Category: UnrealEstate

Plutocrat Podcast

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Last week, William D. Cohan interviewed me on covering the world of wealth in New York at a 92Y Talk. Here’s the podcast.

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?

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.

Help Save Bookhampton

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

Owlwood set to fly-but to whooo?

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Owlwood, the Holmby Hills mega-estate made up of homes once owned by stars like Rudy Vallee, Engelbert Humperdinck, Jayne Mansfield, Tony Curtis and Cher, has reportedly been sold, says the indefatigable LA realty blogger, Your Mama of The Realestalker. Its current owner, Dawn Arnall, is the widow of Roland, a subprime mortgage banking billionaire. As featured in The Hollywood Reporter (at right) the whole story of the estate–allegedly listed for $150 million, but reportedly sold for something closer to half that–is told in my last book, Unreal Estate. Writes the red-hot Mama, “It could be that this is all just … Continue reading

House of Outrageous Fortune: Now available for pre-orders

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

Eye on LA on Unreal Estate

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Good things are worth waiting for. Back in November 2011, when Unreal Estate was launched with a gala party at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, KABC’s “Eye on LA” filmed a piece on the book that finally aired–sixteen months later. Watch it here.

Jerry Buss, RIP

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Jerry Buss, the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, who died this morning Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at age 80, plays only a cameo role in Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles, but it’s a fun one. Buss bought Pickfair, the 42-room Beverly Hills estate built by Douglas Fairbanks for his lover actress Mary Pickford (at right) from the latter’s estate in 1979 for $5.3 million and sold it to actress Pia Zadora and her husband Meshulam Riklis for $6.7 million in 1988. Now in other hands, the house has been so … Continue reading

A Valentine for Unreal Estate

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Realestalker, the much-read luxury realty blog, sent a heart to Unreal Estate today, calling it “exhaustively researched…and deliciously dishy” in a post that retails the rumor that one of the great estates featured in the book, Casa Encantada in Bel Air, once the home of Conrad Hilton and David Murdock, can be yours if you shovel $225 million in the direction of its current owner, Global Crossing founder Gary Winnick. HBO’s planned Unreal Estate series is currently in development. Watch this space for more news on that front as soon as Gripepad is allowed to share it.

Whale Watching

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Students and fellow realty obsessives, Curbed LA gives a history lesson on the first realty whales to hit Los Angeles this week and Unreal Estate is one of the assigned texts.

Oscar Winner Alex Gibney Films 740 Park

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The Hollywood Reporter just revealed a secret I’ve been keeping since last year. Alex Gibney, the acclaimed documentarian, has acquired and made a film version of 740 Park. It’s called Park Avenue: Money, Power and The American Dream and it will air on PBS on November 12th as part of the international Why Poverty? documentary series, and will also be available on Hulu, iTunes and Netflix for digital download later this month. I’ll post links once I have them. Thanks to the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer who played matchmaker for Gibney and me. UPDATE: Curbed comments on the Gibney/Gross collaboration, … Continue reading

Don Quimurdock Tilts at Windmills

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David Murdock, the billionaire who features large in Unreal Estate–he owned (and ripped the designer guts out of) the most significant mansion in Bel Air (pictured)–has sold an even more significant piece of property, the Hawaiian island of Lanai, to Oracle’s Larry Ellison, but retains the right to build a field of 45-story turbine windmills there. The ongoing controversy over the windmills is the subject of a big front pager in today’s New York Times.

“Liar Loan” Widow Lists $150 Million Holmby Hills Estate: Marilyn Monroe Canoodled Here

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Dawn Arnall, widow of Roland Arnall, a central figure in creating the mortgage crisis, is quietly seeking to sell Owlwood in Holmby Hills, one of the central estates in Unreal Estate for a noisy $150 million ask, says the Hollywood Reporter and Real Estalker. Among the fabled residents of the gated estate (actually once three separate houses): Tony Curtis (pictured), Cher, Jayne Mansfield, Engelbert Humperdink, David Geffen, and movie mogul Joseph Schenk, who allegedly let Marilyn Monroe stay in a guest house in return for special benefits. Read all about them all in Unreal Estate.

Kristen Stewart’s Lynda Resnick Connection

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The news that actress Kristen Stewart was caught cheating on her Twilight co-star Rob Pattinson was quite unreal. There’s also an Unreal Estate connection. The photos of Stewart snogging her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders put an unwelcome spotlight on the cuckquean (the female equivalent of cuckold) in the affair, Sander’s wife, the British model Liberty Ross. Happier in the glare of publicity is Ross’s father Ian Ross, aka Flipper (for his metal leg), who brought his family to Los Angeles in the ’70s when he signed on as the front man for California’s first roller disco, … Continue reading

Richard Zanuck of Beverly Park, RIP

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The Hollywood Reporter reveals that producer Richard D. Zanuck, one of the original residents of Beverly Park, has died at age 77.

POM (not so) Wonderful

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“Lies and gross exaggerations,” is how Linda and Stewart Resnick of Beverly Hills characterized Unreal Estate–which ends with their astonishing story–in a mass email condemnation shortly before its release late last year. They cited no specifics (of course) and the book nonetheless spent 15 weeks on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. And today, news comes that the Resnicks have engaged in what can only be described as “lies and gross exaggerations” themselves in promoting their signature POM Wonderful pomegranate products. “An administrative law judge issued a cease-and-desist order after determining that the company had insufficient evidence to support claims … Continue reading

Unreal Estate is “Entirely Un-Put-Downable,” says Darlings author

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I just bought a new novel called The Darlings by Cristina Alger (at right, from Penguin Press), so it was a double thrill to discover she’d told Jeff Glor of AuthorTalk at cbsnews.com that she is reading Unreal Estate. “I always find his books entirely un-put-downable,” Alger said. I expect to return the compliment soon.

Australia Gets Unreal

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In the March issue of Wish Magazine from The Australian, Carrie Kablean calls Unreal Estate, “A literary peek into the estates of the rich and/or famous that’s raised a few hackles among its glittering cast of characters. High life, low life and a fascinating tale.”

My weekend in Palmhampton

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Private jets! Republican gossip! Italo-Asian-Middle Eastern fusion food! If it’s Sunday, it must be a Palm Beach Story in my latest column for Crain’s New York Business. Thanks to the Brazilian Court Hotel for inviting me back to its Author Breakfast series to discuss Unreal Estate.

The Sales Just Keep on Coming

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Unreal Estate continues its unreal performance at Book Soup in West Hollywood, hanging out its shingle as the #5 bestseller this week.

Unreal Estate a 13-week bestseller

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It’s back up to #12 on the Los Angeles Times non-fiction bestseller list for Unreal Estate this week. It’s now been a bestseller for 13 weeks.

“Positively Dickensian,” says the Los Angeles Review of Books

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The Los Angeles Review of Books has just posted a long, thoughtful and fair consideration of Unreal Estate. Even though it’s not entirely positive, it is the kind of review most writers hope to receive now and then, but do all too rarely, especially nowadays when ever-fewer media outlets do that job. The site, which is currently in preview mode, clearly deserves attention and support. And I say that not only because it says, “Gross isn’t selling us a bill of goods; he’s just asking us to enlist him as our trusted cicerone, to let him guide us through the … Continue reading

Back in the L.A. groove

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After a brief absence, Unreal Estate returned to the Los Angeles Times bestseller list today, to make its run there a neat three months long.

Unreal Estate Live! at the Pacific Design Center

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On Monday February 13th, I spoke about Unreal Estate, the book, and the houses that inspired it, at the Aaroe Architectural Forum at the Silver Screen Theater in West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center. My comments about a Mark refer to Mark David, aka The Real Estalker, who introduced me at the event but is not included in the video. Thanks to him, Bret Parsons and John Aaroe.

Unreal Revival

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I should visit L.A. more often. Unreal Estate today vaulted back to #5 on the Book Soup bestseller list.

Schedule change

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My talk at the Beverly Hills Women’s Club on Sunday February 12th has been cancelled, but I will still speak on Monday February 13th at the Aaeroe Architectural Forum at the Pacific Design Center. See the Unreal Estate page for details on how to reserve. The event is almost at capacity, so book soon to ensure entrance!

Coming into Los Angeles

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Attention Angelenos: Click through for the details on my February 12th appearance at the Beverly Hills Women’s Club and the next day’s Aaroe Architecural Forum lecture at the Pacific Design Center’s Silver Screen Theater. (That’s Lynda and Stewart Resnick‘s Sunset House under construction, at right)

Back on the block, still on the list.

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Unreal Estate is now (unreally!) in its eleventh week on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. My new Crain’s New York Business column is about the persistence of beach books. And in case it’s not obvious, Gripepad is off the beach (at right) and back in business.

Unreal Estate is “an astounding history,” says New York Social Diary

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David Patrick Columbia has written briefly about Unreal Estate before. Today, he offers a lengthy review, and it’s as provocative as I tried to make the book. “Houses are fascinating because houses are people,” he writes. “And when there’s the more, there’s the merrier, not to mention hucksters and hustlers, money managers and lawyers, and the misled, the misplaced, as well as the maudlin, and even murderous. It’s life on the other side of the real fence, and it’s not like yours or mine. That’s what you get in this book; the hot skinny and with caviar and creme fraiche. … Continue reading

Unreal? No, unbelievable!

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For the ninth week, Unreal Estate is holding the fort on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. This week, it’s at #7. Thanks again, California. I look forward to saying that again in person on February 12 at the Beverly Hills Women’s Club and the 13th at the Aaroe Architectural Forum at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.

L.A. on Park Avenue

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Star Corcoran broker Wendy Sarasohn hosted a book party for Unreal Estate on Wednesday night, where I spoke to a crowd of New York real estate heavyweights including Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman (at left in the photo with Wendy and me) and New York’s highest-earning realtor (and go-to guy for 740 Park apartments), John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens. The New York Observer’s Elise Knutsen was there and reports on the festivities here. And Guelda Voien of The Real Deal has a report and photos, too. (Photo above by Richard Lewin)

Appearing this week at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport…

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That’s Unreal Estate front and center in Burbank. Meanwhile, on the right coast, Elise Knutsen offers up a squib on my next book, House of Outrageous Fortune, for my new publisher, The Free Press at Simon & Schuster, on observer.com. And as if all that isn’t enough attention for one Wednesday, The Fame Game has named me the week’s #1 literary Mover and Shaker, edging out James Frey and Candace Bushnell. The great Gay Talese and the egregious Ann Coulter round out the top five. (Photo by the The Real Estalker aka Your Mama)

Unreal staying power

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In a post-Christmas surge, Unreal Estate has vaulted back up to the #6 position on the Los Angeles Times non-fiction bestseller list.

Unreal is #2 (again)!

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Former #1 Steve Jobs has dropped from the top ten, but Unreal Estate is showing staying power at #2 on the nonfiction bestseller list at Book Soup this week. The people of L.A. approve and one author rejoices.

“Compulsively readable,” writes Liz Smith in The Chicago Tribune

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Unreal Estate leads Liz Smith‘s column today for the Chicago Tribune and wowowow. It’s “a sprawling, delicious chronicle of how L.A. evolved real estate-wise, how the land became valuable, how the great neighborhoods were designed,” Smith writes, “….compelling and overflowing with gossip. Gross doesn’t just give us sites and architecture. He tells of the innumerable scandals that each house spawned: the epic divorces, murders, suicides, bankruptcies, sexual excess, family plotting, betrayals and crooked land and water deals. It’s fun! And quite astonishing to read….Unreal Estate is compulsively readable.”

Unreal Estate: A bestseller s’more

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Unreal Estate is now in its seventh week on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. I love L.A.!

Unreal Estate #2 in L.A.

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In the week ending on Christmas, Unreal Estate hit #2 on the nonfiction bestseller list at Book Soup in West Hollywood. Riot on the Sunset Strip!

Coming Attractions: Unreal Estate on the Road, Winter 2012

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I’ll be giving talks and signing copies of Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition and the Lust For Land in Los Angeles in Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Palm Beach in weeks to come. On Sunday evening February 12th (from 6-8 PM), I’ll give a talk at a buffet dinner at the Beverly Hills Women’s Club. On February 13th, I’ll speak at the Aaroe Architectural Program at the Pacific Design Center’s Silver Screen Theater, on the Second Floor at 8687 Melrose Ave. That program is from 10:45 AM– 12:30 PM. And on March 2nd, I’ll join one of my favorite writers, Sally … Continue reading

Curbed.com suggests an unreal stocking stuffer

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Curbed National today takes notice of the great Times review of Unreal Estate which, it reminds, “might be best described as what would happen if Us Weekly and Architectural Digest had a love child that was much smarter than either.”

The Los Angeles Times raves about “gilt-y pleasures” of Unreal Estate

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“We’ve heard it before — Americans don’t like to read, they just want to ogle celebrities and watch shows about houses on TV. So how about a book that allows the reader to ogle celebrities and their homes to bring them back to reading?” asks Alana Semuels in The Los Angeles Times today. “That’s just what Michael Gross has provided in ‘Unreal Estate.’…It can sometimes read like real estate porn, with paragraphs of jaw-dropping details about a type of extravagance that might have been scorned even by the very wealthy on the Titanic. But he also leaves the reader with … Continue reading

Still a bestseller: Unreal!

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Unreal Estate is now in its fifth week on the non-fiction bestseller list of the Los Angeles Times. Happy holidays and thanks to all who’ve put and kept it there!

Daily News redux for Unreal Estate

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Unreal Estate is featured in the Daily News two days in a row. Tomorrow, its “Best Places” section includes a Q&A with me and reporter Gina Pace about the book and HBO’s plans to make it into a series.

An unreal tabloid two-fer

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In today’s Daily News, Frank DiGiacomo‘s Gatecrasher column asked me to put my two cents in on New York Times critic Janet Maslin, after spotting my various posts here reprinting e-mails I’ve received about her recent review of Unreal Estate. He also spelled her name right and ran her picture. In today’s New York Post, Jennifer Ceaser visits my apartment for one of the Home section’s weekly peeks at how the un-1% live. And in broadsheet news, a story on A-1 of today’s Times follows my Crain’s New York Business Commentary column last week, “Let’s Talk Horse Sense,” on the … Continue reading

Damn the torpedoes, bestseller ahead!

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For the fourth week running, Unreal Estate appears on the bestseller list at West Hollywood’s wonderful independent book store, Book Soup (that’s it, at right).

On Maslin on Unreal Estate: “A disgrace to journalism”

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The latest slam of the New York Times review of Unreal Estate comes from a fellow journalist and author: “I was enraged by that review! Totally unfair. I have very strong views about people in media taking advantage of having a platform that people can’t defend themselves against….What Janet Maslin did to your excellent book’s selling prospects for whatever grudge she appears to have against you is to my thinking totally unfair & intolerable & a disgrace to journalism. Anyone reviewing a bk for the NY Times is wielding strong power over someone’s hard work & usually source of income … Continue reading

Long live the (L.A.) Times

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Sunday’s Los Angeles Times features Unreal Estate in its guide to the holiday season’s best gift books.

One more comment on Miss Maslin, if you please.

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Yesterday’s post of excerpts of comments on the attempted take-down of Unreal Estate by Janet Maslin (at right) has inspired another one, this one worth reprinting in full. It’s from a bestselling author and journalist whose work frequently appears in, ta-da, the New York Times: “Janet Maslin should stop reviewing. She is getting tired, lazy and cranky. She creamed over a book — Annie Jacobsen‘s — about the history of nuclear tests that was absolutely excoriated by nuclear expert Richard Rhodes, and others, for having fraudulent material in it. She writes reviews like she just wants to get them over … Continue reading

And now, some reviews of Janet Maslin’s review of Unreal Estate.

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The reviews of New York Times critic Janet Maslin‘s “review” of Unreal Estate are coming in. Here are some excerpts. I’ve left out the senders’ names to protect the innocent. “It’s one thing to dislike a book but another to trash an entire body of work. What raw nerve(s) did you cut into along the way? And whose, one wonders.” [from a former New York Times reporter] “Insane and ridiculous.” [from a publishing executive] “What on earth did you do to mizz janet’s axe that she has such a terrible need to grind?” [from an LA writer] “Idiotic and absurd.” … Continue reading

Maslin massacres Unreal Estate

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Janet Maslin‘s knickers are in a twist over Unreal Estate. You can read her evisceration of book (and author) here.

Unreal Estate Rising

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Unreal Estate rose to #4 on the Book Soup bestseller list this week, topping the Steve Jobs biography for the first time. And last night’s book party at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller attracted model Ekaterina Trifonova, New York Grand Opera soprano Victoria Miningham and clubland’s Alison Devlin (at right), David Redden of Sothebys, James Atlas, photographer Jessica Burstein, Tracey Jackson, Tara Palmeri of Page Six and many more.