Category: GripeBox

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!

Where Arab royals shack up with Israeli billionaires

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The Real Deal broke the news today that the ruling al-Quasimi clan of Sharja in the United Arab Emirates have snapped up a second spread at Fifteen Central Park West, co-developed by one of Israel’s richest men, billionaire Eyal Ofer. For the Emiratis, it’s their second unit in the building where hedge funders, a handful of celebs and flight capitalists cohabit. The sellers were Chinese billionaires Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, the married heads of SOHO China, the third-largest property company there. They sold for $14.25 million, a substantial discount from their original $19 million asking price.

Get 740 Park at Queens Village prices!!!

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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.

Correction: Angier Biddle Duke at 740 Park

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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

Feeling blue about Bloomberg’s take on One57′s Barnett

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Extell’s Gary Barnett, developer of the supertall condo called One57, is the subject of a big feature in this week’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek. It’s my favorite magazine. And I’m happy that writer Devin Leonard quoted from my House of Outrageous Fortune in his piece, and implies (albeit indirectly) that the book’s subject, the condominium at 15 Central Park West, was the inspiration for Barnett’s erection on West 57th Street. But the profile (which I’d been looking forward to reading since Leonard interviewed me some months back), left me disappointed. I don’t fault BBW on the facts (though it calls Alex Rodriguez, … Continue reading

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

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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

Bullets over Beaches

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The new Departures with my feature article on the retail war pitting the venerable Bal Harbour Shops vs. the upstart Miami Design District is now hitting the mailboxes of those lucky souls who get the magazine. You can see the opening art here, but the story itself is locked until the issue goes off sale. I will post as soon as it’s online

House of Outrageous Fortune’s new clothes

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The trade paperback edition of House of Outrageous Fortune won’t be out until March, but its outrageously fun new jacket (at right) was just unveiled by online booksellers. Click the image to see it in all its glory. Simultaneously, the latest reader review hit amazon.com. It reads, “If you want to see how the one-percenters live, this is the book for you! Boggles the mind.” Thanks, B. Turner (real name).

Mother of Mercy, is this the end of the Rico condo?

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Just as the New York State Senate indicated it is set to consider legislation levying stiff taxes on multi-million-dollar pied-a-terre apartments, the developing brothers, Arthur and Will Zeckendorf, and their starchitect-marketing-marvel Robert A.M. Stern, protagonists of House of Outrageous Fortune, went public with the offering plan for their 15 Central Park West clone, 520 Park Avenue (at right), topped by a triplex penthouse on offer for a staggering, record-setting, epochal, awe-inspiring, gasp-inducing $130 Million. Call it Limestone Yeezus, the Kanye of condos! Needless to say, whoever might consider buying such a deluxe a-party-ment in the sky will likely be able … Continue reading

Join me on the Runway of Love

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I’m speaking at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Sunday at 2 PM on a panel (along with Pat Cleveland, Bjorn Amelan and Carol Mongo) as part of Runway of Love, a celebration of the exhibition on the life and work of American-designer-in-Paris Patrick Kelly. Please come!

Page Six Vaporizes $40 Million

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The owners of two apartments in the tower at 15 Central Park West are in for a surprise this morning: Page Six has made their homes–together worth considerably more than $40 million–disappear. Reporting that Robert DeNiro has rented two combined units in the condo, both owned by elderly metals magnate Leroy Schecter, the fabled gossip column describes apartment 35 A/B–which it claims is going for a stunning $125,000 a month–as occupying “an entire floor” and “a full floor” in the building. That leaves next-door apartments 35C, currently listed for $29.995 million with Brown Harris Stevens, and 35D in the northern … Continue reading

Back to School

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September is coming in like a lion, bringing with it a rush of news. Yesterday, Matt Chaban penned an update in the Times on the doings at River House that this reporter has been covering in Avenue for several years. His big scoop: board president John Allison, architect of the building’s new glasnost policy, has listed his own apartment. And the September issue of Avenue, where I’m guest editor while Daisy Prince is on maternity leave, is now live online. My latest Unreal Estate column concerns the sale of a townhouse long occupied by Ashraf Pahlavi, the twin sister of … Continue reading

Izzy Does It

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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

Lovebirds Fly

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Two of the more colorful residents of Fifteen Central Park West have flown the coop, according to Katharine Clark of the Daily News and public records. Spanx founder Sara Blakely and Marquis Jets co-founder Jesse Itzler have now sold the last of their three 15CPW apartments, this time raking in a $17 million profit. Public records show the buyer as Latovest, a trust. Blakely and Itzler’s combination of capitalist achievement and off-kilter craziness made them favorites of the Fifteen staff. Follow this link for a photo of Blakely in her Fifteen next.

Originality isn’t easy

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Years ago, a grizzled old reporter told me to always avoid the word original, as there is precious little new under the sun. I was reminded of that when I picked up the current Architectural Digest and spotted an article about fashion designer Francisco Costa‘s house in Bellport, New York. The writer dubbed that south shore Long Island village the unHampton, reminding me that I’d done the same 22 years ago in a New York magazine summer profile of the place (pictured at right). I thought I was so clever. But it turns out that the first use of that … Continue reading

“The people who rule the world live here.”

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The House of Outrageous Fortune, 15 Central Park West, was featured on USA Today’s web site this weekend.

BBC on Eileen Ford

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BBC Radio aired a tribute to the late Eileen Ford today. You can download it here. It begins at 9:08 minutes into the longer broadcast and features Katie Ford, Eileen’s daughter, and this reporter.

What $147 million buys (anywhere but the Hamptons)

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What better way to start the weekend than to consider what horrifying hedgie-of-the-moment, Fifteen Central Park West duplex owner Barry Rosenstein, could have bought with the $147 million he’s spending for his ostentatious new East Hampton estate–if he didn’t feel the need to live in a quiet, low-profile location like Further Lane in East Hampton. The latest Unreal Estate column in Avenue magazine, “Isn’t it Rich? thinks it would be rich–and smart–to look elsewhere, and get a castle or an island or a ranch, and a Gulfstream VI with the change.

There’s millions to be made up on the roof

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Two adjacent apartments at 15 Central Park West–boasting a massive combined terrace–went into contract for eight figures this week, reports Chris Pomorski of the New York Observer. Both units are owned by Fernando Chico Pardo, a Mexican businessman. And at an average sale price of $6,288 per square foot, apartments at 15CPW remain the city’s priciest, according to CityRealty (via Curbed). Take that, One57!