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Category: GripeBox

Vanderbilt Genes: “I don’t talk about it,” says Anderson Cooper

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In Fall 2004, I conducted an interview with Gloria Vanderbilt and her son Anderson Cooper for Bergdorf Goodman Magazine. In honor of Cooper’s just-published book (co-authored by Katherine Howe) on his mother’s family, here is that conversation: Gloria Laura Vanderbilt, a great-great-great grand-daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, aka The Commodore, first entered the public eye as the 10-year-old object of a bitter custody battle pitting her penniless widowed mother against her millionairess aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the pedigreed bohemian who founded the Whitney Museum. Nicknamed the “poor little rich girl” by the tabloid press, Gloria grew up to become a beauty, … Continue reading

How Did We Get Here? The Rise and Fall of the Met’s Costume Ball

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This exclusive excerpt adapted from the 2009 book, Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum, tells the story of the museum’s annual costume party. The 2021 edition of the event will be held tomorrow night. The Party of the Year, as it was originaly known, was an annual gala planned to raise $25,000 a year to add to the new Costume Institute’s endowment and, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s board hoped, generate publicity and prestige. The first, held in 1948, honored the designer Norman Norell. The second, a supper dance at … Continue reading

ViceTV takes on vice in Fashion

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ViceTV is first out of the box with a doc on the dark side of fashion modeling, pegged to the legal troubles of model agents Jean-Luc Brunel and Gerald Marie. Model and I are part of the story. Click here to see a preview.

All in the Family

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Former treasury guy for the still-an-asshole guy Steven Mnuchin has finally offloaded his long-empty 740 Park Avenue apartment, writes real estate reporter Kim Velsey. The 8th and 9th floor A-line duplex, in his family for three generations, has been sold to a member of another longtime 740 family, Lacey Tisch, daughter of Andrew, whose uncle Thomas and wife Alice Tisch live right next door in the building’s B-line. Both apartments look out over Park Avenue, though Lacey’s place is a bit more majestic. “It took three years and a $10 million price cut,” Velsey writes of the apartment “first listed … Continue reading

740 Park Prez Rand Araskog, RIP

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Rand Araskog, longtime president of the board of directors of the 740 Park cooperative, has died at age 89, reports the New York Times. The former chief executive of ITT, he owned a sixth floor duplex, once the home of “Black Jack” and Janet Bouvier, and the childhood home of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and sister Lee Radziwill, in the building’s sprawling A-line from 1980 until 2005, though who paid for it was a controversial question. A co-op board member is quoted in 740 Park, the building’s biography, ascribing the purchase to ITT, but a note in the conglomerate’s 1980 proxy … Continue reading

Timing is Everything

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Axios reports that Donald Trump is furious at David McIntosh, president of the right-wing Club for Growth (pictured), for urging him to endorse a candidate who just lost a special election in Texas. Why would I care about a loser and his ill-advisor? Because both Trump and McIntosh are characters in my book My Generation, released in 2000, now available as an e-book which you can buy here. Its thesis was that the Baby Boom was a big tent that included not just the obvious rock and rollers, druggies, gays and assorted progressives and libertines, but arch-conservatives like McIntosh, a … Continue reading

Flashback: The Spy Guys

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This second installment of resurfaced BG Conversations from my tenure as editor of Bergdorf Goodman Magazine brought together Kurt Anderson, Graydon Carter and George Kalogerakis of the late lamented Spy Magazine for a chat about the publication of Spy: The Funny Years, an anthology of their greatest hit (jobs) at the satirical dead tree shiv, er, mag. Remember magazines? They used to be a lot of fun for editors, writers and especially, readers.

Before #GetCarter: Dishing with Keith McNally and Nora Ephron

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Back in the oughts, I edited Bergdorf Goodman Magazine, and started a regular feature called BG Conversation, in which I invited two eminent New Yorkers to lunch and recorded their conversations. Sometimes they knew each other, sometimes they only wanted to know each other. Often, the conversations sparkled. In light of the social media tempest pitting former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter against restaurateur Keith McNally, I dug out this gem, a March 2004 BG Conversation featuring Keith and the late essayist, screenwriter and director Nora Ephron from an archive on my hard drive. Click the link to read it. … Continue reading

Model Gets a Fresh Look

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Of “the juiciest reads—tell-alls, exposés,” writes Lucia Tonelli on townndcountrymag.com “‘Model’ by Michael Gross is one I pick up regularly, read a few pages, and put down feeling like I’ve satisfied a social itch. The searing biography dives deep.” Thanks, Lucia!

Happy Birthday, Bob

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Eighty is a long run for a rock star, but you’re younger than that now.

On The Border

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With Europe about to re-open for American travelers, it seems a good moment to revisit a story published last August in Departures (in the depths of lockdown) under the rubric “well kept secret.” Pyla-sur-Mer and Cap Ferret are two of the most magical places I’ve ever visited. And soon, we’ll be able to visit them again. The photo here and in the story are by Ambroise Tézenas.

Book Bits

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Two of my books have earned press “hits” this week. An obituary by Penelope Green of modeling agent Barbara Stone put Model back in the New York Times. And Jennifer Gould of the New York Post references 740 Park in her report on former Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin‘s long, and finally-successful effort, to sell a radically price-chopped apartment at 740 Park Avenue that’s been in his family for three generations. Does the price reflect a similar discounting of the reputation of accomplices of the last administration?

Bill Gates: His Do-Right Pre-Nup Woman

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Twenty-three years ago, I interviewed Ann Winblad, now 70, the venture capitalist who was Bill Gates‘ girlfriend before his now-ruptured marriage to Melinda French Gates, and has reportedly remained close to the second richest man in the world ever since. The interview, for my book on the Baby Boom, My Generation, was edited out of the final draft. But you can read it here. Photo: JD Lasica

God Save the King (of Sweden)

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It’s bittersweet to have a story in the final print issue of Departures before it goes to the magazine graveyard, but sweet to share this piece on the rebirth of the Hotel Carl Gustaf on St. Barth. (That’s the view from its restaurant, pictured.)

Hack Flack

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The recent hack of my website continues to reverberate, and the Cast of Characters for 740 Park is currently offline, but IT wizards are at work on restoring it. Apologies, and thanks to Mark David of Dirt who alerted me to the page’s disappearance while sharing some news of the Park Avenue fortress.

Gyrating Prices at 740 Park

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As Manhattan’s luxury real estate market corrects and slowly begins to recover from its COVID swoon, there are, as in the stock market’s constituency, bulls, bears and pigs running free. Which brings us to the latest reveal of a listing at 740 Park Avenue, by the juicy real estate gossip site, Dirt. Tamara and Randy Winn, she’s the daughter of billionaire Ira Rennert, have listed their 740 duplex at $40 million, which would give them an $8 million profit over the “ridiculous” price they paid for it thirteen years ago. Writes Dirt’s dishmeister Mark David, “There are at least three … Continue reading

Words of Wisdom…and Otherwise

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Robin Givhan‘s column in today’s Washington Post–concerning Senator Ron Johnson, Sharon Osbourne and Dolce & Gabbana (strange bedfellows) notes, “Anyone with something to say that’s more than pablum inevitably draws a bit of blood; the truth, in particular, hurts….Wouldn’t we all like a bit of peace and quiet? But the ultimate answer to the insult — and the fear and the tears and the daily aggravating discomfort — is to simply keep talking.”

Flipping Out

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Will Lie Zeckendorf, co-developer with his brother Arthur Zeckendorf of 15 Central Park West, and former owner of apartments there, in the Majestic on Central Park West, and in 740 Park Avenue, has flipped apartments again, reports the New York Times, buying a third-floor eleven-room flat in architect J.E.R. Carpenter’s 960 Park Avenue for $11 million. The seller appears to be Jane Goldman Lewis, a child of the late Sol Goldman who, in his time, owned the largest real estate portfolio in New York City. When not walking on the flip side, Zeckendorf is no slouch in the real estate … Continue reading

Florida, Man! Palm Beach Has a Moment

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A year ago, I spent a week in Palm Beach and got the sense it was changing for the better.  On December 27, Departures published my “The New Palm Beach Story,” on the resort’s renaissance (it was behind a firewall until now). That was, of course, before the right-wing riot of January 6th, Joe Biden’s inauguration, and the return of Palm Beach’s favorite reality TV has-been. Since then, the same story has been told so many times it’s begun to seem Palm Beach may have jumped the shark. Or is that phrase as passé as the proprietor of Florida’s tackiest … Continue reading

I’ve Been Hacked!

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A hacker got into my web site and a number of past Gripepad posts were rendered unreadable–and can’t be recovered or repaired. If you tried to visit and were redirected in the past week or so, apologies.  That should not happen again.  If you see anything else out of the ordinary on the site, I hope you’ll let me know. I discovered the hack when I was looking for the post in which I first revealed problems at 432 Park–long before a local newspaper wrote about more at the 57th Street condo tower.  The hacked posts can’t be restored, alas. But … Continue reading

Howard Rubenstein, R.I.P.

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In the winter of 1999, I spent several weeks shadowing the PR giant Howard Rubenstein for this New York magazine cover story, “Shadow Warrior”. I walked into the assignment a skeptic but finished it an admirer. Rubenstein, whose first real-estate developer client was Fred Trump, died yesterday at 88 years. He was small in stature but a giant of New York.

Jeffrey Epstein’s Alleged Procurer Arrested

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A Rogue’s Reward

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  Eleven-plus years after Rogues’ Gallery was published, I discovered this appreciation, penned by Steven Miller, a museum director (at Boscobel, one of my favorites), curator, educator and prolific writer, the latest entry in Amazon’s customer reviews: “Having been in the museum field in various director and curatorial positions for fifty years, I can attest to the honesty and quality of this inside look at how these cultural institutions are governed and lead. The author has done impressive research into a realm rarely known or understood by the general public much less many in the museum profession. Museums have an … Continue reading

Going Negative

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Pre-travel COVID testing can be a pain in the nose. Read all about it here in my debut on the Departures web site.

No words

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What Goes Around Returns for Gerald Marie

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Gerald Marie, formerly the head of Elite Models in Paris, a husband of Linda Evangelista, and one of the villains in my 1995 book Model, is back in the news, charged with raping young models, according to the Sunday Times of London. Its story is locked but today’s New York Post includes a synopsis. If the ick factor doesn’t put you off, you can read all about Marie (who once threatened this reporter, saying that if I ever wrote about him I’d “never take another step” in Paris) in Model. These charges are new, but they date to a time … Continue reading

Beekman Town House Now Thats a price drop

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The New Koch

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Julia Koch, widow of conservative tub-thumber and Kansan conglomerateur David Koch, is the subject du jour for Michael Kaplan in the New York Post today–and 740 Park, where they lived together, and she now owns their apartment, looms over the story.

Veronica Uncovered

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Ben Smith in the Times has a great piece on the latest dramas at the male-dominated women’s magazine publisher Hearst this morning. Twenty-nine years ago, a glamorous woman briefly ran the sprawling Hearst Magazines empire–creating public dramas galore and defying its reputation for discretion. In one of my three stories on Hearst Magazines that year, I called her TheIntriguing Mrs. Hearst.

Goodbye, Javanka

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RIP, June Dyson of 740 Park

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    June Dyson, 101, who lived at 740 Park Avenue for 41 years, died earlier this month. She was the widow of Charles Dyson, a public-school educated leveraged buyout specialist who put together a conglomerate in the 1950s and 1960s and then became a public official and philanthropist. He also served on the building’s board, and married June, who’d managed Rockefeller money, when she was 72 and he was 80, after each of their first spouses died. “I really have nothing to say to you,” she told me when I called and asked for an interview for the book. … Continue reading

Need a Good Book?

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With containment, isolation and quarantine ongoing in much of Ameeica, I’m shacking up with a diverse batch of good books in May. I abandoned Hilary Mantel‘s The Mirror & the Light despite having devoured the first two books in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, but loved Julian Barnes‘ The Man in the Red Coat. Now I’m onto Jesse Kornbluth‘s JFK and Mary Meyer: A Love Story, and I have Sam Wasson‘s The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood on deck. It’s not easy to read as I’m writing most days, at work on my own next book, about … Continue reading

Layoffs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Peter Beard, R.I.P.

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Peter Beard, whose death at age 82 was confirmed yesterday, was an iconoclast as well as a photographer, artist, adventurer, and nightlife iron man. These two brief excerpts from Model and Focus illustrate the same bracing candor, humor and unchecked honesty he brought to both his life and his work. Click to magnify.

Christy and Naomi Have Model on Their Minds

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  My 1995 book Model came up on today’s episode of No Filter With Naomi, model Naomi Campbell‘s streaming YouTube “chat” show, an hour-long talk with one of her fellow members of the supermodel Trinity, Christy Turlington, both of whom are characters in the book. Some back story. In early 1992, I was asked to write a feature profile for New York magazine on one of the supes. Not long before, late one night at Azzedine Alaia’s atelier, Naomi had wrapped a leg around me and asked, “Why don’t you write a story about me?” So I started with her … Continue reading

Please Support Independent Booksellers

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I support the newest online bookseller, bookshop. Won’t you please click the link and support your local bookstore, too?

I’m a Someone!

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Kenny Rogers, R.I.P

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Pop and country music superstar Kenny Rogers, who died on Friday at 81, owned one of the storied mansions featured in Unreal Estate, The Knoll in Beverly Hills, and sat for an interview in the book, just re-released as an e-book after years out of print. Read how he soared from flat broke to the heights of the .01% by clicking here.

A Koch Catch-up

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My book 740 Park got name-checked in an article on the Koch family’s real estate holdings the Wall Steet Journal last week. You can read it here. The late David Koch is pictured with the late Frank Lautenberg.

Unreal Estate E-book Available Now

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Happy Holidays

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All About Avedon

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Photographer Gideon Lewin‘s highly anticipated book Avedon is out this week after a long delay caused by a legal tussle with the Richard Avedon Foundation, which sought to claim ownership of images Lewin shot in his many years as Avedon’s studio manager, and to claw back pictures the generous Avedon had given him. It’s an important companion piece to Focus, my book on postwar fashion photographers, in which Avedon plays the most prominent role, with Lewin as one of the chorus of voices telling the great one’s story. I used no Avedon images in Focus because the foundation insisted on … Continue reading

The Night of The Hunter: Jeffrey Epstein and Jean-Luc Brunel

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Jean-Luc Brunel (pictured) is like Lay’s Potato Chips to the French media. They can’t get enough of him–even though he’s bad for you. FranceTV just aired the latest piece on Jeffrey Epstein’s rabbateur and asked me to describe my experiences with him. Watch it here (but you need to understand French).

Playboy Club closes…again

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I see that the Playboy Club has gone belly up. I covered that story…23 years ago!

Flashback: Trump Trips in ’91

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Today’s Wall Street Journal took me back to a story I barely recall writing in 1991.

Rogues’ Gallery Redux

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Today’s New York Times reflects the current fashion for questioning the composition of the boards of cultural institutions. Ten years ago, Rogues’ Gallery did the same, using the sometimes sordid stories of the founders and boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a window on the ways cultural philanthropy is used by the wealthy and powerful to launder their reputations, and how those institutions encourage and protect them. The Times’ Book Review called the book “a blockbuster exhibition of human achievement and flaws.” So is the paper’s must-read story today.

My Night With Jeffrey Epstein’s Rabbateur

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Twenty five years ago in Paris, I interviewed Jean-Luc Brunel, the model agent now alleged to have procured underage girls for the late Jeffrey Epstein, for a book on the modeling business subtitled The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women. That night I got an acrid taste of just how ugly it could be. Highlights of that interview appeared in the book. I never told the rest—until now. The Daily Beast has the story.

L’Affair Epstein: The French Connection

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Tonight’s edition of 66 Minutes, the French equivalent of our 60 Minutes, includes a segment on Jeffrey Epstein and one of his key enablers, the French model agent and Miami modelizer Jean-Luc Brunel. Brunel was first exposed on 60 Minutes in 1988, and (apparently) first responded in a lengthy interview he gave for my 1995 book Model, which is featured at the 42-minute mark. Click here to watch it. Thanks to interviewer Edward Bally.

On David Koch (b. 1940, d.2019)

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In 2014, as acting editor of Avenue, sitting in that chair for just a few months, I faced a challenge. The October cover had been promised to David Koch, the right wing zealot and social figure, on condition the story be focused purely on his philanthropy, which was a legitimate subject–and ignore his more controversial political activism and influence. So I faced the question, how to package a story I hadn’t assigned when I had issues with its content. Koch himself provided the solution when he posed for the cover at the American Museum of Natural History, one of his … Continue reading

Meet Jeffrey Epstein’s Enabler

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French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel has become a focus of journalistic inquiry in the days since pedo Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide. Yesterday, Brunel made the front page of the Washington Post in a story that cites Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women. According to RTL, the French radio network, I’m “one of the few people to interview the Frenchman.” You can buy the book here. (Photo: Craig Pyes) UPDATE: My in-box continues to be a beacon for reporters on Brunel’s trail. Expect more revelations to come.