Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles

Unreal Estate Money Ambition and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles Michael Gross is the preeminent chronicler of America s rich and powerful most recently in Park and Rogues Gallery Now he goes west to uncover the very secret history of Los Angeles specificall

  • Title: Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles
  • Author: MichaelGross
  • ISBN: 9780767932653
  • Page: 130
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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, fabulouMichael 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.

    One thought on “Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles”

    1. An impressive amount of research went into this book, and admittedly, I kept reading it. Of course lifestyles of the rich and famous always fascinate--I'm only human--, and as a native Angeleno, the local history and color and names were of particular interest. That being said, I sort of came away with less respect for myself after realizing that I could sit there for hours reading what was basically a bunch of smut about a bunch of smutty people. And that being said, I found myself wishing ther [...]

    2. If you love gossip, real estate and the lives of the rich and famous this book has some great tales! Oh and throw a little history in there. Lesson learned (from Cher) - the best place to keep your money is under your feet!

    3. wow, what a slog! interesting, fascinating even, but L O N G ; went a bit too much into the business & financial aspects of some of the "characters" that inhabit(ed) these homes, so i think some editing or an abridged version would help keep up the pace. definitely great history of the area and how it was developed, i just wish there were some pictures included to help keep all the names & places differentiated; unfortunately it was very hard to keep them distinct in one's mind, turning [...]

    4. This book is delicious. As is always the case with the author you get journalistic reporting mixed with Valley of The Dolls and the result is always pure enjoyment.Michael Gross knows that "fact is stranger than fiction".I look forward to whatever is next.

    5. I really, really wanted to like this. And I never did. The structure was confusing - I had trouble keeping track of the characters, houses, and timeline. More pictures would have been nice. And fundamentally, I just think Gross really misunderstands LA and the west. Huge disappointment.

    6. As a transplanted Los Angeleno and a lover of 19th and 20th century American history who is not beyond a guilty pleasure of celebrity gossip and "lifestyles of the rich and famous" gawking, I enjoyed this book very much. The first 2/3rds of it, about the founding of the communities and the initial property deals that made them what they were and are, made for fascinating reading (especially as I sat in my Century City office with a birds eye view of Sunset Blvd). The latter part of the book got [...]

    7. I don't think I would have enjoyed this book without knowledge of LA geography. A slow read because of trying to keep all of the people involved straight. Second half was my favorite - devoting each chapter to a single couple or person. This book proves, once again, that having money is certainly no single key to a happy life!

    8. Typical for Michael Gross. He relies heavily on secondary sources and published accounts. There is very little insider or first-hand information here. A good story and Gross synthesizes a lot of information. He really wants to expose the rich, but will always be anoutsider.

    9. Had some interesting parts especially since I know or know of several of the people involved but I thought parts of it dragged and went on for too long.

    10. Interesting book about assorted trophy properties in Los Angeles, Malibu, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

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