In "House of Outrageous Fortune," America's foremost chronicler of the upper crust, journalist and bestselling author Michael Gross, turns his gimlet eye on the new-money wonderland that's sprung up on the southwest rim of Central Park. Read more...
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In "House of Outrageous Fortune," America's foremost chronicler of the upper crust, journalist and bestselling author Michael Gross, turns his gimlet eye on the new-money wonderland that's sprung up on the southwest rim of Central Park. Mixing an absorbing business epic with hilarious social comedy, Gross creates a dishy expose of today's wealthiest and most famous. This colorful story recounts the recordsetting building's inspired genesis, costly construction, and the flashy international lifestyle it has brought to a once benighted and socially declasse 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 twenty-first century. And any building that's home to such unimaginable wealth and heavyweight egos--its cast of characters includes Denzel Washington, Sting, Alex Rodriguez, Norman Lear, NASCAR's Jeff Gordon, hedge fund heads Daniel Loeb and Daniel Och, Russian and Chinese oligarchs, and top executives of Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, AIG, Disney, Google, and Yahoo , among many more--will be chock-full of jaw-dropping excess.
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 past its limestone facade to ferret out the stories Fifteen's fathers and its residents don't want told.
More than just an apartment building, 15CPW 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 its dazzling detail, "House of Outrageous Fortune" is a sweeping history of those changes, and it pulls open wide the gilded walls of Fifteen to reveal the private lives of that .01 percent.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-12-09
- Reviewer: Staff
The story of New York City wealth is well told through accounts of its most prestigious addresses. As in his last book, 740 Park, 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. The book is at its best when describing how architect Robert Arthur Morton Stern exercised every creative instinct to maximize profit and stay within New York’s complex zoning requirements, but most of the text is a complex rundown of the buyers: who they are, where their money comes from, and why they bought. Many of the buyers were captains of the financial world, including: Daniel Seth Loeb, a loud and offensive hedge fund manager; Erin Callan, Lehman Brother’s former CFO; and Lloyd Blankfein, of Goldman Sachs fame. Gross’s depiction of these captains of finance is full of both contempt and admiration. The words “million” (real estate prices) and “billion” (net worth) occur so often as to create a feeling of overindulgence. As the selling of 15CPW condos parallels the financial crisis, Gross plays with the irony that the value of residences in the building was completely immune to the popping of the real estate bubble. 16-page 4 color insert. Agent: Daniel A. Strone, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)