A penthouse in Manhattan just sold for $90 million, which broke the record set last year when the 22-year-old daughter of a Russian billionaire spent $88 million on a Park Avenue pad that she plans to use during the few weeks a year when she’s in town. (It’s still hard for me to say “Russian billionaire” after years of thinking of Russia as a place full of empty, government-run stores where toilet paper — if there was any — was a luxury item.)
In other big real estate news, someone bought a parking spot in the garage of a Manhattan building for a million dollars. They’re kidding, right? Who’s going to believe that someone who can blow a million dollars on a parking spot has only one car? Even I have two cars, and I’m only, oh, a million dollars shy of having a million dollars. One of my cars is 9 years old; the other is 7.
But I’m not jealous. This guy is obviously one of those people the news media now call “job creators.” If only we would lower his taxes, this guy could afford to buy two million-dollar parking spots and buy another car. That’s how you create jobs. When you and I buy a car, jobs are not created because we’re not rich. But when a rich person buys a car, tons of jobs are created. That’s why we all have to chip in and lower taxes for the wealthy. Why is that so hard to understand?
What kind of car would someone park in a million-dollar parking space? A Ford? A Chevy? No, it’s probably one of those expensive European cars. Maybe a Porsche or a BMW. No, even that won’t cut it. If you’re spending a million dollars on a parking spot, you’re probably driving one of those million-dollar cars like a Maybach or a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. Which would create a lot of manufacturing jobs — in Europe.
Of course, a lot of people think you’d be crazy to own a car in a place like Manhattan. You can walk faster than you can drive there. You need a car in Manhattan like you need a rowboat in the Sahara.
Then again, a lot of people think you’re crazy if you walk in Manhattan. It’s a lose-lose situation. Think of the wear and tear on the vehicle. How many times do you have to hear, “Yo, buddy, it hurt my hand when I opened the cab door and dinged your Masarati. I’d sue you, but I’m in a hurry!” before you stop taking the car out of the garage at all?
Everybody knows parking is expensive in Manhattan. I was there on business last year and parked in one of the many underground garages. It was $5.95 for the first half-hour. Three hours later, I paid the $25 bill (plus $2 tip) and headed for home. As I pulled out of the garage, I saw a sign for another parking garage right across the street. It charged only $5.94 for the first half-hour. Free-market competition like that keeps parking prices low, low, low.
Still, if you lived there, you could park your car at many parking garages in Manhattan for a monthly rate of $500. As outrageous as that may sound to the normal homeowner, it still is a deal compared to spending a million on a single parking spot.
There used to be a show on TV in the late ‘50s called “The Millionaire.” A character named Michael Anthony would show up at someone’s front door and hand the shocked residents a cashier’s check for a million dollars, tax-free, from reclusive gazillionaire John Beresford Tipton. There was one stipulation: They could never say where they got the money.
Back then, a million dollars meant something; it could change your life. You could buy houses and cars for your friends and family. Now it buys you a parking space for a car you will rarely, if ever, use.
Jim Mullen’s newest book, “How to Lose Money in Your Spare Time — At Home,” is available at amazon.com. You can follow him on Pinterest at pinterest.com/jimmullen.