Category: GripeBox

Acid Reflux in Ta-Ta-Ville

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Yesterday, Town and Country, the Hearst Corporation’s society mag, or rather, its blog (how, chic, how now, dahhling) excavated Takeover in Ta-Ta-Ville, my 1988 article on the decline of Southampton for New York magazine, to point out that Sunday’s Styles of the Times cover story on the effects of new money on the place now universally known as The Hamptons is (shock! horror!) just a re-telling of a story we’ve heard before. Thereby telling it yet again. Can you pass the Tums, toots?

“Modeling is the sale of women’s bodies…”

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On Entertainment Tonight last night, I talked about the dark side of the modeling. .

Bad decor but a great address

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Curbed just found another new eight-figure listing at Fifteen Central Park West. The décor is underwhelming, but the space is, well, outrageous. Though I’m not sure I would want to bunk directly underneath Dan and Margaret Loeb, someone will surely want that position. Curbed asked me why several 15CPW units have come onto the market. Which is interesting, given that units are reportedly languishing at the nearby Blue Penis (One57), even as flipping there continues, no one is talking much about sales at 220 or 432 or Nordstrom or the Economist tower or 520 Park. I wouldn’t be at all … Continue reading

Polo player chukkas 15CPW pad

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The New York Observer reports that apartment 35D at Fifteen Central Park West has come on the market for $33 million, but calls the sellers “whoever they are.” Whoever they are is “Victor Vargas, a Venezuelan banker with six homes, a polo team, and a daughter who married Luis Alfonso de Borbón, a great-grandson of Francisco Franco and relative of the king of Spain,” they could have learned from House of Outrageous Fortune. “Vargas lives there with his girlfriend, Maria Beatriz Hernandez Rodriguez.” The NYO does correctly note that Vargas bought the place from Donald Opatrny, a former Goldman Sachs … Continue reading

RIP Arnold Scaasi

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The designer Arnold Scaasi died on Monday. In 1985, I wrote an item for The Evening Hours column of the New York Times about his ubiquity in that era. It always made me smile. Click the image to read it.

Hello, I Must Be Going

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I’m thrilled to share the news that I’ve joined Departures, the luxury lifestyle and travel magazine, as a Contributing Editor. Since 2012, I’ve written stories for the magazine on the Isle of Cavallo, the coming of the $100 Million Manhattan condo, the eastern Riviera, designer-class retailing in Miami, and the rebirth of Mexico City. Watch this space for more in months to come.

“Before there was reality TV, there was Naomi Campbell”

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Cindy Crawford makes fudge for NBC

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Cindy Crawford is developing a TV series “that revolves around the modeling wars in the ’80s that occurred between Ford Modeling Agency and Elite Model Management”, Variety reports. “The show is completely fictionalized.” That’s for sure. The Model Wars began in spring 1977, when Crawford was eleven years old. By the time her first test photos were taken in 1982, they were history. (The photo of Crawford by Marco Glaviano appears in Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women.)

Over-reaching at 15CPW?

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The late insurance benefits executive Richard Ullman’s duplex “penthouse” at 15 Central Park West is back on the market a year after it was sold, asking $65 million, a slight increase over the $62.5 million the estate originally wanted, but a whopping increase over the $48 million the current owners, tucked inside an opaque LLC called 15CPW PHB (NYC), paid for it. It’s interesting to note that when the building was brand-new, Ullman tried to sell it before he even moved in for $55 million, but failed to get his price. After his death in 2011, the duplex was the … Continue reading

The Donald will not approve

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Donald Trump’s opinion notwithstanding, Mexico City is one of the most exciting, engaging and civilized cities in the world. Here’s my feature story for Departures on the DF’s many pleasures.

Rizzoli Redux

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In rare good news from the world of brick-and-mortar book retailing, Rizzoli Bookstore, forced from its gorgeous West 57th Street location by a developer last spring, has announced its Phoenix-like return. It will re-open on Broadway and West 26th Street on July 27th. Auguri!

Cry, the Beloved Lutece

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Here’s one for Jeremiah Moss’ Vanishing New York: The townhouse that once held Lutece, Andre Soltner’s French restaurant on East 50th Street, and a NYC classic for more than four decades (it opened in 1961), is being demolished along with two adjacent houses–no doubt for another condominium tower. Lutece closed more than eleven years ago, and its space sat vacant since then; today the door was open and you could see the original bar, cloaked in a thick layer of dust (behind the door shown at right, marked exit). Thanks for the memories.

Battling Billionaires: LA Strikes Back

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The Billionaire’s Belt in midtown Manhattan isn’t the only place where the .01 percent are spending mounds of money on real estate. The Hilton-Hyland realty blog, run by Bilal Khan, formerly of Curbed, today spotlights a Billionaire’s Hill in Bel Air, one of the neighborhoods featured in Unreal Estate. Want to rub garden hoses with Elon Musk (pictured)? He’s today’s king of the hill.

Meet Mexico City

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“Mexico City is one of the world’s great cultural destinations. So what are you waiting for?” is my profile of the city and the story of its stunning revival in the May/June 2015 issue of Departures. Click the link to read a pdf.

Gripepad Recommended Read: Isn’t That Rich?

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Ad man and raconteur Richard Kirshenbaum‘s Isn’t That Rich: Life Among the 1% is now available on line and in book stores. Gripepad’s proprietor wrote the forward and hopes its readers will be Kirshenbaum’s as well–if you aren’t already, that is.

15 CPW: Still the Tops

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Fifteen Central Park West remains the city’s most expensive apartment building, according to CityRealty. So while observers of the primates of Park Avenue engage in (quite possibly sexist) arguments over the lives of wives of the East Side wealthy, and whether the latest truth-challenged memoir about them is accurate, it appears that it’s the really most sincerely wealthy men who inhabit the House of Outrageous Fortune who are truly making out.

Gripepad is Moving

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Gripepad will likely go dark next two weeks as it changes premises, ISP, views and more. Might we post? Yes. Will it by our first priority? Not even close. Check back in June. And no, we ain’t headin’ west to the land of cement ponds. We just love us some Granny and Jeb.

Another Hedgie Clipped

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Hedge Clippers, a protest group, rallied outside Fifteen Central Park West today, reports ValueWalk. Though the building is full of targets for the anti-hedge-fund organization, this time, their target was the occupant of the tip-top building’s tip-top penthouse, Daniel Och of Och-Ziff. With $437 billion under the management of 15CPW dwellers, it will be a while before Hedge Clippers runs out of targets at the limestone fortress. Among the alternative investment firms with executives in residence ar Among them are Titan Capital, Canyon Capital, SAC Capital, CCMP Capital, Duquesne Capital, Joho Capital, Kingdon Capital, Knighthead Capital, Millennium Capital, Point State … Continue reading

Munzer’s the Word at PEN Literary Gala

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Fifteen Central Park West penthouse dweller Margaret Munzer Loeb, whose husband Dan Loeb was long an icon of free expression on Internet stock-chat boards, albeit using sock-puppet monickers like the memorable Senor Pinche Wey, has landed in Richard Johnson‘s column today . This time, it’s not for minor acts of book-burning, like her husband and fellow hedgie Barry Rosenstein‘s attempt to disrupt last year’s launch party for a certain book on their building, but for a good cause: her support of PEN, which itself supports free expression for writers speaking truth to power. She’s a co-chair of its annual gala … Continue reading

Public Enemy? My Dinner with Dick and Liz

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Richard Kirshenbaum, the ad man, has written a book called Isn’t It Rich? (out in June) and I’ve written an introduction to it, Liz Smith reveals on today’s New York Social Diary. In her account of our dinner together the other night at lovely Le Cirque, La Liz makes the case that Kirshenbaum and I are “enemies of the Manhattan wealthy,” because we sometimes write about the one percent. I know Liz doesn’t really equate coverage with clawing: she’s been excoriated for writing about the rich and famous likes of the late Frank Sinatra and the living Donald Trump. But … Continue reading

Flashback: The Discovery of the Inimitable Kate Moss

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Business Insider has taken a page from my book Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, and posted its account of the discovery of Kate Moss by modeling agent Sarah Doukas.

Who REALLY Owns That $88 Million Penthouse?

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In recent days, as one generally-respected news source, Rolling Stone, has reminded us that respectability and trustworthiness are different things, two more news organizations, The New York Times and The New York Review of Books, have both stated as fact that the buyer of an $88 million penthouse at 15 Central Park West in 2011 was the then 22-year-old daughter of Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Both reports appear to be based on otherwise unsupported claims made, respectively, by one of Rybolovlev’s spokesmen to a Wall Street Journal reporter, and by one of his lawyers to a New York Times reporter. … Continue reading

Down by the Riverside

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In the April issue of Avenue, Unreal Estate visits the Chatsworth, a condo conversion on the far west side, where Muffies rarely roam.

740 Park loses record, gains footnote

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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

Russian TV rushes 15CPW

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I’m on RT’s Boom Bu$t with Erin Ade today discussing Fifteen Central Park West, House of Outrageous Fortune, and who owns the outrageous eight- and nine-figuring condominiums popping up along the Billionaire’s Belt of 57th Street in Manhattan. The whole show is embedded above. To cut straight to the 15CPW segment click here.

740 Park Party Pad For Sale

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Peter Huang, an investor whose ex-wife tossed wild Studio 54-era parties in his duplex apartment at 740 Park Avenue, has re-listed the place after it failed to sell 2011, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Candace Taylor. Then, it was listed for $29.5 million. Now, it can be had for $2 million less through broker Kyle Blackmon, the 15 Central Park West resident who sold Sandy Weill‘s penthouse at 15CPW to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev for $88 million. The buyer will have among his or her neighbors Will Zeckendorf, one of 15CPW’s developers.

Damning Daniel Loeb, Supporting Free Speech

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Hedge Clippers, a progressive activist group, is taking aim at 15CPW penthouse owner and Third Point hedge fund honcho Daniel Loeb, reports the New York Observer. “Besides glitzy apartments and mega-yachts, Dan Loeb has developed a penchant for supporting right-wing politicians and other officials who put Wall Street’s interests ahead of Main Street’s interests,” the report reads. “This kind of political investment pays off for Loeb–-the Republican-led Senate blocks all efforts to close the carried interest loophole, levy a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on financial speculators’ stock transactions, or assess other taxes and fees on hedge fund managers and billionaires that … Continue reading

Penthouse Pugilism

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Only one New York condo has brought plutocrats to financial fisticuffs. Last night, Business Insider posted an excerpt from the new House of Outrageous Fortune paperback about the day the potty-mouthed hedgie Dan Loeb outbid the equally unchecked financier Carl Icahn for a pair of penthouses atop Fifteen Central Park West.

“Ridiculously rich people are taking over New York,” says Business Insider

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With the paperback of House of Outrageous Fortune coming out tomorrow, Business Insider wanted to know about the kind of people who inhabit 15 Central Park West and 740 Park. “There are trophy cities, trophy neighborhoods within trophy cities, and trophy buildings within those trophy neighborhoods,” I told Hayley Hudson, and “a certain kind of person is attracted to that kind of real estate.” I also offered a word to the wise: “If you want to stay out of the spotlight, don’t move to the corner of Central Park West. You’re not going to hide there.”

Temple of Transparency?

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Yesterday, Liz Smith noted that House of Outrageous Fortune peeled back the limestone curtain and revealed the names of many of the residents of Fifteen Central Park West. Today, Business Insider unveiled a snazzy graphic that displays some of those secretive folks and the worlds that most of them hail from. Feast your eyes!

Real Estate Hell, Right Here in Manhattan

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A year ago, my wife and I started looking for a new apartment. My latest Unreal Estate column in the March issue of Avenue chronicles what happened next. It’s about an apartment I think of as “The One That Got Away.” That’s it, in the photo.

Kicking a** and naming names

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On today’s New York Social Diary (and in the Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and other papers), Liz Smith notes the similarity between a recent study of the residents of Time Warner Center and House of Outrageous Fortune’s piercing of the veil over Fifteen Central Park West. “Society gadfly Michael Gross did the same thing first and all by himself, naming the names of dozens of the rich, often foreign — and yes — sometimes sketchy residents of 15 Central Park West,” she writes. HOOF is out in paperback a week from today.

Fraud, My Rybolovlevly?

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A prominent Swiss art dealer has been indicted for defrauding 15CPW penthouse owner Dmitry Rybolovlev. “Yves Bouvier is accused of having overcharged the Russian oligarch and owner of a Monaco football club, Dmitry Rybolovlev, when acting as middleman during the sales of high-value artworks,” says Artnet, which has the scoop.

“I’ve been in and I’ve been out. In is better.” RIP John Fairchild

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In 1987, I interviewed a fistful of fashion designers about their fraught relationships with John Fairchild, the WWD publisher who died yesterday. Here’s that story.

MSM finds Mammon-in-Midtown

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Eighteen days ago, the New York Times began a front page series on the real owners of condos in the Time Warner Tower on Columbus Circle–many of whom hide their real estate holdings behind trusts, offshore companies and limited liability corporations, and some of whom are fairly sketchy characters. Today’s Alexa Luxe Living supplement to the New York Post features a front page piece on Midtown, calling it the “white-hot core of New York’s luxury housing market” and discussing much the same phenomenon. You read it all here–and in House of Outrageous Fortune–first, of course. But Gripepad is grateful nonetheless … Continue reading

Link Alert: 15CPW is soon in paperback

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The “buy the book” links on the House of Outrageous Fortune page of this web site now point direct to pre-order pages for the paperback edition, which will be out in one month’s time. Pre-orders are gratefully appreciated,

Front Page News! Foreign Billionaires Buy Manhattan Luxury Condos!

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Today’s New York Times front page is dominated by the first of a series of investigative articles on foreign billionaires–some of them quite sketchy–buying condominiums around Columbus Circle. I, for one, am shocked, shocked, to find that’s going on here. It’s just….Outrageous.

Behind the Scenes in New York’s Costliest Private Townhouse

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Avenue’s February issue is online with my story about the residence I dub Hay House, the costliest private home ever listed in Manhattan. It’s the jewel that sits over the Crown restaurant. Read it here.

15CPW Takes Some Cake

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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.

My, Mizner

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Out today, my latest Unreal Estate column in the January Avenue digs up the past history of two venerable estates by Addison Mizner on Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach. Wish you were there? Me, too!

Good riddance to the year of One57

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Just caught up with Justin Davidson‘s December 1 New York magazine column, “Who Wants A Super-Tall Skyline,” in which he again damns many of Manhattan’s new super-tall towers, most notably, Extell’s One57 on West 57th Street, a favorite whipping post of this blog. This time, Davidson calls the blue phallic-shaped tower “disastrous,” adding “that a fellow architect [of its creator, Pritzker Prize winner Christian de Portzamparc] surmised he must be a socialist pranking the plutocrats.” I’d like to know why Portzamparc didn’t take his name off developer Gary Barnett‘s erectus horribilis. A well-placed source tells me the architect had some … Continue reading

Anjelica Huston is an angel

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In an interview in tomorrow’s New York Times Book Review, Anjelica Huston, world-class beauty, actress and author of the absorbing memoirs A Story Lately Told and the new Watch Me (pictured), says the next book she plans to read is Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women. What an angel she is.

Last minute gifts? No treble!

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Here’s an idea for a last minute gift: a condominium at Fifteen Central Park West. Six are currently on the market and several have been languishing for some time–so make an offer. The lowest-priced unit, #12H, was listed in September by owner Hugh Verrier, chairman of White & Case, who is asking $5.295 million. That same month, Joel Frank of Och-Ziff, the hedge fund, listed #8K for $5.395 million. Portuguese banker Pedro Ferreira‘s apartment, #15J, has been for sale for $6.7 million for eleven months, and Café Lalo owner Haim Lalo put his unit, #2E, on the market for $8.99 … Continue reading

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

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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

A Pinch of (Art) Basel

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Avenue’s special Miami issue, out this week just in time for Art Basel Miami, is the last one I assigned during my summer job as the magazine’s acting editor-in-chief. Related’s Jorge Perez is on the cover. Tom Austin profiles the extraordinary Micky Wolfson within. And my Unreal Estate column looks at two historic properties, The Surf Club and the Hotel Shelborne, both re-envisioned for the new Miami and a new generation of snowbirds.

Record-setting broker ankles Zeckendorf-ville

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Fifteen Central Park resident Kyle Blackmon, whose sale of Sanford Weill‘s penthouse there to fertilizer oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev for $88 million still holds the record for the most expensive apartment sale in New York, has left the Brown Harris Stevens brokerage for upstart Urban Compass. BHS is partly owned by Will and Arthur Zeckendorf, the lead developers of Fifteen, and Arthur is one of Blackmon’s neighbors in the building where he’s been one of most productive broker-specialists. You’ve gotta wonder how welcome he’ll be at the sales office for the Zeckendorfs’ latest condo tower, 520 Park (shown), which the Real … Continue reading

Christy Turlington needs no translation

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I’m quoted in the new issue of Spain’s El Pais Semanal, in a profile penned by Ana Fernandez Parilla of “eternal model” Christy Turlington , highlighting her transition from supermodel to model businesswoman and philanthropist for maternal health. It was obvious, I say, even back in the day (when the photo at right was taken of Christy, Linda Evangelista and me), that she was something special even among the genetically-blessed, and time has confirmed that judgment.

Bullets over Miami Beach

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The epic battle in Miami pitting the most successful shopping mall in America against a designer upstart backed by LVMH boss Bernard Arnault has tongues wagging from Palm Beach to South Beach–and is the subject of my latest story “Bal Harbour Shops vs. the Design District” (just unlocked) for Departures magazine. That’s Bal Harbour’s third-generation boss Matthew Whitman Lazenby at left and the Design District’s mastermind Craig Robins (right). I’m told both are peeved about the story. I must have done something right.

Ambition Avenue

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A cover story on the fine art and close combat of social climbing leads off the November entertaining issue of Avenue, the last gasp of my summer gig as its acting editor-in-chief. Not, perhaps, the normal Avenue fare, but every meal needs a little spice, no? Check out the features on world-class hosts Georgette Farkas and Alex Hitz, too. And my Unreal Estate column looks at the latest uptown-style invader to land on once bohemian Waverly Place. It, too, has entertaining ambitions, it seems.

740 Park a New York Times bestseller!

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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!