A few months ago, there was a fire at one of New York’s most famous and sought-after addresses, 740 Park Ave. The building has been an aspirational address for decades. But the recent fire in Ezra Merkin’s unused sauna has caused a great deal of consternation—and not just among the buildings very, very rich residents.
Michael Gross, who has written a book on the Co-op, summarizes the problems at the building in the New York Post:
On April 6, 2016, 740’s worst day began when a household staffer switched on Ezra Merkin’s sauna, where clothes and books were stored, starting a fire. Residents of apartments on the corner of Park and 71st were deluged with water from hoses below — affecting real-estate big Andrew Stone and the Kochs — and smoke from the fire above (the Tisches and designer Vera Wang). Smoke also traveled laterally, stinking up the homes of the Ganeks, Italian construction heiress Giovanna Bongiasca and banker Thomas Strauss and his wife Bonnie.
“People had to scramble,” one finance-pro tenant says. David Koch’s wife, Julia, shoved paintings into Hefty bags and fled to the street to watch the FDNY fight the fire. […]
Remarkably, the fire did not destroy any of the valuable art in the building. As the wealthy have grown more attached to art as a status symbol, buildings like 740 Park have become concentrations of value. Years ago, Merkin had to sell the Rothko’s he bought to help satisfy claims stemming from the Madoff fraud.
Luckily, the damage in the building did not seem to touch the art. Since then, there’s been a string of small (at least for this group) jewelry robberies in the building that Gross spoke to one woman who lives there:
”But she credited the thieves with smarts for ignoring the museum-quality art on many 740 walls. “It’s too obvious if you take something big.”
Inside the scandals of 740 Park, the world’s richest building (New York Post)