"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
For 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.
February 3rd, 2014
River House–a frequent subject in this space–released a statement today revealing that a letter of intent has been signed to keep the private River Club inside the esteemed cooperative apartment house. What was not revealed was the price, but Gripepad has confirmed with an inside source that it is a $45 million deal. Not quite the $130 million the building claimed to be seeking for the premises–it also claimed that was not a negotiating ploy–but not chump change, either. So though on a blogging hiatus while traveling, Gripepad thought you should know.
January 23rd, 2014
Who will sell New York’s first $100 million apartment? Where will it be? How staggering its views? How starchitect-y its design? And who will buy it? A Hedgie? A Saudi? A cloaking LLC? That inevitability is the subject of my cover story in the January-February issue of Departures, the luxury travel magazine. It’s now unlocked to read online.
January 16th, 2014
Noted without comment: The last few days have seen several of Gripepad’s obsessions flitting hither and yon in the news. Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour , who appears on the cover of Rogues’ Gallery, has been rewarded for her fundraising and cheerleading efforts on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute with the naming of its newly-renovated galleries in her honor. The board of directors of 995 Fifth Avenue, just across the street from that museum, has sued One57 developer, the cantilever and crane-crazy Extell (and a partner) for breach of contract and fraud “in the construction, marketing and sale of apartments at the luxury co-op building.” The Billionaire’s Belt along 57th Street appears to be squeezing out Rizzoli, the last bookstore in midtown Manhattan. 15CPW architect Robert A.M. Stern‘s design for 220 Central Park South, soon to sprout a few blocks away, has been revealed. And reams of copy have been written about new New York City mayor Bill de Blasio‘s declaration that the city’s carriage horses are heading to the glue factory. Most refer to my 2009 post here, “It’s Parkingtown, Jake,” and a 2011 followup column in Crain’s New York Business wondering about the true motives of the carriage horse opponents. And as surely as the sun rises and sets, some more very expensive apartments have come on the market at 740 Park Avenue and 15 Central Park West. The mind reels.
December 25th, 2013
Today’s New York Post has a laugh-riot story by Jane Ridley on Christmas staff tipping rituals in better buildings like 740 Park and 15 Central Park West. Read it and remember, they know if you’ve been bad or good so you better tip good for goodness sake!
December 22nd, 2013
Seagrams heir Edgar Bronfman, second owner of the triplex penthouse atop 740 Park built for Elecrta Havemeyer and J. Watson Webb, and now occupied by for United Technologies head George David, has died at age 84. He paid $235,000 for the massive spread in 1961, and still owned it when his son Sam was famously kidnapped in 1975–though he’d moved to Fifth Avenue. His living room, designed by Albert Hadley, is shown. Late in 1979, Edgar finally sold the penthouse for $600,000 to Steven J. Ross, the head of Warner Communications.
September 30th, 2013
Plagued by bad press this summer due to a series of petty thefts (petty for them, at least), 740 Park is back in the news today thanks to the listing of its fourth floor D-line apartment by investment banking’s Peter Huang. The apartment was infamous when Huang was still married to his first wife, Nancy Stoddart, whose friends from the Studio 54 set often came to keep partying there after-hours. Priced at $29.5 million, the unit, which overlooks 71st Street, is likely a fixer-upper. So if you’re handy as well as wealthy, pounce! The listing belongs to Kyle Blackmon, famous for selling the $88 million penthouse at 15 Central Park West for Sandy nd Joan Weill. It’s Blackmon’s second coup this week: He’s one of the brokers selling an as of now imaginary $130 million mansion at River House. It’s currently (and apparently not for long) home to the veddy exclusive The River Club.
September 12th, 2013
Another advance reader of House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World’s Most Powerful Address, author-journalist Dana Thomas, author of Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, says, “Want to understand what Occupy Wall Street was about? In House of Outrageous Fortune, Michael Gross explains it–and then some. With a rollicking, informative history of New York City, tales of mega real estate fortunes made and lost, and dizzying examples of the super-wealthy’s greed and ostentation, Gross deftly traces the arc of America both socially and financially and proves that the top two percent most certainly do not live like you or I.”
August 23rd, 2013
John Sutter of CNN.com has crowd-sourced a list of 99 must-read books on income inequality, presumably for the 99%, though some of the 1% might do well to read a few of them. My 740 Park makes the list at #30, between titles by George Bernard Shaw and Jonathan Kozol. Isn’t that rich?
August 20th, 2013
William D. Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World and House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, and a Contributing Editor of Vanity Fair, is the latest early reader to praise the forthcoming House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World’s Most Powerful Address. “Michael Gross has done it again!” he writes. “In intricate and revelatory detail, he shows how Fifteen Central Park West became the most famous and talked-about building in Manhattan: It’s the people who live there, of course, and Gross gives us a front-row seat on their passions, their antics and why they want the very best money can buy.”
August 16th, 2013
Yesterday’s revelation of a series of jewel heists at 740 Park led to a series of followups today in the New York Post and on CNN, among other outlets. You can watch the CNN video here. The Post reveals that the victims include Danielle Ganek, whose husband’s hedge fund “agreed to pay the feds more than $21.5 million for its role in an insider-trading scheme” and Lauren Merkin, whose husband Ezra “was charged with civil fraud for allegedly steering $2.4 billion in client money to Bernie Madoff.” The Post missed the fact that victim #3 was Caryl Englander, whose husband Israel, paid one of the largest fines in history to the SEC, but, before you start thinking this was revenge on the .01%, consider that victim #4, June Dyson, while certainly also mega-wealthy, is the 94-year-old widow of an underclass-certified good guy. Husband Charles was an original member of Richard Nixon’s enemies list. 740 Park may have lost its claim to be the world’s richest apartment building to 15 Central Park West, but it still packs in plenty of plutocrats.