Fifteen Central Park West — the massive, limestone-covered ultra-luxury apartment building on the edge of Columbus Circle — has become an icon on the skyline of Manhattan’s West Side and a star of city gossip and real-estate columns.
The building has been in existence for less than a decade, but its roster of current and former residents is a who’s who of titans from the worlds of finance, real estate, retail, and entertainment, from Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein to Yankees star Alex Rodriguez.
In a new book, “House of Outrageous Fortune,” Michael Gross goes behind the scenes to tell the complete story of Fifteen, as it’s affectionately known. From the building’s inception in the minds of developers Arthur and William Lie Zeckendorf to the battle over its unusual facade to the sparring among its strong-headed tenants, Gross makes the case that the building is deserving of its description as the world’s most powerful address.
Anyone fascinated by the history of luxury real estate in New York City — or the lives of the city’s richest and most powerful people — should find the time to read Gross’ book. We pulled out some of the most outrageous facts, figures, and records set by 15CPW.
1. Five developers were invited to bid on the lot at West 61st Street and Central Park West. The Zeckendorfs won the property with a bid of $401,050,000 — more than twice the going rate for land in Manhattan at the time.
2. The building broke records even before construction could start. A final holdout tenant from the hotel that previously occupied the land was eventually paid about$17 millionto vacate, according to a source. It’s likely the highest price ever paid to relocate a tenant in New York.
3. The developers spent an incredible sum on the property, anticipating sky-high returns. All told, “they’d paid about $US690 per buildable square foot for the land, they spent about $US750 per square foot on their 886,000-square-foot two-tower behemoth,” Gross writes.
4. The lowest price for a unit at 15CPW in the initial 2005 offering was $US1.78 million, far above the $US1.479 million average price for a Manhattan condo at the time. Thepriciest condo was initially listed for $US41.25 million(it would later resell for far more).
5. Servants’ quarters were initially listed for between $US650,000 and $US1.74 million, and storage units for $US35,000. The building’s 30 wine cellars ranged from $US50,000 to $US80,000.
6. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was among the first people to buy an apartment at 15CPW. His duplex was priced at $US29 million, but he paid just $US25.73 million, a significant discount, according to Gross. Eight other former and present “Goldman bigwigs” were among the building’s first purchasers, and musician Sting later took the apartment next door to Blankfein’s.
7. Hedge-fund tycoon Daniel Loeb set an early record at Fifteen, “dropping $US45 million for his penthouse in what was then a hole in the ground,” Gross writes. He famously outbid investor Carl Icahn for the then nonexistent pad.
8.15CPW has also been nicknamed “hedgie hive,” with residents representing some 36 hedge funds. Gross estimates that the aggregate assets managed by hedge funds and boutique investment firms whose executives own or rent at 15CPW amounts to $US437 billion.
9. Shortly after stepping down as CEO of Citi, Sandy Weill spent $US43.69 million on the biggest apartment at Fifteen. According to a source, he surprised his wife with the penthouse on Valentine’s Day.
10.Actor Denzel Washington’s purchase of a $US13 million apartment coincided with a major milestone for the developers–passing the billion-dollar mark in sales. They held a “Billion Dollar Bash” to celebrate, Gross writes.
11. Spanx founder Sara Blakely claimed to be so terrified of heights living in her 37th-floor apartment that she and her husband, Marquis Jet’s founder Jesse Itzler, hired a former Navy SEAL to suggest emergency escape plans. Another SEAL later moved in with them to give them cardio workouts, according to Gross.
12.Russian potash tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev made headlineswhen he bought the Weills’ penthouse for $US88 million in 2011, ostensibly for his 22-year-old daughter. But it wasn’t his first offer at Fifteen:Rybolovlev offered $US75 million for another penthouse in 2008, but the owner got cold feet and decided not to sell.
13. Speaking of Rybolovlev’s record-setting penthouse: According to Gross, aside from a few short stays at the end of 2012, Ekaterina Rybolovleva never used the apartment, preferring to spend time in Monaco.
14.In 2009, 54 people were on Fifteen’s payroll, including seven concierges and eight white-gloved lobby attendants.
15. Employees of 15CPW can make bank during “tip season.” In 2011, a typical staffer made $US22,500 during the holidays, and one employee told Gross he thought the building’s resident manager made $US600,000 before tips.
“House of Outrageous Fortune” is available for purchase here.
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