"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.
May 11th, 2013
Did someone say, how was your weekend? Well, busy. First we were unwillingly evacuated from our home. So I didn’t have time to post about NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon listing his apartment at 15 Central Park West, subject of my just-completed next book, or about France selling the home of its UN ambassador at 740 Park, subject of an earlier real estate opus. Then, Le Monde published a story on the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute and its ball quoting my Rogues’ Gallery, and Gwyneth Paltrow, one of the select invited guests, opined that, “It sucked.” And finally, my exile on 57th Street ended with a new boom and thankfully, no bang. Developer Extell even apologized, sort of, and grudgingly, for treating One57′s neighbors like, well, guests at the Costume Institute gala. So how was it? Well, it still sucked to get kicked out of my home again, even if only for a day. But tomorrow is another day, even if it’s still this weekend.
April 21st, 2013
In the last pages of 740 Park, written nine years ago, I challenged Stephen Schwarzman to live up to the standard set by John D. Rockefeller Jr., who’d once owned the private-equity chief’s apartment in that fabled building, and add significant philanthropy to his resume. It took a few years, but Schwarzman did take up that challenge, as has been noted in this space. Today’s New York Times finds the Blackstone boss in China, giving away money for good again, donating a third of the cost of a new $300 million scholarship program for study in China, and helping raise the rest. As at the New York Public Library, recipient of his first $100 million gift, which renamed its main building for him, the program and the new college (at right, as designed by 15 Central Park West architect Robert A.M. Stern) will both bear his name, distinguishing his gifts from those of Rockefeller and the great friend of libraries, Andrew Carnegie. But let’s not quibble. That’s what it takes these days. Ya did good, Steve. Keep it up.
April 20th, 2013
Alex Gibney‘s documentary Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream, based on my book 740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building, is now available for sale or rental in the iTunes store. UPDATE: This week’s issue of the New Yorker is led by a story about Gibney’s film, detailing the pressure put on WNET, New York’s public broadcasting station, for broadcasting it.
February 12th, 2013
The new listing of a tower duplex at River House for $25.5 million by Brown Harris Stevens this week might seem to have been inspired by my Unreal Estate column on the building in this month’s Avenue Magazine, but in truth, it’s come on the market because its owner, Betty Evans, just died. Hers happens to be the only River House apartment I ever visited. She was a niece of Julia Loomis Thorne who, with her husband Landon, were two of the most fascinating characters ever to inhabit 740 Park, the subject of my 2005 book. Evans was one of my best sources for the Thorne pages, so I was disappointed when she didn’t answer my call for a quote for the Avenue column. Now, of course, I understand why she didn’t. And if I had anything to do with the decision to price her former home at twice the going rate for a River House unit, hurray. As I said in Avenue, it, like many of the great Manhattan co-ops, is seriously underpriced in this condomania moment. UPDATE: The wonderful folks at The New York Observer gave this piece some link love.
January 14th, 2013
Where’s Barclay’s banker-in-chief Robert “Bob” Diamond been since leaving Barclays in disgrace amidst a rate-fixing scandal last summer? Licking his wounds (and counting his millions) right in our midst in a modest $37 million penthouse at Fifteen Central Park West. Read that and other tales of high-end apartment insanity in Manhattan–and of the people who spend eight figures on it without blinking–in “Bonfire of the Verities,” my update of Tom Wolfe’s 1985 discussion of “the Good Buildings” in the new issue of the digital only Newsweek via The Daily Beast. 740 Park was one of the good buildings. These are the insanely good buildings.
December 27th, 2012
To each his own. Trophy building, that is. The Real Deal’s Jane Timm and Candace Taylor look at several of the city’s finest residences, then, now and, it predicts, in days to come, in this story on what it calls It Buildings. Two are the subjects of books by this blogger: Then, it was 740 Park. Now, I’m finishing my book on 15 Central Park West. One quoted broker says “she’s shown apartments at [the as yet unfinished] One57 to 15 CPW owners, some of whom are looking to sell before the older building loses its cachet,” the paper reports. That still hasn’t happened to 740 Park, eighty-two years after it first opened its doors. Does she mean that condos lack marketplace staying power, while co-ops keep their value and allure? As a co-op owner, I kind of hope so.
December 15th, 2012
The new issue of the bi-annual fashion magazine Husk has an interview with me by Eugenia Lapteva and a lengthy and irreverent guide to the residents of 740 Park (and some gate-crashers, too). I told Husk that 15 Central Park West is the new black, but apparently they still hanker for old school East Side co-ops. That’s alright. I still like my Turnbull & Asser blazer as much as I do the Rick Owens jacket I wear in the photo by Hadley Hudson that accompanies the piece. To read it in pdf form (be warned, it’s a big download) click the link Page_114-123-VFinal.
December 10th, 2012
Sandy Weill takes the cake, but he’s hardly along in cashing in on do-ops, condos and townhouses this year. The baker’s dozen biggest deals in residential real estate in New York City are the subject of my Unreal Estate column in the new December issue of Avenue magazine. And yes, 740 Park makes the list along with 15 Central Park West. (It’s a few pages–five clicks–into the “most talked about” feature.)
December 8th, 2012
Saul P. Steinberg, the financier, died yesterday at age 73. Though he declined to be interviewed for 740 Park, he nonetheless emerged as the book’s leading character, appearing in its opening pages and later, at the center of some of its most raucous moments. Felled by a stroke in 1995, he lost his business and sold his massive duplex apartment, one of if not the grandest in the city, to Steven Schwarzman for a then record-setting $29.9 million in 2000, and left the public stage he had occupied since the 1960s. He is survived by his second and third wives and six children.
November 29th, 2012
“None of those Park Avenue billionaires will sleep any less soundly after watching this film,” says the Telegraph’s Neil Midgley after viewing Alex Gibney‘s Park Avenue, based on my book 740 Park, which debuted on England’s BBC4 the other night. The reviewer went on to condemn the documentary as “a pretty thin retread of some already well-vented resentments in US politics.” The Independent disagreed, hailing Gibney’s conclusion that, “The US, built on the promise that anyone can drag themselves out of poverty if they work hard enough, actually has lower social mobility than most other comparable democracies.” Gripepad reports. You can decipher the mixed message from across the pond for yourself.