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House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World's Most Powerful Address Hardcover – March 11, 2014


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House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World's Most Powerful Address + 740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building + Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451666195
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451666199
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Fifteen Central Park West is the New Gilded Age address of a new generation of moguls enjoying the costliest real estate in an enclave of international wealth from the worlds of finance, technology, information, and entertainment. Gross, chronicler of the wealthy in 740 Park (2005) and Unreal Estate (2011), looks beyond the list of notable tenants (Sting, Denzel Washington, top executives from Goldman Sachs, Google, and Yahoo) to explore the changes in the architectural and social landscape of elite Manhattan. Gone are the days of snobbish cooperative boards declining the déclassé, gone are the old assumptions of the “good buildings.” Gross details the ego-bruising battles to get into 15 CPW and the campaigns to snag just the right tenants for the “tycoon-stuffed” building. Gross offers historical perspective on the real-estate market in Manhattan, on the rise and fall of trendy buildings and their owners and tenants up to the latest shift in real-estate and financial markets, which has broadened the upper crust to include the newly wealthy, foreigners, and more ethnic Americans. Drawing on interviews with real-estate titans and power brokers, Gross provides a deliciously detailed and completely engaging look at how the 0.1 percent live in one building. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"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 Gatsby era." (Peter Pennoyer, Architect, author and chairman of The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art)

“Michael Gross's HOUSE OF OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE is a book about a building the way MOBY DICK is a book about a fish. History, real-estate wheeling and dealing, the economics of the buccaneer class, the arcane realpolitik of condos and co-ops, even floor-plans: it's all here. If you want to find out why Manhattan's skyline looks the way it currently does, this is the book to read.” (--Amanda Vaill author of Hotel Florida and Everybody Was So Young)

"A deliciously detailed and completely engaging look at how the 0.1 percent live in one building." (Booklist, starred review)

“Michael Gross…rules the school of literature you might call Books about Buildings Where Lots of Rich People Live” (Vanity Fair)

"As much fun as any thriller or fiction." (Joan Hamburg)

"Demonstrates conclusively the abiding truth of Clare Boothe Luce’s observation, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you’re being miserable." (The Economist)

"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)

More About the Author

Michael Gross is one of America's most provocative non-fiction writers. A contributing editor of Travel + Leisure and columnist for Avenue, he's written for Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, Town & Country,the New York Times and New York, and authored twelve books--novels, biographies and social histories--among them, Unreal Estate, a social history of the estate district of Los Angelesow in development as an HBO series, Rogues' Gallery, a history and expose of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the critically-acclaimed best-sellers Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women and 740 Park. He's just finished his next book, House of Outrageous Fortune, the story of 15 Central Park West and its residents. Atria Books will publish it next year.

Customer Reviews

Book too wordy and boring.
marciad
Although I began reading this book with interest, I quickly became bored with it.
Ann I Crawley
A must-read for anyone who loves New York.
Paul A. Issa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Te message behind Fifteen Central Park West is the dream of classical opulence for the ultra wealthy buyers of today's economy. Many of the older, established luxury buildings are co-ops in which a board must approve one's application to buy. Single moms, international wanderers, and ovcious social fringe groups need not apply. The new money is international, concerned with status, demanding of service, and without cultural bounds. Here is the birth of buildings of condominiums like this one.

This book goes into detail, sometimes excruciating, of the founding both of the building and the careers of its builders. The provenance of the plot itself is traced historically back through the non-romantic days of "West Side Story". The prose is clear, but the details drag at times for me. I think this is an indication of individual taste rather than a short coming of the book in general. A person looking to understand the real estate changes in residential space in NYC would find this part gratifying.

For me the more interesting part is the discussion in the last fourth of the book of the buyers who eventually either invested in or inhabited the building. The detail is rich, no pun intended, and one can easily picture the building as the organism that the developers had dreamed. The book is sold as somewhat more sensational than the product delivered. While the expensive features are certainly revealed, there is nothing of the "wealth porn" that has come to the shelves recently. Rather the book reveals the features that can be and are had by the super rich in a measured tone. It makes for an interesting look at that tiny fraction of the world who can afford this building.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By R. Patrick Baugh on March 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you can get through the first 140 pages, which is basically a condensed version of NYC's real estate history, with more names thrown at you than a small town phone directory, you are rewarded with a fascinating study of the building and its mega-wealth inhabitants. And you'll be amazed what some people will do to get a deluxe apartment in the sky.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By B. Allyn on March 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
"House of Outrageous Fortune" by Michael Gross, published by Atria Books.

Category - Sociology Publication Date - March 11, 2014

It is very difficult to categorize this book because it could very well have been classified under several categories. It is a book that will be of interest to those who like books on New York, Architecture, Contracting, Real Estate, Celebrities, and Uncommon Wealth.

Fifteen and 15CPW all stand for the address 15 Central Park West. This address could easily be the most expensive address in the world. It is a high rise that has been subdivided into condos that command some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

The book is a history of the area surrounding the address, the people who foresaw the possibilities, and how they went about building the structure. This address has attracted such celebrities as Alex Rodriquez, Jeff Gordon, Bob Costas, Sting, and multi-millionaires both local and overseas. Many of the owners were people who acquired their fortunes in the hedge fund market.

Location, location, location. Depending on the location and size of a condo the going price, at initial offering, for the smallest unit was $1.78 million and the penthouses for $21 million.

Many buyers bought the condos as an investment and made millions of dollars when the building was complete and sold off their condo.

Although this is not an easy read, the parts that the reader may be interested in will fly by. The people involved, the insane amounts of money involved, and the putting together of this prestigious address almost seems like a work of fantasy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Jackson on June 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Before I was done I was totally confused with way too many characters had no idea if Mr. Gross was talking about early twentieth, late or twenty first century. I enjoyed the history of Manhattan and the men that created the modern city. In my opinion, had he narrowed his scope of material and keep some type of organization to let the reader know when the events were happening, I would have enjoyed the book more. I've read Mr. Gross work before and I don't remember it being like this.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Donald Seavey on May 19, 2014
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I found the book to be fascinating, I'm poor and was intrigued by the excess that is so very run of the mill for a lot of folks.
The book itself is fast paced but laced with names that I wouldn't recognize. I suspect that that would be the case with a majority of readers outside of the relatively small number of people who run in those circles (or want to). I found myself skipping quite a few pages toward the end as it dragged to a close. I probably wouldn't recommend it for the average, middle class reader, but I'm glad I read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Allison L. Olson on June 6, 2014
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There are some fascinating parts of the book, but it is way too bogged down with names and numbers that are irrelevant to the average reader. It gets boring pretty quickly . I rarely stop a book midway, but had to with this one.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By nursey on May 4, 2014
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I'm sure my opinion has absolutely nothing to do with the author but I was so bored with reading about these people and their outrageous excess of money that I just couldn't finish it. If you enjoy reading about the excessively rich and famous (amongst themselves) give it a go.
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