Last night, The Observer headed to Park Avenue for a cocktail party. This wasn’t a spontaneous affair, but rather a fête for intrepid author Michael Gross in celebration of his new book Unreal Estate. While the party was not at 740 Park, the building Mr. Gross fetishized in a previous book, it was just a few blocks south of that towering edifice of wealth—which surely pleased the author.
We entered a lavish spread, and were promptly offered a cucumber cosmo. Almost immediately after our arrival, we heard a smash. “THAT’S ALRIGHT!” shouted the hostess, Corcoran’s Vice President Wendy Sarasohn a millisecond later. Several waiters soon appeared on the scene and squatted with paper towels, mopping up the mess.
Looking around, we noticed much of New York’s real estate elite mingling in the apartment. John Burger, Barbara Fox, Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman, Melanie Lazenby and Thomas Teeple all chatted with Mr. Gross, congratulating him on his latest effort. Abundant appetizers, from Yellowfin tuna to duck confit, were passed around and eagerly consumed by guests.
Eventually, guests were called into the living room where Ms. Sarasohn introduced Mr. Gross and the new book. “Michael’s book is way up there on the LA bestseller list and we’ve got to get it up on the New York best seller list,” she said.
“From your mouth to God’s ears,” Mr. Gross added.
“Well I have a good connection with God!” she said, with a laugh.
Mr. Gross then commenced a twenty minute mini-biography detailing his career from start to finish. Peppered with real estate jokes that had the crowd chortling over their drinks, Mr. Gross explained how he embarked on his mission to chronicle the lives of, in his words, America’s aristocracy.
After writing his inflammatory book about the MET, he decided to “get out of town.”
“I had the thought of writing a book about the South of France, to which my publisher crossed himself, wrapped himself in garlic and made the sign of the cross and said, ‘No, you cannot write a book about France, Americans do not like France.'” So, he settled on Los Angeles.
Although his newest volume is set within spitting distance of Hollywood, it does not focus on actors, those glittering faux blue-bloods, but rather the tycoons who built the surrounding environs.
While the square footage of Hombly Hills mansions may put 740 Park to shame, some things remain constant across the coasts. “Trophy real estate is not simply bought and sold simply for the virtue of the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the ceiling height. It’s bought and sold as, what Tom Wolfe would call, a status signifier,” he said.
After concluding with thoughts on his upcoming book about 15CPW, “House of Outrageous Fortune,” Mr. Gross reprised his role as guest of honor, chatting with the real estate aficionados and his ragtag band of muckety-muck supporters.