Saturday, January 31, 2015
The Liar's Ball
The General Motors Building in New York City at 767 Fifth Avenue hosts some of the most expensive rents not just in Manhattan but in the United States. Upwards of $100 per square foot and more.
One of the few buildings in New York to occupy an entire city block, the iconic structure has stood since 1968 on real estate well known to city residents for more than a century.
THE LIAR'S BALL by author Vicky Ward tells the story of the GM Building and especially all those real estate developers and property owners who have coveted this gem and the land underneath it for decades.
This book reads like a Who's Who of real estate. Harry Macklowe, Sam Zell, Mort Zuckerman, Donald Trump, and many others who attempted to buy the GM Building with some failing miserably while others succeeded.
Currently the building is valued at around $3.4 billion. This much money brings out the best (and worst) in people.
Too many real estate books are wonky and read like an IRS opinion letter, too many facts and figures which make eyes glaze over and sound like BLAH BLAH BLAH. Others focus on the great wealth and excesses (financial and otherwise) of the billionaires who spend money on $10,000 shower curtains and $300 cups of coffee, making these books feel like the real estate version of the National Enquirer.
This work is a perfect mix of both. Lots of numbers to appeal to real estate investors but also filled with a cast of characters which cannot be believed.
I highly recommend THE LIAR'S BALL. It's a short book, about 160 pages, but one you just cannot put down, especially if you know the GM Building and can imagine what it would feel like to own this world class gem.
The following is a radio interview with Vicky Ward discussing her book and a television interview with Ward discussing why Donald Trump is bashing THE LIAR'S BALL and his mentions in the text. (Trump lost control of the building under strange circumstances.) You can judge for yourself who is more right than wrong.