The Real Deal New York

Editor’s note from the Nov/Dec 2016 issue of Luxury Listings NYC

Noah’s climb to stardom out of a childhood cursed by apartheid highlights the value of open borders and open minds today.
By Stuart Elliott | November 08, 2016 01:00PM

Stuart Elliott

Stuart Elliott

Talk about rags to riches.

Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show,” ate dog bones and mopane worms (“literally the cheapest thing only the poorest of poor people eat”) during a harrowing childhood in apartheid-era South Africa.

Noah, who was classified as a “criminal” just by being born mixed-race (he couldn’t be seen in public with his Swiss father), has overcome incredible odds to get to the top of the entertainment heap in New York. In a story starting on page 12, we sit down with the fresh-faced 32-year-old who seemed to come out of nowhere a little more than a year ago, when he became the surprise pick to replace Jon Stewart as host of the trailblazing show.

These days, Noah wears $695 wool knit sweaters by Ermenegildo Zegna during photo shoots with luxury magazines like LLNYC, interviews U.S. presidents and can look up at his photo on a billboard right outside his building every day. But he doesn’t seem to have lost his sense of where he came from — indeed, he is revisiting his upbringing in his new book, “Born a Crime,” which is by turns serious and funny, like the man himself.

In a way, Noah’s climb to stardom out of a childhood cursed by apartheid speaks to the increased opportunities and lowered barriers that allow more people to make it big today — and to increased globalization, in big cities like New York anyway.

It’s a stark contrast to growing xenophobic attitudes in the U.S. heartland, and the economic distress fueling those stances, something this country obviously needs to address.

Evidence of the world becoming more open can be seen in New York’s high society, too. Take, for example, our look inside 960 Fifth Avenue, one of New York’s most prestigious co-ops, which is part of our “Board Approved” series. The older buyers in the building have WASPy nicknames like “Nonie,” while the newer ones who paid record or near-record prices are bigwigs who hail from Egypt, Iran and Peru. See page 20.

More openness in every part of life is not always a good thing, though, according to legendary gossip columnist Cindy Adams. She says gossip reporting today — in the Gawker (and post-Gawker) era — has grown “too evil” in its level of invasiveness.

Adams, who has been writing her column for the New York Post for 35 years, has a gentle touch, “shrinking Manhattan down to the size of a shtetl” and serving as its “yenta” who gathers all its secrets, as reporter Isabel Schwab writes. We go inside Adams’ home, a treasure trove of New York history, in a story on page 28.

Meanwhile, for a much snarkier take on the 1 percent, check out our review of “Odd Mom Out” creator Jill Kargman’s new book. There is a whole chapter on rich-people accidents, including the rupturing of a breast implant on the Concorde and someone choking on frogs’ legs. See page 52.

If you just want to get away from all this drama, head to Miami and sit on the beach. The only problem there is the threat of hurricanes, the Zika virus and rising sea levels — so maybe there is a little drama. But those things (which are arguably not deal breakers), coupled with a slower real estate market, make it an opportune time to look at buying a second home in Miami, as we detail in a story on page 34. New York buyers always kick themselves later for not buying at the bottom of the real estate market in South Florida, so don’t say we didn’t tell you.

Finally, for true getaways and more mindless fun and luxury goodies — which are what we need after this presidential election — check out our other stories. We’ve got gifts for the holiday season (page 8), the priciest wines (page 24), the cult of the high-end toilet (page 58), the best spas and retreats (page 94) and cool new fashion accessories and jewelry to drool over (page 95). Finally, there is the new super-high-end movie theater in the Financial District where they serve artisanal cocktails and a tasting menu (page 72). Sounds perfect right about now.

Enjoy the issue.