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740 Park

The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building

"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

Photo of 740 ParkFor 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.

November 7th, 2019

The Real Deep State: 740 Park

Today’s New York Times reviews Aaron Glantz‘s Homewreckers, on the real estate meltdown that sparked the Great Recession. The Times notes that many of the perpetrators in the book’s pages live under the same Park Avenue roof, but doesn’t reveal the address, and names only one of them. That’s Steven Mnuchin, now Secretary of the Treasury, and one of the current administration’s few surviving Original Cheerleaders. The building is 740 Park of course, and John Thain, Steve Schwarzman (with Mnuchin, O.C. Wilbur Ross, and anther guy on the book’s jacket), as well as former resident Ronald O. Perelman, are all covered. Thanks to Glantz for citing my book on the building, still in print–and relevant–thirteen years after it was first published.

October 16th, 2019

Coming Soon: Unreal Estate, the e-book

I’m happy to reveal that Unreal Estate, my social/real estate history of the richest communities in Los Angeles, will shortly be re-published, exclusively as an e-book, after almost seven years out of print. “Great Hollywood houses, great Hollywood tragedies, great book,” said The Chicago Tribune. I’ll post a link for purchase as soon as it’s available.

October 7th, 2019

L’affaire Brunel: Jeffrey Epstein’s French Connection

Last week, Radio France broadcast and published its multi-platform look into Jean-Luc Brunel, the French model agent alleged to have “fed” young models to Jeffrey Epstein, the pervert plutocrat who killed himself in his jail cell rather than face his accusers. The Cellule Investigation references both my 1995 book (called Top Model in its French translation) and my recent recollection of a disturbing encounter with Brunel in The Daily Beast. To hear the show (in French), go to this link and click the play button.

September 25th, 2019

Green With Desire

The Hollywood Reporter looks back at Dolly Green, daughter of a founder of Beverly Hills, and a major character in my book Unreal Estate. They call her an original housewife of Beverly Hills, a description rife with reality-TV tackiness that surely would have made her bristle. Her full life story will again be available in a new e-book-only re-release of Unreal Estate, to be published soon.

September 2nd, 2019

A Labor Day Flashback

Labor Day weekend 1997 tout Southampton was at David Koch’s annual beach fireworks party when the new broke that the Princess of Wales had died in Paris shortly before the party broke up. Ever a reporter, I woke up my editor and nine days later, my story “The Princess and the Jackals” appeared in New York magazine. “Those in the press and the public who blame the paparazzi for Diana’s death,” read the deck, “need to come to terms with their own predatory instincts.”

July 10th, 2019

Meet the Ghosts of 740 Park

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The apartment with the best back story at 740 Park has changed hands, according to the real estate mavens at The Real Deal. Developer Will Zeckendorf, who bought it in 2011 for $27 million, has now sold it to LBO kingpin Peter May and his wife Leni for $29.5 million, hopefully breaking even.

The flat was originally occupied by a prominent lawyer and Appeals Court justice, Clarence J. Shearn, whose wife Dorothea, a complex and riveting character, was the neighbor-from-hell to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who lived beneath her. Then, the 17th floor simplex (shown in a 1930s photograph) became a shuttlecock after Dorothea was forced out of the building, with Rockefeller, “Big Bill” Zeckendorf, Will’s grandfather and a real estate legend himself, and Chrysler heiress Thelma Foy, all vying for it.

Will Zeckendorf, a major character in my subsequent book, House of Outrageous Fortune, about his equally iconic 15 Central Park West, has consistently denied that his grandfather’s failure to enter the hallowed 740 was part of his motivation for buying it. So it’s doubly curious that buyer May, partners in Trian, which owns companies like Snapple and Arby’s, finds himself in a similar so-there position. In 1972, his Trian partner, Nelson Peltz, was rejected when he tried to buy a home in the notoriously picky co-op (it went instead to conglomerateur David Mahoney and his wife Hillie Mahoney). And hat’s just a footnote to a saga so strange, I sometimes felt I could have written an entire book just about the Shearn and Rockefeller apartments. You can read all about this in 740 Park.

UPDATE: Nancy Ruhling at Mansion Global has covered the sale, too.

May 8th, 2019

“The Avenue’s Most Exclusive Address” –New York Times

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Looks like Park Avenue is the focus of the New York Times Real Estate section’s weekly “Living In” feature this weekend. And 740 Park gets the requisite name check. Thanks for that, C.J. Hughes.

February 16th, 2019

Lee Radziwill, R.I.P.

E4622E09-9F82-467D-AF45-C0EF3F179D09I first met Lee Radziwill, who died Friday at her home in Manhattan, more than thirty years ago when she handled public relations for the Milanese designer Giorgio Armani.  Years later, when I wrote about her childhood at 740 Park in my book on the storied apartment house,  she told me of the time her sister Jacqueline Bouvier (later Kennedy Onassis), saved her life after she tried to crawl out one of its sixth floor windows to escape the stifling atmosphere caused by her dissolute father, Black Jack Bouvier’s profligacy, and their parents’ failing marriage.  Window guards were subsequently installed to prevent a recurrence of her great escape.  But my favorite Lee anecdote is contained in a column I wrote for Avenue about the Southampton home of one of her boyfriends, the lawyer and man-about-town Peter TufoRead it here and learn about the moment when vengeance against a misbehaving man was hers.  Lee was soft-spoken but high-spirited and will be sorely missed.

January 2nd, 2019

JFK Jr: New doc debuts

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Tomorrow night, ABC broadcasts The Last Days of JFK Jr., a new documentary.  My voice is in the trailer, so I suspect I’ll be in the show, talking about my two cover stories on the American prince.  The first was for New York Magazine in 1989 and appeared as the man I called “Just John” was going to work for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.  The second, for Esquire in 1995, caught up with John as he launched his political magazine George.  Like his death, that mag, which sat at the intersection of politics and celebrity, came too soon.

September 16th, 2018

Mnuchin Asking $32.5 Million at 740 Park

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The news that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has listed his sprawling A-Line duplex at 740 Park Avenue made headlines this week.  Besides the Wall Street Journal’s scoop by Katherine Clarke (shown), Forbes also featured the listing, citing the book that remains the primary source on the world’s richest apartment building.