July 10th, 2019
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
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
I 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 Tufo. Read 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
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
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.
May 15th, 2018
Writing on architect Rosario Candela in Architectural Digest, David Netto calls 740 Park “riveting social history…a biography of an apartment building.”
May 5th, 2018
The most notable residence in the most notable apartment house on the Upper East Side, 740 Park, has lately been much in the news. A few weeks back, the New York Times’ T Magazine referred to the former residence there of Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg, Apartment 15-16B. In tomorrow’s Styles of the Times, in a profile of its current occupants, Steve and Christine Schwarzman, the apartment also figures prominently.
Though it’s really unnecessary, both articles inflate the apartment’s many virtues. T called it a triplex. The writer of the Styles profile referred to it as a “17,000-square-foot, three-floor penthouse.” In fact, while fabulously grand, it is none of those things, as Times editors partly acknowledged when they corrected that T article: “An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the apartment of Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg; it was a duplex, not a triplex.”
Back in 2009, when a Wall Street Journal reporter made similar mistakes, Gripepad noted it in a post in which I called myself ” the self-appointed guardian of 740 facts” and pointed to a page from the cooperative’s 1929 offering plan (which appears elsewhere on this web site) as backup. Here it is:
So here we go again. The apartment, built for George Brewster, a descendant of the leader of the Plymouth Colony, and long occupied by John D. Rockefeller Jr., is a duplex occupying a portion of the building’s 15th and 16th floors (click the links to see floor plans) with a mezzanine containing servants’ bedrooms wedged in like a loft bed over the home’s lower service rooms (a servant’s lunch room, laundry and the kitchen).
It is also, as I wrote here nine years “somewhat larger than 20,000 square feet (although its exact dimensions, like those of most cooperative apartments in New York City, have never been given).” And, as that Offering Plan also notes, while the ingeniously complex building has two penthouses, they sit above the floor on which the Schwarzmans live.
To quote the late great George Bernard Shaw, “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time. “
April 28th, 2018
Walt Disney said that, and yesterday’s real estate news shows it’s still true. On both the east and west coasts, trophy properties with remarkable histories have gone on the market and attracted attention for their inherent quality–as well as their sky-high asking prices.
In Bel Air, California, Variety’s brilliant Realestalker Mark David reports, soap opera mogul Bill Bell and his wife Maria, an arts philanthropist have listed a mansion prominently featured in my book on West Los Angeles, Unreal Estate (which is currently out of print). Designed by Wallace Neff for film producer and studio mogul Sol Wurtzel, it was later home to a celebrity psychic and astrologer-to-the-stars and is said to have been sublet to to Howard Hughes, Prince Ranier of Monaco and Elvis Presley. Later owned by British character actor Reginald Owen, it was acquired in 1962 by owner Dolly Green, daughter of oilman Burton Green, a co-founder of the city of Beverly Hills. Her estate sold it to the Bells for $4.775 million. Bell is now asking $37.5 million for it.
On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, an exquisite jewel-box duplex pied-a-terre with remarkable provenance, spelled out in my book 740 Park, has gone on the market for $39.5 million. Listed by banker John Thain (as the last chairman and chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch before its merger with Bank of America, he was one of the central characters in the last decade’s economic collapse), it has had only three owners since 1933, when it was first occupied by Blanche Brownell Grant, a W.T. Grant Stores heiress and Gurdjieff disciple. Its second owner was Annenberg heiress Enid Haupt, who lived there from 1967 until Thain bought the apartment from her estate for $27.5 million in 2006, shortly after 740 Park was published.
January 2nd, 2018
Please visit this Facebook page and vote (by hitting LIKE) for AVENUE’s July 2017 cover of Patti Hansen at Studio 54 by Anton Perich as the ASME magazine cover of the year. Every vote counts and I’m counting on yours!
December 2nd, 2017
Today’s Page Six revealed that photographer Bruce Weber, a major character in FOCUS, is the latest figure in fashion accused of sexual harassment. You can read the complaint filed against Weber in NYS Supreme Court male model Jason Boyce’s lawsuit by clicking here.