Travel + Leisure contributing editor Gross’ (Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles, 2011, etc.) latest chronicle of the .01 percent shifts to the other side of Central Park.
Whereas 740 Park (2007) told the story of old-money New York and co-op living in one of the city’s most storied buildings, this book examines 15 Central Park West, 740 Park’s new rival. Unlike its crosstown counterpart, 15 CPW’s pedigree is not blue-blood–bred. It was bought—in cash—by the world’s new elite. Built in 2007 by noted architect Robert A.M. Stern, 15 CPW was conceived as apartment living for a new age of financiers, moguls, celebrities, tycoons and anyone else who could afford an apartment’s exorbitant price tag. Exclusivity was only a matter of how much you could pay, not whether you fit the building’s profile. Consecrated to the idolatry of money, it’s no surprise that the bank principally in charge of financing the project was Goldman Sachs and no further surprise that most of the bank’s senior management received sweetheart deals on their new apartments. Among the building’s A-list have been Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Citigroup founder Sandy Weill, Denzel Washington and Sting. While the lives of the rich and famous have seemingly endless appeal, much of the building’s story is bogged down in ancillary histories, like a century’s worth of real estate development on Manhattan’s West Side and Columbus Circle area and a generational history of the legendary Zeckendorf family. (Brothers Arthur and William led the development of 15 CPW.) While this detail provides a solid foundation for understanding why 15 CPW came to be, it is also exhaustive and not always relevant. It seems that every person caught in the development and purchase of 15 CPW is treated with a back story, and this only reinforces the age-old truism that no matter how much money you have, it doesn’t necessarily make you interesting.
An incisive but somewhat tedious report of New York’s “new money.”