The address 432 Park Avenue sounds ordinary enough, notwithstanding that we’re talking about Park Avenue in Manhattan. But the property in question could scarcely be less ordinary. It’s a fantasy of sorts if you’d be looking for extravagant ways to spend your money (I normally settle for the bar myself) and provided you have a head for heights.
Fortune magazine, not regarded as required reading for the impecunious, headlined one story ‘Meet the house that inequality built’ and referred to it as a “monument to the epic rise of the global super-wealthy”. It also described what is the tallest building in New York (the Empire State Building is 150 feet shorter) and the most sky-reaching residential tower in the world as being “so jaw-droppingly altitudinous that King Kong himself would likely think twice before scaling it”. Indeed. Any structure in a bull market for metropolitan property prices is no place for a gorilla.
The building is 1,396 feet high and has 96 storeys. The price for the penthouse was just below that – $95 million. As you can see, you get a great view from the bathroom, in fact from the bath, although it’s perhaps not a great place to use a loofah if you suffer from vertigo.
The skyscraper was designed by Rafael Vinoly, and reading about this extraordinary emblem of excess reminded me of a different kind of story, the Ayn Rand novel The Fountainhead, published as long ago as 1943. The chief protagonist in that, Howard Roark, is an architect who eschews design convention in pursuit of personal artistic conviction. He’s an idealist. He’s a perfectionist. He’s unplayable. Anyhow, he moves to New York and, after several adventures and confrontational business encounters, he is hired to design a skyscraper that will epitomise the supremacy of man. THE END. (Which might be how some people would define a home that costs $95 million…)
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