5 more strange facts about the GM Building

Vicky Ward’s new book, “The Liar’s Ball” continues to bring the scandal

From left: Vicky Ward, "Liar’s Ball" cover, Donald Trump and the GM Building
From left: Vicky Ward, "Liar’s Ball" cover, Donald Trump and the GM Building

The scandalous revelations from Vanity Fair reporter Vicky Ward’s new book, “The Liar’s Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World’s Toughest Tycoons” just keep on coming. Here are five eye-catching facts about the GM Building via the Economist.

1. The building’s developer Cecilia Benattar – known as the “housewife tycoon” — was so wrapped up in high-stakes deal-making in the building that it took her six months to name her first child. At the time, Benattar was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the North American wing of the vast British holding company London Merchant Securities PLC.

2. Master of self-promotion Donald Trump was the first to push rents over the magic $100 per square foot figure in the building. Recently, Donald Trump – as he is wont to do – trumpeted his take on the book [https://therealdeal.com/blog/2014/10/17/trump-blasts-book-about-gm-building-deal/]. No surprises, Trump didn’t like it, calling it “poorly written & very boring.”

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3. The late founder and CEO of Starrett City Associates, which owns Starrett City in Brooklyn, Disque Deane literally “broke bottles over heads” while making high pressure deals at the building. Deane, who the Economist calls “a uniquely unpleasant financier,” was unhappily married three times. He took his second wife Marjorie Angele Schlesinger, then Chairman and Publisher of the Tobe Report, to Bermuda to obtain a divorce – the best way to avoid having to pay her a fair share of his wealth.

4. Harry Macklowe got his hands on the block-sized building in 2003, paying a record $1.4 billion, only to lose it five years later – he had used it as collateral for the ill-advised purchase of seven other buildings. But Macklowe’s reflection on his extraordinary loss is remarkably zen: “Business turns. Business always turns,” he says.

5. Today, the skyscraper is owned by Boston Properties and Chinese and Brazilian interests. Moreover, it is estimated to be worth more than twice what Macklowe paid for it a decade ago. [The Economist] Christopher Cameron