Category: GripeBox

“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.

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.

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

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“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

Fashion Notes: #focusyourselfie

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Fashion is dead. Long live fashion. That’s not the news you’ll hear in this week’s relentless run-up to Vogue‘s annual promotional party at the Metropolitan Museum, but it’s the message of “Has Luxury Fashion Priced Itself Into Extinction?” my return-to-fashion-writing essay on The Daily Beast this morning. “The digital culture that’s killing fashion-as-we-know-it could, perversely, prove fashion’s salvation,” it argues. “Alongside the paid bloggers and pampered celebrities flogging $3,000 branded goods on Instagram are just plain folks taking selfies of themselves in outfits that reflect individual creativity, not the needs of vampire corporations sucking quarterly profits from purses and perfume … Continue reading

Library Journal on Focus: “Historically significant”

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In its new issue, Library Journal focuses on Focus. “Tales of famous shoots and industry backstories during the ‘glory days’ of the genre…of the sexual promiscuity and recreational drug use of these (mostly male) photographers,” writes Shauna Frischkorn (a Professor of Photography at Millersville University). “The subject matter will be historically significant to those who are concerned with the photo artist’s role in the golden age of modern fashion photography. VERDICT: Recommended for enthusiasts of fashion and fashion photography.”

David Koch joins the homeless

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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.

Focus: “Sex, drugs, beautiful women, and raw ambition,” says Kirkus Reviews

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Often snarky and always first, Kirkus Reviews, the book review specialist, has published its view of Focus, and calls the book “a gossipy exposé … of the talented, arrogant, philandering, combative, self-aggrandizing photographers whose work appeared in, and defined, such iconic fashion magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, and Elle from 1947 to 1997 … sometimes-tangy, often scurrilous … Not a pretty picture.” I guess they missed they parts about pretty pictures!

FOCUS: Early readers report

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Advance Praise for Focus “I thought I knew practically everything about the fashion industry, but Michael Gross has corrected me. His thoroughly absorbing narrative dazzles with the most profound investigation and research. Focus is an enthralling and riveting read!” – Tim Gunn “Michael Gross’s FOCUS is that rare thing: an equally delicious and deeply informative book, a news-breaking romp through the world of fashion photography, from its beginnings early in the last century to the recent controversial exploits of super bad boy Terry Richardson. Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, Deborah Turbeville, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel: these and so many others whose … Continue reading

740 Park Rumor Mill Update

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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?

One Last Dose of Donald: “Really deep s**t.”

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Donald J. Trump (born in 1946) is an unlikely Baby Boomer, but like it or not, he is one, and was one of nineteen profiled in My Generation, out of print for more than a decade, but now available again as an ebook. The Orlando Sentinel called it “hugely entertaining,” the New York Times Book Review said it was “exhaustively researched,” and the Arizona Republic deemed it “thought provoking, and haunted.” Buy it now by clicking here. Last month, Gripepad highlighted some of Trump’s appearances in the book. In the run-up to New York’s Republican Primary, here is one more … Continue reading

Temperatures rising over 740 Park fire

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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

Kirkus on Focus: “Not a pretty picture of sex, drugs, beautiful women, and raw ambition”

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The first review of Focus calls the book “a gossipy exposé … of the talented, arrogant, philandering, combative, self-aggrandizing photographers whose work appeared in, and defined, such iconic fashion magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, and Elle from 1947 to 1997 … sometimes-tangy, often scurrilous … Not a pretty picture of sex, drugs, beautiful women, and raw ambition.” –Kirkus Reviews, May 2016

JUST IN: Who got Merkined at 740 Park

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Focus is “juicy…fast-paced…insider,” says Devil Wears Prada author Lauren Weisberger

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The Devil Wears Prada was a publishing, fashion and film phenomenon. Its author Lauren Weisberger is the latest early reader of Focus. “I loved reading all the juicy details that Michael uncovered in this fast-paced—and clearly insider—look at the rarefied, sexy world of fashion photography,” she says. Pre-order Focus here.

Panama Papers target 15CPW’s Condo King Rybolovlev

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Today’s Irish Times delves into the leak of “more than 11 million documents, dating from 1977 to December 2015, [that] show the inner workings of Mossack Fonseca, a global law firm based in Panama that helps customers create offshore shelters.” One of those customers is Dmitry Rybolovlev, purchaser (through an LLC, as first revealed in House of Outrageous Fortune) of the once record-setting $88 million penthouse at Fifteen Central Park West (see floor plan). Rybolovlev’s story “illustrates the lengths that spouses, their lawyers and professional trackers must go in search of wealth stashed offshore in complex networks of companies and … Continue reading

Focus is “compelling,” says Anthony Haden-Guest

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Author, journalist and cartoonist Anthony Haden-Guest is the latest early reader to offer an endorsement of Focus. He says, “Michael Gross takes us on a compelling journey through a hugely desirable culture – a culture which sometimes destroyed its most brilliant children and which is now slipping as irretrievably into the past as Versailles or the Swinging 60s.”

Focus: “Exposing photographers,” says New York Post’s Richard Johnson

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In today’s New York Post, gossip King Richard Johnson reveals a tid-bit from the opening pages of Focus, telling how King of the Selfies, photographer Terry Richardson, was dissed by the often naked pop princess Miley Cyrus. “The book, exposing photographers from Richard Avedon to Richardson, is out July 5th,” Johnson writes.

Calvin Klein comes clean?

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Word comes via WWD that retired designer Calvin Klein is “writing” a book, though he adds, “I’m not big on looking back.” For those who would like to look back, Calvin Klein’s masterful advertising is discussed in depth in Focus, out July 5th. Meantime, here is my controversial profile of the designer from 1988 that caused him to pull his advertising from New York magazine for five years.

How Safe is Your Hotel in the Age of Daesh Terror?

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The latest issue of Departures presciently addresses terror and travel in a special section. It’s a subject that seems all the more urgent after this week’s Brussels attacks. My story on the latest in hotel safety is here. The illo is by Owen Freeman.

Focus is “equally delicious and deeply informative,” says Sheila Weller

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“Michael Gross‘s FOCUS is that rare thing: an equally delicious and deeply informative book, a news-breaking romp through the world of fashion photography, from its beginnings early in the last century to the recent controversial exploits of super bad boy Terry Richardson,” says Sheila Weller, the bestselling author of GIRLS LIKE US and THE NEWS SORORITY. “Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, Deborah Turbeville, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel: these and so many others whose work I’ve enjoyed in VOGUE and BAZAAR are given context and smart analysis, and magazine editors and owners appear, too, revealing an industry of art and commerce. An … Continue reading

Focus is “Fabulous…amazing,” says columnist Liz Smith.

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Liz Smith devotes her entire column to an advance peek at Focus today. “It is a phantasmagoria of gossip, history, fabulous times, terrible times; the men (and a couple of women) who turned their creative lenses onto runways, clothes, models and (as in the case of Richard Avedon) onto America itself,” the columnist writes. “If you love fashion and/or the art of photography, this book is for you. But even if you couldn’t care less about the skirts swirled or the fabric bunched, or how Bert Stern or Irving Penn or David Bailey or Bruce Weber or Corinne Day or … Continue reading

Weekend Dose of Donald: How the Angry Populist feathered a nest of Happy Plutocrats

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In which I return to the Daily Beast to tell the tale of how Republican front-runner Donald J. Trump invented the Billionaire’s Belt, or as the Beast puts it, “New York City’s crass luxury hell.” A strange-but-true story based on the book House of Outrageous Fortune.

Nino Cerruti lauds Focus

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Nino Cerruti, the renowned Italian fashion designer and red carpet favorite of Hollywood’s elite, is the latest early reader of Focus: The Sexy, Secret, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers. “Focus is the ‘House of Cards’ of fashion,” Cerruti says.

Tim Gunn on Focus: “Enthralling”

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Project Runway star and former Parsons School of Design chairman Tim Gunn says, “I thought I knew practically everything about the fashion industry, but Michael Gross has corrected me. His thoroughly absorbing narrative dazzles with the most profound investigation and research. Focus is an enthralling and riveting read!”

Daily Dose of Donald: This is Populism?

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In June 1990, for his forty-forth birthday, Donald J. Trump missed a deadline for a $42 million payment on the bonds that financed one of his Atlantic City, NJ, casinos, Trump Castle, and a $30 million payment on a personally guaranteed loan, and Moody’s Investor Services downgraded the ratings of bonds for the Taj and Trump Plaza casinos. “The 1990s sure aren’t anything like the 1980s,” he reportedly said. He’d just returned from promoting his second book, Trump: Surviving at the Top, when the Wall Street Journal revealed that he’d begun negotiations a month earlier to restructure his debt. In … Continue reading

Daily Dose of Donald: Marriage=Boredom

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“I went from one marriage to another, which was a mistake,” Donald J. Trump says in a 1999 interview first reported in My Generation, at last available as an e-book. “Marla [Maples Trump] is a good girl, and I had a good marriage with her, but it’s just that I get fuckin’ bored. One of those little things. Work to me is going on a vacation and sitting around going nuts, because there’s no telephone. So I’m still young enough, and I want to have a good time for a while. I deserve it.”

Daily Dose of Donald: With friends like these…

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In 1973, when the government charged the Trumps with racial discrimination at their rental properties, Donald Trump hired Roy Cohn, the notorious, politically-wired former counsel for Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting Senate investigations subcommittee, as his new lawyer. (He eventually signed a consent decree in that case, but kept Cohn on regardless.) And he hired Louise Sunshine, a fundraiser for New York’s Governor Hugh L. Carey, as his political lobbyist. Read more about the anti-politician Trump’s political pals in My Generation, now in e-book for the first time.

Daily Dose of Donald: Seduction, Trump Style

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As a young man eager to make his mark in Manhattan, Republican front-runner Donald J. Trump wore maroon suits and matching shoes—-a sure sign of an outer-borough boy. His developer father’s business was headquartered in a six-story red brick building in Brooklyn. Donald had business cards made up with the address of his East Side Manhattan apartment. “It was embarrassing,” he says in My Generation, now available as an e-book for the first time. “I couldn’t say I had a Brooklyn office and go out with a model.”

Daily Dose of Donald: Sex and the Single Real Estate Heir

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After he graduated from Wharton, Manhattan became Donald Trump’s graduate school. He majored in making money. He minored in sex, though, taking full advantage of the times and the extraordinary opportunities they offered to indulge in consequence-free promiscuity, “my second business,” Trump recalls in My Generation, now in an e-book for the first time. “If I hadn’t got married, who knows what would have happened? You had drugs, women and booze all over the fuckin’ place.”

Daily Dose of Donald: Draft-dodger?

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The war is not over. In today’s New York Times, a retired Special Forces colonel calls Donald J. Trump a draft-dodger and a coward. In fact, like many of his fellow Baby Boomers “Trump was opposed to the war in Vietnam,” he admits in My Generation, newly available as an e-book. “He ‘saw it as a terrible deal,’ he says. ‘The tremendous conflict at home, while well-intentioned, gave the other side an incentive to keep going, because they knew this country was being ripped apart from within.’” Is that the Donald you know, or the Donald you don’t?

The Daily Donald Flashback: Trump, Understimulated

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As a schoolboy, “I was bored, understimulated,” says Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. “I wanted an energy release.” He found it harassing his teachers, even punching one, though he’d rather talk about throwing chalk at blackboards when they’d turned their backs. “It used to explode if you’d throw it hard,” he recounts with glee in My Generation, now available as an e-book for the first time. @realDonaldTrump #Trump2016 #DonaldTrump #babyboomer

Donald Trump: “I don’t think anybody had more sex than I did. Sex was all over the fucking place.”

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Donald J. Trump (born in 1946) is an unlikely Baby Boomer, but like it or not, he is one, and was one of nineteen profiled in My Generation. Out of print for more than a decade, the book the Orlando Sentinel called “hugely entertaining,” the New York Times Book Review said was “exhaustively researched,” and the Arizona Republic called “thought provoking, and haunted,” is available again as an ebook. Buy it now from Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks. More links (including Nook) will be posted here as they become available.

The Fed: Manhattan luxe real estate market squirms like a slug

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The Federal Reserve Bank says the market for high end real estate in the nation’s hottest market “has been particularly sluggish, reflecting excess supply” since the beginning of the year. You read it here first. Business insider reports the finding and uses Arthur and Will Lie Zeckendorf‘s 15 Central Park West as a symbol of the high water mark, and its slower-selling sibling 50 United Nations Plaza as a marker for today. Sounds like the stunning 50 UN might be a place to park smart money with nearly two-thirds of the apartments sold at discounts as high as sixteen percent.

The Donald, redefined.

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What does presidential front-runner Donald Trump have in common with an LSD chemist, a mad bomber leftist, an Apple Computer coding legend, a bisexual feminist porn star, a Jesus freak turned Queer theorist, an environmental activist, a rabid southern racist, arch-conservative conspirators and unregenerate rock’n’rollers, a ghetto weed dealer, a hanging judge, a Vietnam war hero and a spiritual guru? More than you might think. Meet them all in My Generation: Fifty Years of Sex, Drugs, Rock, Revolution, Glamour Greed, Valor, Faith and Silicon Chips by New York Times best-selling author Michael Gross. “Trenchant… well dramatized… thought provoking and unusual… … Continue reading

Fashion Models: Genetic lottery winners or victims?

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In today’s New York Post, Dana Schuster looks at a class action lawsuit filed by a group of disgruntled former fashion models who claim their agencies exploited, manipulated, stole from them, and lied to them. So what else is new?

Aby, baby (Part 2)

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The embargo has finally lifted on my Centurion magazine (black cards only, kids) profile of the controversial and wildly outspoken real estate developer and art collector Aby Rosen. Read it here.

Michael J. Kennedy, R.I.P.

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Michael Kennedy, a prominent radical lawyer of the Sixties who became a noted Manhattan social figure in the Nineties, died on January 25th at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at age 78. Kennedy was active to the end, and was last spotted by Gripepad at a screening of The Revenant just before Christmas. New York Magazine has remembered “Ivana’s Avenger,” my 1991 cover profile of Kennedy, a story reported and written without his cooperation in the midst of his highest profile case, representing Ivana Trump in her divorce from current presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Horses (with apologies to Patti Smith)

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In “All The Mayor’s Horses,” on The Awl, writer Brendan O’Connor tackles the ticklish and abiding question of New York’s horse carriage trade, which has been a (forgive this) pet subject in this pillar for several years now. In 2009, Gripepad mocked a proposal to replace the carriages with ersatz vintage electric cars. The actual proposal was then sent to me by a carriage proponent, and Gripepad revealed a possible pecuniary motive behind the move to ban the beloved horses: a hunger for the real estate (what else could it be in Manhattan?) the horses’ stables occupied. The Awl cites … Continue reading

Aby, baby

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“The Rise, Fall and Rise of Aby Rosen,” my Centurion magazine profile of the art-collecting real estate developer and operator, is still embargoed, but Rosen has posted it on the web site for his rising tower by Sir Norman Foster, 100 East 53rd Street (pictured), and you can read all about his life, times and frenemies like Ian Schrager, Peter Brant, and the owners of the Four Seasons restaurant there.

Treasury Dept. will follow in footsteps of House of Outrageous Fortune

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The United States Department of the Treasury announced today that it will begin to do broadly just what the New York Times bestselling House of Outrageous Fortune did for one prominent building, 15 Central Park West, back in 2014, and “identify the natural persons behind companies used to pay ‘all cash’ for high-end residential real estate in the Borough of Manhattan in New York City, New York.” The government press release goes on to say that “FinCEN [The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network] is concerned that all-cash purchases – i.e., those without bank financing – may be conducted by individuals attempting … Continue reading