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Empire: A Tale of Obsession, Betrayal, and the Battle for an American Icon
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0471403946, Hardcover)Each day over 4,000 people take the elevator up to the observatory of the Empire State Building to catch a minute of glory. What almost none of them have known--until now--is just how many people have fought to own outright the crown jewel beneath them, and the chaos that these trophy hunters have caused. "Over the years," writes Wall Street Journal reporter Mitchell Pacelle, "the Empire State Building had exerted an almost magnetic pull over a certain kind of man, the kind who once had nothing and now had everything." The construction of the Empire State Building was a $50 million roll of the dice by a failed political candidate, who took on the impossible task of filling 80 floors with paying tenants in the midst of the Depression just to win the race for skyline supremacy. Thirty years later, the Prudential Company gutted the building's profit potential by leasing it to real estate magnates Larry Wien and Harry Helmsley for 114 years. Their heirs, Peter Milkin and Leona Helmsley, would end up locked in a bitter embrace. Then, in 1991, Prudential decided to sell the tower, and the building entered its most bizarre period as a group of eccentric billionaires fought to control it.
Pacelle masterfully tells the story of Hideki Yokoi, a Japanese businessman with a shady past who became obsessed with the American icon during an $80 million shopping spree. Rebuffed in his pursuit by Prudential, he finally landed the building with the help of his illegitimate daughter, a front man, shell companies, and a fair number of lies--but not for long. Convinced that his daughter had stolen the building from him, he initiated a bizarre family feud that landed two people in jail. Add Donald Trump to the mix (and a plan to upscale the building with luxury condos, classy restaurants, and a hotel) and an epic legal war began between Trump and his nemesis Leona Helmsley, holder of the precious lease. Full of mind-boggling twists and betrayals, Pacelle's book is a priceless cautionary tale about ego, greed, and vengeance, and the inevitable bust that follows every bubble. --Lesley Reed
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:27 -0400)
It is the most famous skyscraper in the world--a towering edifice whose silhouette defines New York's skyline. Each year, millions of visitors from all over the world flock to its upper reaches to take in its dramatic views. Yet few are aware of the triumphs and tragedies that have played out in its storied corridors. Ever since it was erected during the Great Depression, the Empire State Building has been coveted by ambitious, self-made men who have gone to great lengths to call it their own. It has carried some of them to prominence, others to the precipice of financial ruin. For a few, the building has exacted an even higher toll--costing them friends, family, and even their freedom.
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