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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

READ THIS: Unreal Estate by Michael Gross Sponsored by Cosmopolitan Dental

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BREAKING NEWS-THIS IS RELEASED TODAY!  When God looks over America, there is one shining diamond of the country that she sees, and that is Manhattan. But from what she tells us, after she looks past the middle of the country, there is one fabulous triangle on the West Coast that is platinum and Mover and Shaker Michael Gross brings us there today. Of course, the “prime mover” behind the Platinum Triangle was from New York: Henry Edward Huntington.

You know Gross for his fabulous account of 740 Park, and now you will also know him for Unreal Estate which is a truly original history of a place that is not known for being historical as impermanence permeates the culture, which makes his work all the more impressive.  He must have felt like a bit of an archaeologist unearthing all of these details, both ghastly and triumphant.  Gross expertly draws out stories that you would not have heard otherwise and terrifically regales his allegiant audience with pearls up to here with the most scandalous gossip paired with the most ambitious American dreams of California.  Oooh we just loved it.

If you think this is just another book on Real Estate, think again because it is an exquisite social history that is unprecedented, and that is based on all that Michael could find going back. Can you even imagine the color if this area had the internet going back a century!? This book has everything including mentions of our favorite Hedda Hopper starting on page 161 for all of the Chris Meighers out there. (If that went over your head check out the right column of Whom You Know featuring a photo of two pretty cool people.) And if you are asking who Hedda is, all you really need to know is that Tony Curtis wrote her a six-page letter at age 14 asking her how to become a movie star…though we never met her of course, she sounds like she is all-knowing.

If you are a good Catholic girl like Peachy, you know the sign of the cross. The sign of the cross for Unreal Estate is Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills and Beverly Park (where nothing predates 1986). And by the way did you know LA was named by Father Juan Crespi with a much longer name which you can find on page 40, ultimately named after the Italian town that St. Francis of Assissi was born. The photographs of the real estate as well as the personalities combined with the helpful map in the front and back cover will help you navigate the sixteen estates of La-La land highlighted by Gross, who dines at Swifty’s which certainly adds to his social expertise. However, the East Coast gentry contrasts with that of the West Coast Society with a Capital S in that on the West Coast; he says it is more self-invented today by tech billionaires, rock musicians, financial manipulators and pyramid scheme operators. So we hope he found a good place to eat and meet them all there…and by the stories he acquired it seems as if he did.

Top Ten Reasons Why You Want to Read Unreal Estate

You will find out how many speakers you need to shake the gold leaf off the living room ceiling!

You will think your own house is such a good deal in contrast!

Don’t you want to find out why Cher might have pursued a career in interior design?

You’ll see that Paris Hilton really is carrying on family tradition in many ways!

Doesn’t everyone want a pink palace?

You’ll see at one stage Beverly Hills even had a mile-and-a-quarter speedway!

We know you want to roll with the Rat Pack!

You will learn just as much from the self-destruction as you do from the achievement!

It will warm you up this winter with its California sunshine! 

Because we said so!

Sixteen great estates combined with an awful lot of work and a tremendous effort into researching it all make Unreal Estate something to really be proud of and also make it a work you will not be able to put down.   And did you know the birthday of Beverly Hills is exactly one day before Peachy (disregarding year of course!) As we curl up in our Park Avenue sables for the winter here in Manhattan to read by the fireplace, we cannot think of anything hotter than Unreal Estate by Michael Gross to read. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “The rich are different than you and me." And Hemingway answered: "They have more money.” And now you have more Michael to put on your reading pile with 740 and Models. Whom You Know Highly Recommends Unreal Estate.


With his bestselling books Model and 740 Park, author Michael Gross has established himself as the preeminent chronicler of America’s rich and powerful. While his previous works have peeled back the façades of fashion and New York’s old society scene, in UNREAL ESTATE: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles (Broadway Books; November 1, 2011), Gross turns a provocative eye on the West Coast and serves up an all-new way of seeing a place we think we know, but really don’t.

In UNREAL ESTATE, Gross traces the little-known history of Los Angeles through its most luxurious real estate. Focusing on sixteen homes in the best and most exclusive neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, and Beverly Park, he takes us behind the gates and past the multi-million dollar security systems to expose the world’s richest enclave and the fascinating folks who live there. After an opening that mixes mobsters, movie stars, and some of the world’s richest homeowners, Gross flashes back to the creation of this fabled district, imposed upon dusty fields and rugged impassible mountains by oil and railroad pioneers, and takes us through a century’s growth to La-La Land’s present-day mega-mansions that have come to symbolize the ultimate in trophy real estate. Along the way, we learn the hidden, sometimes sordid, always fascinating history of an incredible cast of characters from founding fathers such as Alphonzo Edward Bell, Burton Green, and Edward L. Doheny and their families, to stars like Douglas Fairbanks, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Kenny Rogers, Cher, Tony Curtis, and Sylvester Stallone; entertainment moguls such as Suge Knight, Ted Field, and Marvin Davis; historic business titans including Howard Hughes, Conrad Hilton, and David Murdock; and contemporary luminaries of tabloids and business pages like former First Friend Ron Burkle, Gary Winnick (who took hundreds of millions out of Global Crossing just before its collapse), “liar loan” pioneer Roland Arnall, and Lynda and Stewart Resnick, whose philanthropy is balanced by their litigiousness.

Gross paints compelling portraits of these homeowners perched at the pinnacle of society in Southern California, telling the stories of their lives through the homes in which they’ve lived, all the while illuminating the even bigger story of a people and a city that represents, as Gross calls it, “the mecca of self-invention.” With a potent combination of detailed reporting and wildly entertaining prose, UNREAL ESTATE gets up close and personal with LA society, exposing the hidden depths of a place many think shallow.

About the Author

Michael Gross, a provocative journalist and New York Times bestselling author with a formidable backlist, is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure and frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. He’s worked for the New York Times, New York, GQ, and Esquire, and has written for Vanity Fair, Gawker, George, Town & Country, Architectural Digest, and dozens more newspapers and magazines around the world., the national real-estate blog, calls him our “foremost chronicler of the upper crust.”



By Michael Gross

Broadway Books

November 1, 2011 * Pages: 560

Price: $30.00 * ISBN: 978-0-7679-3265-3

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