Category: HouseOfOutrageousFortune

Secrets of the City, Revealed

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“One of our most provocative journalists, Michael Gross has cornered the market for insiders’ stories of the most bewitching and private worlds of the privileged, very rich, talented and beautiful,” says the 92nd Street Y, announcing my forthcoming appearance there on the night of June 12th, when I’ll engage in conversation with William D. Cohan, the former M&A investment banker for Lazard Frères and bestselling author of books about Wall Street. Speaking of insider stories, on Friday, Bloomberg “revealed” details of financier and Trump administration advisor Stephen Schwarzman‘s 70th birthday party in Palm Beach this weekend. But readers of AVENUE … Continue reading

15CPW: Still the Champ

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Real Estate Weekly reports that the highest price per square foot achieved in New York last year was nearly $10,000 paid for a sky high apartment at Fifteen Central Park West.  That’s more  money (by a significant measure) than any of the wannabes on the Billionaire’s Belt attracted.  Toldja so.

Trump: Model Candidate

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Read my latest story on Donald J. Trump on The Daily Beast. “I’m sorry, Ivanka, I really am, but here’s the sad truth: Your dad’s not a dog. He’s a pig.”

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 “mind-blowing,” says Barry Kieselstein-Cord

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“This is the best book on the real world of top photographers in the fashion industry ever,” says designer Barry Kieselstein-Cord. “Having hired and worked with many of them covered in Michael’s book I can tell you the back stories are mind blowing. Anyone remotely connected to fashion should read his book!”

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

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

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.

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

Supertalls drooping? Tightening the Billionaire’s Belt

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Katherine Clark of The Real Deal’s report last week that the “irrational exuberance” among developers of apartments for the super-wealthy is waning, according to participants in a recent realty summit, seems to confirm anecdotal reports that have filtered into and through Gripepad in recent months. “The market today is very slow in terms of high-end condo sales,” Related CEO Steve Ross said. Realtors working the high end have recently whispered that sales have stalled at a certain already open-for-occupancy West 57th Street supertall tower and that the developers of others, just rising out of the ground, are wondering where all … Continue reading

15CPW drops a notch after seven years as NYC’s costliest building

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It was inevitable that Fifteen Central Park West would have to give up its crown as Manhattan’s most expensive building, but its seven-year run has nonetheless been impressive, and the building that finally usurped it owes it and its developers, Will and Arthur Zeckendorf, Eyal Ofer‘s Global Holdings, and Goldman Sachs, a great debt of thanks for setting the stage for the emergence of the Billionaire’s Belt that now girds fat-cat Midtown Manhattan, stretching from 15CPW at West 61st Street’ along 57th Street, past Beacon Court and on to two East Side towers by Sir Norman Foster, 50 United Nations … Continue reading

Another one bites the dust: RIP Bookhampton

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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?

A Tweet from 15CPW comes to Twitter

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Reuters reports that Iranian-American Omid Kordestani, an early Google executive, is moving to Twitter as its new executive chairman. Kordestani and wife Gisel own a duplex on the 16th and 17th floors of Fifteen Central Park West, between hedge hog Barry Rosenstein of Jana Partners and wife Lizann and Sting and wife Trudie Styler. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs lives with wife Laura on Rosenstein’s other side, making the floor a trick-or-treater’s delight.

Billion Dollar Babies (plus an ink-stained wretch)

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Will and Arthur Zeckendorf, co-developers of Fifteen Central Park West, launched the sales gallery for their latest project, 520 Park, another Robert A.M. Stern limestone-clad production, this week–and we realized we’d never before posed for a picture together. They’re not really taller than me; they’re standing on their wallets. (Photo by Craig Barritt)

Salezapoppin’ at 15CPW

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Apartment 8A at Fifteen Central Park West is in contract for $35 million, reports Donna Olshan of Olshan Realty, which issues a weekly report on contracts signed for New York apartments selling for $4 million or more. As usual, count on Gripepad to name names. The seller, lurking behind an LLC called Swiftsure Property, and soon to slightly more than double his $17 million investment on the four bedroom, 4,565 square foot spread, is Gerald E. Ross, a litigator and name partner in Fryer & Ross, a firm that specializes in “sophisticated litigation and arbitration in the areas of insurance … Continue reading

Indonesia on the Hudson: Fifteen owner asks $31 million

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Last night, Mansion Global, the Wall Street Journal’s real estate spinoff, revealed the latest listing at Fifteen Central Park West, subject of House of Outrageous Fortune–apartment 28D, a three bedroom corner spread with three exposures, listed for $31 million. As is so often the case with condos on the billionaire’s belt, the owner is hidden behind a corporate name, Christopher Properties, a California-based real estate investment company. The broker describes that owner as “an international entrepreneur who previously used the residence as a pied-à-terre.” In fact, the occupant of the apartment is an Indonesian named Andre Kohar, a director of … Continue reading

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

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

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!

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.

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.

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

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

The other tower of power

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

“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.