyneth?

Posted by in |

Did someone say, how was your weekend? Well, busy. First we were unwillingly evacuated from our home. So I didn’t have time to post about NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon listing his apartment at 15 Central Park West, subject of my just-completed next book, or about France selling the home of its UN ambassador at 740 Park, subject of an earlier real estate opus. Then, Le Monde published a story on the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute and its ball quoting my Rogues’ Gallery, and Gwyneth Paltrow, one of the select invited guests, opined that, “It sucked.” And finally, my exile on … Continue reading

The Schwarzman Challenge

Posted by in |

In the last pages of 740 Park, written nine years ago, I challenged Stephen Schwarzman to live up to the standard set by John D. Rockefeller Jr., who’d once owned the private-equity chief’s apartment in that fabled building, and add significant philanthropy to his resume. It took a few years, but Schwarzman did take up that challenge, as has been noted in this space. Today’s New York Times finds the Blackstone boss in China, giving away money for good again, donating a third of the cost of a new $300 million scholarship program for study in China, and helping raise … Continue reading