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740 Park

The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building

"Compulsively readable."Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times

"Jaw-dropping apartment porn."Fortune

"[A] great read... gossipy... revealing."People

"As rich as his subjects."Forbes FYI

"The Lolita of shelter porn."New York Observer

"Life after folly-filled life flashes forward like Park Avenue canopies viewed from a speeding town car."New York Times

"The is social history at its finest."Dominick Dunne

"Finally! A look inside the golden tabernacle of high society."Kitty Kelley

Photo of 740 ParkFor 75 years, it’s been one of the most lusted-after addresses in the world. Even today, it is steeped in money, the kind most of us can only imagine. Until now. The story of 740 Park Avenue sweeps across the twentieth century to today, and Michael Gross tells it in glorious, intimate and unprecedented detail. From the financial shenanigans that preceded the laying of the cornerstone, to the dazzlingly and sometimes decadently rich people who hid and hide behind its walls, this is a sweeping social and economic epic, starring our wealthiest and most powerful old-money families — Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Bouvier, Chrysler, and Houghton — Greed Decade symbols Ronald Perelman, Henry Kravis, and Saul Steinberg, and the names in today’s scary financial headlines: David Koch, John Thain, Ezra Merkin and Steve Schwarzman.

May 15th, 2018

740 Park a “genre-buster,” says Architectural Digest

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Writing on architect Rosario Candela in Architectural Digest, David Netto calls 740 Park “riveting social history…a biography of an apartment building.”

May 5th, 2018

740 Park Grows on the New York Times

740The most notable residence in the most notable apartment house on the Upper East Side, 740 Park, has lately been much in the news. A few weeks back, the New York Times’ T Magazine referred to the former residence there of Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg, Apartment 15-16B.  In tomorrow’s Styles of the Times, in a profile of its current occupants, Steve and Christine Schwarzman, the apartment also figures prominently.

Though it’s really unnecessary, both articles inflate the apartment’s many virtues.  T called it a triplex.  The writer of the Styles profile referred to it as a “17,000-square-foot, three-floor penthouse.” In fact, while fabulously grand, it is none of those things, as Times editors partly acknowledged when they corrected that T article: “An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the apartment of Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg; it was a duplex, not a triplex.”

Back in 2009, when a Wall Street Journal reporter made similar mistakes, Gripepad noted it in a post in which I called myself “ the self-appointed guardian of 740 facts” and pointed to a page from the cooperative’s 1929 offering plan (which appears elsewhere on this web site) as backup.  Here it is:

offeringSo here we go again. The apartment, built for George Brewster, a descendant of the leader of the Plymouth Colony, and long occupied by John D. Rockefeller Jr., is a duplex occupying a portion of the building’s 15th and 16th floors (click the links to see floor plans) with a mezzanine containing servants’ bedrooms wedged in like a loft bed over the home’s lower service rooms (a servant’s lunch room, laundry and the kitchen).

It is also, as I wrote here nine years “somewhat larger than 20,000 square feet (although its exact dimensions, like those of most cooperative apartments in New York City, have never been given).” And, as that Offering Plan also notes, while the ingeniously complex building has two penthouses, they sit above the floor on which the Schwarzmans live.

To quote the late great George Bernard Shaw, “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time. “

April 28th, 2018

“Quality will win out”

Walt Disney said that, and yesterday’s real estate news shows it’s still true. On both the east and west coasts, trophy properties with remarkable histories have gone on the market and attracted attention for their inherent quality–as well as their sky-high asking prices.

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In Bel Air, California, Variety’s brilliant Realestalker Mark David reports, soap opera mogul Bill Bell and his wife Maria, an arts philanthropist have listed a mansion prominently featured in my book on West Los Angeles, Unreal Estate (which is currently out of print). Designed by Wallace Neff for film producer and studio mogul Sol Wurtzel, it was later home to a celebrity psychic and astrologer-to-the-stars and is said to have been sublet to to Howard Hughes, Prince Ranier of Monaco and Elvis Presley. Later owned by British character actor Reginald Owen, it was acquired in 1962 by owner Dolly Green, daughter of oilman Burton Green, a co-founder of the city of Beverly Hills. Her estate sold it to the Bells for $4.775 million. Bell is now asking $37.5 million for it.

18447826-1_lOn Manhattan’s Upper East Side, an exquisite jewel-box duplex pied-a-terre with remarkable provenance, spelled out in my book 740 Park, has gone on the market for $39.5 million. Listed by banker John Thain (as the last chairman and chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch before its merger with Bank of America, he was one of the central characters in the last decade’s economic collapse), it has had only three owners since 1933, when it was first occupied by Blanche Brownell Grant, a W.T. Grant Stores heiress and Gurdjieff disciple. Its second owner was Annenberg heiress Enid Haupt, who lived there from 1967 until Thain bought the apartment from her estate for $27.5 million in 2006, shortly after 740 Park was published.

 

January 2nd, 2018

AVENUE needs your vote

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Please visit this Facebook page and vote (by hitting LIKE) for AVENUE’s July 2017 cover of Patti Hansen at Studio 54 by Anton Perich as the ASME magazine cover of the year. Every vote counts and I’m counting on yours!

December 2nd, 2017

Boyce v. Weber: Read it here

Focus PPBToday’s Page Six revealed that photographer Bruce Weber, a major character in FOCUS, is the latest figure in fashion accused of sexual harassment. You can read the complaint filed against Weber in NYS Supreme Court male model Jason Boyce’s lawsuit by clicking here.

October 17th, 2017

WWD on sexual harassment of models

WWD notes today that long before the current Harvey Weinstein headlines, both MODEL and FOCUS addressed the subject of sexual exploitation in the field of fashion photography.  

July 16th, 2017

Towers of Power in the news last week

Last week, 740 Park was back in the news in The Real Deal, which wrote of a price cut on a long-listed duplex, and in the Wall Street Journal, after the sale by hedgie David Ganek of the apartment where Jackie Kennedy grew up, and 15 Central Park West was spotlit in a story on buildings that attract celebrities in the New York Post. UPDATE: And the winner of Jacklie O’s apartment, according to the Wall Street Journal, is Jacob Safra!

June 20th, 2017

Plutocrat Podcast

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

April 13th, 2017

Pretty in Pink

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Meet the HOT pink jacket of FOCUS in trade paperback, coming to bookstores and online booksellers on August 29th.

April 2nd, 2017

21st Century Rockefellers

02e-rockefellertreeThe Rockefeller family’s enduring legacy, the subject of a feature story by Michael Kaplan in today’s New York Post, is also a prominent theme in 740 Park and Rogues’ Gallery, two of my books. News-hooked on the recent death of David, the last surviving son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the only one to live in 740 Park, the story addresses how great fortunes are dispersed and thus dissipated in large families, and asks if this wealthy family’s name still matters. I say it does, and others agree. In large part, that’s because, as Kaplan writes, “the family never flaunted its wealth.,” and “a chunk of it has gone to philanthropy,” including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, subject of the latter book. Rockefeller influence also lurks behind the April Philanthropy issue of AVENUE, out next week, which spotlights this century’s Rock-a-fellas.