"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.
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.
Writes Dirt’s dishmeister Mark David, “There are at least three other units at 740 Park Avenue that are currently for sale, and with much lower prices: An opulent if outdated lower floor duplex, the longtime home of late financier Charles Dyson and his late wife June Dyson, popped up for sale last month at $19.5 million; former U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decidedly traditional duplex — in the same line and the same size as the Winns’ pad but a handful of floors higher — is now listed at a comparatively bargain basement price of $25.75 million after it was first listed almost 3.5 years ago at $32.5 million; and former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain’s smaller but no less deluxe duplex penthouse, with four terraces but just one proper bedroom, plus two staff rooms and a study convertible to a bedroom, is now priced at $32.5 million after it was initially put up for sale nearly three years ago at $39.5 million.”
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 dynasty department, either. His grandfather, William “Big Bill” Zeckendorf, was a similarly legendary real estate titan in the years after World War II, and his father, Bill Zeckendorf followed in his footsteps. Their roller-coaster family saga is told in my books 740 Park and House of Outrageous Fortune, about 15 CPW, where Will (who is pictured with a model of 15 CPW) set a price-per-square-foot record when he sold a 41st floor apartment there to the founder of Garmin for $40 million in 2010.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.