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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 10 Paradise, Briefly

Was I the author of that cube? No, that belongs to Steve Jobs.

—Harry Macklowe

Harry Macklowe knew that the key to really transforming the GM Building lay with Apple.

Macklowe pestered George Blankenship, Apple's vice president of real estate, until he was invited to a meeting with Steve Jobs in November 2003.

Dan Shannon accompanied Macklowe to Cupertino, California. Also at the meeting were the architects Peter Q. Bohlin and Karl Backus from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the designers of the Apple Store in New York City's Soho district. Macklowe recalled hitting it off immediately with Jobs. “He's wearing this black turtleneck, he's wearing black jeans . . . it was terrific. The Apple team started talking about a flagship store that would be groundbreaking in almost every aspect. It would be open 24/7.”

What happened next has long been the subject of speculation and some dispute: who came up the idea of placing a 30-foot square glass cube—the world's “smallest skyscraper”—in the middle of the GM Building plaza? In that lightbulb moment, an unused basement that had caused headaches for its owners for more than 40 years morphed into what is arguably the most famous retail space in the world.

The answer, according to four people in the room—Harry Macklowe, Karl Backus, Peter Bohlin, and Dan Shannon—is that the cube was the brainchild of the late Steve Jobs. “The point of the meeting,” Shannon recalled, “was that Steve wanted to show Harry what his vision ...

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