Unreal Estate by Michael Gross
Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles

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Synopsis

Michael Gross is the preeminent chronicler of America’s rich and powerful, most recently in 740 Park and Rogues’ Gallery.Now, he goes west to uncover the very secret history of Los Angeles, specifically those wealthiest and most private of enclaves— Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, and Beverly Park—through their most mind-boggling estates, and the fascinating, fabulous folks who created and populate them. 
            Gross begins his epic tale with the sordid mob-driven history of the newest mega-mansion district in L.A., Beverly Park, (home to among others Magic Johnson, Barry Bonds, Rod Stewart, Mark Wahlberg, Reba McIntyre, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Samuel L. Jackson, Sly Stallone, Richard Zanuck, and relatives of an Indonesian dictator and Saudi Arabia’s king). He then flashes back to the creation of this fabled district, built on dusty lima bean fields and carved out of the rugged impassible mountains between the city and the sea. Using the century-long evolution from adobe huts to $100 million mansions as the baseline of the story, he reveals how a few powerful and often ruthless oil and railroad magnates imposed their idyllic vision of the good life on the Los Angeles landscape to create the legendary communities known as the Platinum Triangle.
            Gross goes on to give vivid, riveting accounts of the most lavish of the many lavish houses that started springing up almost immediately (with only a brief slowdown during the Depression). But the stories of these homes are just a window onto the lives of their owners and occupants over the course of the twentieth century, and onto the bigger story of a people and a storied region that have become, in Gross’s words, “the Mecca of self-invention.”
            As one might imagine, there is a truly glittering cast of characters. Apart from the many Hollywood stars who have passed through these houses—Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Harold Lloyd, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, George Hamilton, Tony Curtis, Cher, to name just a few—you will meet decadent Spanish land-grant families, desperado oilmen and railroad titans, the country’s first all-powerful corporate legends, con men and pyramid schemers, porn magnates, and Arab potentates, not to mention contemporary tabloid luminaries from the worlds of business and entertainment. Taken altogether, their stories read like a cross between Valley of the Dolls, Hollywood Babylon, and Gross’s own 740 Park—with a little of the film Chinatown thrown in too. 
            Los Angeles provides Michael Gross with his broadest canvas yet; Unreal Estate will surprise, fascinate, and most of all entertain you with a story you don’t know about a place you think you do. 
 

About Michael Gross

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Michael Gross is the best-selling author of 740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building, Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Lust, Lies, Greed and Betrayals That Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women and other books. A Contributing Editor of Travel + Leisure he has also written for major publications around the world, including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, New York, Esquire and GQ. He lives in New York City.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published November 1, 2011 by Broadway Books. 560 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Unreal Estate

Kirkus Reviews

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Location, location, location.

Oct 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Unreal Estate: Money, Ambitio...

The New York Times

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Enlarge This Image Lindsay McCrum Michael Gross Mr. Gross has already written books about the ugly side of modeling, the bogus side of Ralph Lauren’s patrician affectations, the “lust, lies, greed and betrayals” (that’s his official subtitle) behind the “Ro...

Nov 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Unreal Estate: Money, Ambitio...

Publishers Weekly

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Gross (Rogues’ Gallery) offers a cultural history of wealth in his study of the moguls and mafiosi who developed Bel Air, Beverly Hills, and other ritzy neighborhoods of Los Angeles—with a special focus on the houses they built.

Sep 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Unreal Estate: Money, Ambitio...

Los Angeles Times

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A book on L.A.'s 'Platinum Triangle' peers into the homes (and lives) of celebrities and the fabulously wealthy, such as Edward Doheny and Conrad Hilton.

Dec 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Unreal Estate: Money, Ambitio...

Los Angeles Review of Books

(Though "coffee table" is perhaps an unfair label: Hyland's text is just as worthy as its images and - tipping the scales as it does at more than 12 pounds and measuring about 12 by 16 inches - could itself constitute a small table.) In Unreal Estate, Gross pays tribute to Hyland's notable achiev...

Feb 21 2012 | Read Full Review of Unreal Estate: Money, Ambitio...

Canadian Business

Anybody who’s seen Chinatown can guess at the sordid history of the real estate deals that helped transform Los Angeles from a dusty burgh to a global capital of glamour, and for Gross—who sold truckloads of his previous book, 740 Park, a history of New York’s richest apartment building and its r...

Nov 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Unreal Estate: Money, Ambitio...

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