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The Liar's Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World's Toughest Tycoons by Vicky Ward

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Chapter 1 Stealing the Spotlight

I think that I've been able to lead and have a high enough profile where people say, “Hmmm, how would Harry Macklowe do this? He's my hero.”

—Harry Macklowe

He spotted his chance the night the letters vanished.

They were there, as usual, one dusky summer's evening in Manhattan, but the next morning they were gone. All of them. Their disappearance immediately spurred frantic, gossipy phone calls between the major real estate offices in New York City. Everyone knew the significance, but very few knew what had happened. There was speculative chatter about a “midnight raid,” even a “robbery.”

Bizarrely, some of the garish letters began to show up on office walls around New York, where they still remain. Their proud owners were coy about how they had acquired their trophies. Was Donald J. Trump, the flame-haired, flamboyant developer, furious? No one dared ask him. All they knew was that the letters’ disappearance marked the end of his most cherished dream.

For Harry Macklowe, it was the beginning of a metamorphosis.

■ ■ ■

June 2003. As the sun rose over Manhattan, passers-by, commuters, tourists, and members of the audience assembled for CBS's morning show noticed that something was dramatically different about the 50-story, white marble edifice soaring above midtown known as the General Motors (GM) Building.

In almost every other detail, the legendary and much-coveted trophy building looked as it had for years: the white, minimalistic tower with ...

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