In 2005, upper-crust chronicler and shit-stirrer Michael Gross wrote a juicy tell-all book about the inhabitants and history of 740 Park Avenue, one of New York City’s most expensive, exclusive, and reclusive co-operative apartment houses. With the dour limestone-faced Rosario Candela-designed building and its cavernous apartments as the back drop, Mister Gross carefully parsed the personal, professional and social lives of many of the building’s wildly wealthy residents who have over the years included any number of low-profile but sick-rich industrialists and robber barons, a cavalcade of heirs and heiresses, and a bunch of hedge hogs and tech tycoons.
Four years later Mister Gross came out with Rogues’ Gallery, a dense, exhaustively researched and not always flattering exposé that unweaves the complex, sometimes secret and often controversial history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Mister Gross leaves no high society stone un-turned when it comes to revealing the actions and ambitions of a small but enormously influential army of filthy rich folks who, through sheer force of will, money, power, and subterfuge, founded and nurtured The Met into one of the brawniest and best art institutions in the world.
There were those, natch, who were nine kinds of livid and atwitter about Mister Gross’ deep and unauthorized examination into the ugly underbelly of The Met. Socialite and philanthropist Annette de la Renta actually threatened legal action because she felt she was portrayed in an unflattering and even defamatory manner. According to a little birdie we’ll call Betty Booklover, in the hostile aftermath of the publication of Rogues’ Gallery Mister Gross told a group of book-minded types at a Beverly Hills Literary Society luncheon that he’d decided to write his next book about Los Angeles because he thought “it would be a good idea to get out of Dodge for a while.”
He spent the next two years researching the histories of several handfuls of palatial properties in the part of Los Angeles known in real estate circles as The Platinum Triangle, a glitzy euphemism for the trio of swank communities that form the meticulously manicured zenith of wealth and power in Los Angeles: Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Holmby Hills.
Using the great and grand estates of The Platinum Triangle as the hyper-luxurious fuel, Mister Gross’ latest and soon to be published book Unreal Estate will–as Your Mama understands from publisher information–tell the untold and sometimes sordid stories about how oilmen and movie stars, charlatans and chatelaines, ruthless entrepreneurs and a handful of pornographers transformed hell-hot southern California orange groves into a glittering, forbidding and secretive enclave of make believe and mega-mansions.
Unreal Estate, with its wonderfully alliterative subtitle “Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles,” won’t be available in bookstores until November 1–the children can pre-order the book at a discounted rate on Amazon and Barnes and Noble–but the publicity push for the hotly anticipated tome has none-the-less begun in earnest.
According to a recently released three and some minute promotion video, a flying tour over The Platinum Triangle narrated by Mister Gross himself, Unreal Estate will cross reference the histories of some of the ritzy enclaves’ greatest estates with the colorful cast of characters who have owned and occupied them. Legendary estates under the microscope include (but are far from limited to): Greenacres, currently owned by supermarket billionaire and Bill Clinton’s former b.f.f. Ron Burkle; The Knoll, once owned by rotund oilman turned billionaire movie man Marvin Davis and now owned by tool and die magnate Eric Smidt; And Owlwood, the regal Robert Farquhar-designed Holmby Hills estate formerly owned by showbiz types like Cher and Engelbert Humperdinck and now owned by Dawn Arnell, the widow of Roland Arnell, a sub-prime lending billionaire who was installed by President George W. Bush as the ambassador to the Netherlands.
As with Mister Gross’ previous books there will undoubtedly be a squawking squadron of rich and powerful people who won’t be happy about their lives or living rooms being exposed in the pages of Unreal Estate. We’d also bet our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly there will not be even one real estate gossip, property professional nor any adult resident of The Platinum Triangle who will not devour this book the moment they can get their bejeweled hands on it.
We know we will.
cover image: Crown Publishing