"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.
October 17th, 2012
The 14th issue of Acne Paper, a lavish, oversized custom publication, is a tribute to New York City and features an interview with me by Freddie Campion about luxury real estate, focused on 740 Park and my upcoming book on Fifteen Central Park West. If you don’t mind loading a PDF file, you can find it here.
October 13th, 2012
How do you make a documentary for a series called Why Poverty? based on a book about a plutocrat palace? That’s what Kim Velsey asks in this New York Observer post on the soon-to-be-released movie, Park Avenue. When the Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney called to see if he could buy the rights to 740 Park and base his film on it, he summed up the answer to Velsey’s question thusly: We’re both more interested in the perps than the vics.
October 11th, 2012
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, of course.
October 6th, 2012
Tomorrow’s New York Times notes the posting in city records of the recent $19.5 million sale of the late Randolph and June Speight’s apartment at 740 Park to a Goldman Sachs partner, and pulls a bunch of juicy details from the pages of 740 Park, the book, to buttress its item. Those tid-bits are uncredited, and at this point, who cares? But one error begs for correction. Big Ticket columnist Robin Finn pulled a bunch of names from the book for her list of those “turned down” by 740′s co-op board (long run by Speight), but incorrectly includes the singer and actress Barbra Streisand. Her experience at 740, in fact, illustrated an important subtlety about well-run (if, yes, picky) luxury cooperatives: Streisand never applied to buy a co-op at 740 and was never turned down. Her broker was discreetly told that an application would be in vain and she simply went elsewhere, an episode that was apparently not very painful, as she’s told me she barely recalls it. But the story bears repeating. Why was Streisand (seen at right in her film Yentl) waved off? Likely because she was a famous entertainer and a Democrat as, by the time she looked into the storied building, it already had a number of Jewish residents. Randolph Speight, however, was an anti-Semite and a board member of a group that promoted eugenics, a fancy form of racism. “He would talk out against the Jews after a few drinks,” an aquaintance told me. How delightful, then, that a Goldman banker will soon occupy his former abode.
September 28th, 2012
The longtime home of 740 Park’s longtime co-op board head Randolph Speight (a compelling presence in my book 740 Park) and his widow June, on the market since her 2008 death, is reported sold today by Kim Velsey at the New York Observer. She IDs the buyers as Jonathan Sobel, a former Goldman Sachs partner, and his wife Marcia Dunn. “Shouldn’t Mr. Sobel be joining the rest of the Goldman gang in 15 Central Park West, or even showing them all up and buying into One57?” Velsey asks. Then she answers her own question. “Some buildings, 740 Park chief among them, will never lose their allure, no matter what gets built in this town.”
September 17th, 2012
When I started researching the book that became 740 Park, I began with a list of fascinating buildings, and eventually settled on one. But the others retain their fascination and thanks to Avenue, which gave me a column in the spring named after my current book, Unreal Estate, I now get to write about them, too. My September column (read it here) peeks past the doorman at 834 Fifth, home of Rupert Murdoch, A. Alfred and Judy Taubman and Carroll Petrie, among many others.
August 15th, 2012
Who would you rather share an elevator with? A puppy or an armed Secret Service man and Paul Ryan? In this week’s New York Observer, Kim Velsey looks at the tribal rights of fundraising nights in New York’s best buildings, and includes 740 Park (home of big Republican donors like David Koch and Steve Schwarzman) in her survey of buildings where candidates feed at the money trough.
July 14th, 2012
David Geffen‘s reported purchase of tax-avoider Denise Rich‘s Fifth Avenue apartment for $54 Million sets a new record, says Matt Chaban of the New York Observer. It’s been more than a decade since 740 Park held that record. Sell, Steve Schwarzman, sell!
June 25th, 2012
Three weeks ago, Bank of America quietly sued Kent Swig, his estranged wife Elizabeth Macklowe Swig, and The 740 Corporation, the cooperative that owns 740 Park, seeking to foreclose for non-payment on the Swigs’ duplex apartment there, and seize their proprietary lease and the associated shares in the fabled co-op, presumably planning to put it on the market to recoup what is owed the bank on a consolidated $17.6 million loan against the apartment. Read the lawsuit here [pdf alert]. My question: Whose apartment will be listed first? The Swigs? Or Ezra Merkin, owner of apartment 6/7B at 740, who just made a $405 million settlement with New York State of charges related to his role in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme?