"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.
Reports surfaced yesterday of an epic flip fail at 15 Central Park West after the LLC that bought it last year sold for a small loss. Sigh. The original purchaser, pharmaceutical exec Richard Ullman, doubled his $24 million investment in the almost decade old tower. But he actually lived there until his death. The flipper, now out, should have known, you can’t win ‘em all. Balloons will fly beneath its windows today. Let’s hope they don’t deflate, too.
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?
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 there. Indeed, Schwarzman held that record when Blavatnick tried to buy an apartment at 740, and its board recruited oilman and right wing financier David Koch to snatch it away (“I took it out from under his nose,” Koch boasted in an interview for my book 740 Park). Last laugh: Blavatnik. At least until Schwarzman decides to sell.
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.
I spent a few days with the rock legend Kim Fowley in the ’70s. This is, believe it or not, a great memory.
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 can similarly reach for the heights of Manhattan real estate with 740 Park. It’s “compulsively readable,”
according to Liesl Schillinger of The New York Times.
The New York Times tomorrow offers a compelling argument for taxing the owners of the often-empty pied-a-terre luxury condominium apartments that have filled Manhattan and coincidentally raised the price of real estate beyond the reach of many who actually want to live here. Bravo.