October 19, 2012

During the late 1980s curving glass horrors appeared, and they continue to sprout: dark, impenetrable, cold, undeniable symbols of ugly money and dark dealings. Once upon a time you had 740 Park, with its Candela-designed limestone façade and undeniable scent of old money. Then came Trump Tower—vulgar, yes, but not as ugly as Olympic Tower, next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and ordered by Aristotle Socrates Onassis himself.

They both look like brand buildings compared to the latest horror going up across Carnegie Hall, which is like constructing a strip joint next to Notre Dame. When the “thing” is completed sometime next year it will stand 1,005 feet and be the tallest non-commercial structure in the Bagel. It will be inhabited by white-collar criminals of the billionaire persuasion: mostly Chinese, Russian, Arab, and other such flash. Tradition will be a word punished by immediate expulsion from “One57,” the moniker the horror goes under. The penthouse is on the 90th floor, bought by a vulgar Canadian whose wife I sat next to one evening. When I asked her what language she preferred to converse in, she replied, “Belgian.”

Ninety million big ones is the price quoted for the penthouses, with a Nigerian fatty among the purchasers who wish to remain anonymous. Very few of the buyers will use the place as a permanent residence. We all know what is going on, something once upon a time related to the Chinese favorite mode of labor. A former CEO of Citigroup, Sanford Weill—not exactly an Errol Flynn lookalike—recently sold his Upper West Side apartment to a 22-year-old daughter of a Russian—libel laws prevent me from describing his profession accurately—for 88 million big ones. He purchased the Weill pad and parked his daughter inside while trying to keep his ill-gotten gains from her mother’s eager hands.

When Barbara Hutton and Doris Duke were considered the two richest girls in the world back in the 1930s, they wouldn’t have dreamed of treating themselves with such over-the-top extravagance.

If ever I move to Brooklyn it will be to get away from the scum that Europe, Africa, and China are disgorging on Manhattan’s shores. Joe Bonaparte and Babs, where is that roof of yours now that we need it?



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