Forget all the charts that document the falling wages for those at the lower rungs of the income ladder and flat wages for those a bit higher up. Don’t pay any attention to the negative net worth for those at the bottom and the paltry net worth for those slightly better off. The NYTimes today saw no reason to include such economic reminders in two stories today. Other than the editorial decision to publish those two stories on the same day didn’t offer any words for readers to connect the two.
Since Citigroup’s former chairman, Sandy Weill, sold his penthouse at 15 Central Park West late last year for $88 million, or $13,000 a square foot, to a Russian billionaire, sales prices in Manhattan have been flirting with $100 million, and brokers say it’s only a matter of time until the barrier is broken.
Something is certainly leading to record prices for what brokers describe interchangeably as trophy or art properties. An apartment at One57, a tower under construction across from Carnegie Hall, sold for $90 million and another is in contract for a sum said to be over $90 million (though less than the list price of $115 million.) The casino executive Steve Wynn, who is also a prominent art collector, bought a penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South for $70 million in June. A duplex co-op on Park Avenue sold for $52 million in May.
The brokers seem stunned and perplexed by this buying frenzy by the very well heeled. Dare even to suggest that the rich are — well, sort of stupid.
But, he said, “they’re confusing price with art. You’d think that titans of industry would be very individualistic about their acquisitions, but at the very top, there’s a herd mentality. You get one or two very large transactions that grab headlines and then it’s like a light switch goes off. In New York, this happened in the second half of 2010, and since then it’s been very intense. The size of what’s happening is unprecedented. How long can this go on? You see this kind of behavior and you have to wonder.”
As if all that money shoveled up to the wealthy since the financial meltdown was going to sit around getting moldy or be used to create jobs. These people have so much money that they’re also throwing gobs of it at a loser GOP ticket. Calculating that that investment will also payoff.
So, who pays the price for the US national consensus that the rich aren’t rich enough? Too many around the world to name, but the subsistence hard workers mining the natural resources to feed “our way of life” are definitely part of it. Craig Blankenhorn supplies the pictures of those closer to home denied a place to live at all in Young And Homeless.
A society that cannot supply living wage jobs to all and provide affordable housing for everyone before others get multiple mansions and $100 million apartments should bury its head in shame. Then get its act together and fix this shameful situation.