"[Tom] Wolfe's gift was in summing up an era through his description of [Sherman] McCoy and his environs. Michael Gross has done likewise by taking us inside the most expensive, most powerful address in the world....Stunning."Michael Smerconish, CNN
"Michael Gross, an author with a delicate appreciation for bloated egos and wealth, makes them glitter in 'House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World's Most Powerful Address.' The intersecting strands of money, politics, greed, taste, ambition shine brightly."Manuela Hoelterhoff, Bloomberg News
“Michael Gross’s new book…packs [in] almost as many stories as there are apartments in the building (202). The Jackie Collins of real estate likes to map expressions of power, money and ego…even more crammed with billionaires and their exploits than 740 Park.”Penelope Green, New York Times
"Michael Gross, America’s answer to Robin Leach, takes another gossip-laden bite out of the upper crust in his dishy House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World’s Most Powerful Address. What’s remarkable is the degree of access Mr. Gross was granted or finagled, a reflection that ego has no bounds.”Sam Roberts, New York Times
"If anyone needs convincing that the richest of the rich have continued to get richer, unaffected by the financial crash of 2008 and the subsequently misfiring economy, here is the proof...Still [Gross] demonstrates conclusively the abiding truth of Clare Booth Luce's observation, 'Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable.'"The Economist
“Michael Gross…rules[s] the school of literature you might call Books About Buildings Where Lots of Rich People Live.”Paul Goldberger, Vanity Fair
"All the glittery details [on] the Downtown Abbey of Manhattan."Vanessa Golembewski, Refinery29
"A deliciously detailed and completely engaging look at how the 0.1 percent live."Booklist (starred review)
"Michael Gross...has made the privacy-mad 1% of New York crazy because he investigates and tells their many secrets. This is called a scandal in some sections; journalistic excellence in others. Outrageous...fun."Liz Smith, The Huffington Post
"A steamy tell-all."--Radar Online
"A lot of fun, and definitely worth a read."Curbed New York
"Gross takes a building, Fifteen Central Park West, and uses it to describe the face-off between exclusive co-ops and democratic condos, and between the old families of the Upper East Side and upstarts moving into the Upper West Side....“Well-told…full of both contempt and admiration…overindulgence…irony..."Publishers Weekly
"House of Outrageous Fortune pulls back the limestone curtain of 15 Central
Park West to reveal seismic shifts in New York society and the astonishing
lifestyle-without-limits of the new global elite. It's a dishy — but not
trashy — page-turner."
Barbara Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Group and
star of ABC's Shark Tank
"Michael Gross has done it again! In intricate and revelatory detail, he
shows how Fifteen Central Park West became the most famous and talked-about
building in Manhattan: It's the people who live there, of course, and Gross
gives us a front-row seat on their passions, their antics and why they want
the very best money can buy."
William D. Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to
Rule the World
"Both an incisive social commentary on our modern Gilded Age and an
irresistible peek behind the walls of 15 Central Park West, otherwise known
as "Limestone Jesus." With characteristic audacity and wit, Michael Gross
has deftly chronicled the immense egos (and bank accounts) of the nouveau
riche who reside at Manhattan's most coveted address."
Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose
"Want to understand what Occupy Wall Street was about? In House of
Outrageous Fortune, Michael Gross explains it--and then some. With a
rollicking, informative history of New York City, tales of mega real estate
fortunes made and lost, and dizzying examples of the super-wealthy's greed
and ostentation, Gross deftly traces the arc of America both socially and
financially and proves that the top two percent most certainly do not live
like you or I."
Dana Thomas author of Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster
"Michael Gross captures the phenomenon that is 15 Central Park West, where
creative talent, towering ambition and unimaginable wealth instill a magical
aura of glamour and romance not seen in a Gotham apartment house since the
Peter Pennoyer, Architect, author and chairman of The Institute of
Classical Architecture & Art
In real-estate-obsessed New York, no new building has captured the city’s imagination—or as many of its richest residents—like Fifteen Central Park West.
In House of Outrageous Fortune, America’s foremost chronicler of the upper-crust, journalist and bestselling author Michael Gross, turns his much-admired gimlet eye on the new-money wonderland that’s sprung up on the southwest rim of Central Park, and mixes an engrossing business epic with hilarious social comedy to create a dishy exposé of today’s most wealthy and famous. This is the colorful story of a record-setting building’s inspired genesis and costly construction as well as the flashy international lifestyle it has brought to a once benighted and socially déclassé Manhattan neighborhood.
With two concierge-staffed lobbies, a walnut-lined library, a lavish screening room, a private sixty-seat restaurant offering residents room service, a health club complete with a seventy-foot swimming pool, and penthouses that cost almost $100 million, Fifteen is the most outrageously successful, insanely expensive, titanically tycoon-stuffed real estate development of the 21st century. And you know any building that’s home to such unimaginable wealth and heavyweight egos—its cast of characters includes Denzel Washington, Sting, Alex Rodriquez, Norman Lear, NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon, hedge fund heads Daniel Loeb and Daniel Och, Russian and Chinese oligarchs, and top executives of Citibank, JPMorganChase, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Disney, Google, and Yahoo!, among many more–will be chock-full of jaw-dropping excess. Not to mention astonishing stories.
Gross won unprecedented access to the people behind this instantly legendary building, including the scions of the fabled Zeckendorf real estate dynasty, their financial backers, Goldman Sachs and Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, and their starchitect Robert A.M. Stern. Then, he drilled into its limestone façade to ferret out the stories Fifteen’s fathers and its residents don’t want told. [Starting with a wide-angle look at how Manhattan developed as two cities–east side and west side, one patrician, the other more ethnic and less wealthy–the book reveals the larger story of how the wall between the two broke down, turning New York into a magnet for the emerging Global Super-elite that runs our world.]
The aging financial lions of the mid-20th century have given way to a brash new pride that feasts on the 21st-century economy and then beds down at 15CPW. More than just an apartment building, it represents a massive paradigm shift in the lifestyle of New York’s rich and famous—and is a bellwether of the city’s changing social and financial landscape. With unmatched access, prodigious enterprise and dazzling detail, House of Outrageous Fortune is a sweeping history of those changes, and pulls open wide the gilded walls of Fifteen to reveal the private lives of that .01%.
March 6th, 2021
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.
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.
August 25th, 2017
In reporting the news that Fifteen Central Park West, opened in 2008, remains the city’s most expensive residential building nine years later, arriviste claims for Billionaire’s Row on Fifty-seventh Street notwithstanding, the real estate blog 6sqft also name-checks the “scathing tell-all” House of Outrageous Fortune. That’s my 2014 New York Times bestseller about the building, its residents and developers, and how it came to claim and keep that distinction. Scathing, which means caustic, bitter denunciation, isn’t the word I’d choose, but I’m glad I got a (high-)rise out of them.
July 16th, 2017
Last week, 740 Park was back in the news in The Real Deal, which wrote of a price cut on a long-listed duplex, and in the Wall Street Journal, after the sale by hedgie David Ganek of the apartment where Jackie Kennedy grew up, and 15 Central Park West was spotlit in a story on buildings that attract celebrities in the New York Post. UPDATE: And the winner of Jacklie O’s apartment, according to the Wall Street Journal, is Jacob Safra!
June 20th, 2017
Last week, William D. Cohan interviewed me on covering the world of wealth in New York at a 92Y Talk. Here’s the podcast.
February 12th, 2017
“One of our most provocative journalists, Michael Gross has cornered the market for insiders’ stories of the most bewitching and private worlds of the privileged, very rich, talented and beautiful,” says the 92nd Street Y, announcing my forthcoming appearance there on the night of June 12th, when I’ll engage in conversation with William D. Cohan, the former M&A investment banker for Lazard Frères and bestselling author of books about Wall Street. Speaking of insider stories, on Friday, Bloomberg “revealed” details of financier and Trump administration advisor Stephen Schwarzman‘s 70th birthday party in Palm Beach this weekend. But readers of AVENUE magazine, where I’m editor-in-chief, had that news first, more than three weeks ago. And here’s Cohan on Trump and Wall Street–a must read from today’s New York Times.
January 13th, 2017
Real Estate Weekly reports that the highest price per square foot achieved in New York last year was nearly $10,000 paid for a sky high apartment at Fifteen Central Park West. That’s more money (by a significant measure) than any of the wannabes on the Billionaire’s Belt attracted. Toldja so.
October 24th, 2016
Read my latest story on Donald J. Trump on The Daily Beast. “I’m sorry, Ivanka, I really am, but here’s the sad truth: Your dad’s not a dog. He’s a pig.”
May 24th, 2016
The House of Outrageous Fortune, Fifteen Central Park West, has once again climbed to the top of the New York apartment house heap according to a semiannual report from City Realty with average resales of over $6,000 per square foot, $1,000 more than newer, taller competing properties like One57 and 432 Park–and that despite a 4.7 percent decline in its performance. Fifteen’s staying power is all the more remarkable given the fact that many of the other buildings in the top ten are newer properties. Indicating, perhaps, that the smart money knows newer and taller isn’t necessarily better. Limestone Jesus rules.
May 16th, 2016
“This is the best book on the real world of top photographers in the fashion industry ever,” says designer Barry Kieselstein-Cord. “Having hired and worked with many of them covered in Michael’s book I can tell you the back stories are mind blowing. Anyone remotely connected to fashion should read his book!”