Apple’s 32-foot Fifth Avenue Apple Store is its most iconic retail outlet– and one which Steve Jobs dearly loved. But did you know that Jobs’ originally wanted to have the building substantially bigger?
A new book entitled The Liar’s Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World’s Toughest Tycoons recounts the story of how real estate guru George Macklowe sold Steve Jobs on the more compact design. After pestering former Apple VP Real Estate George Blankenship for a meeting with Jobs, Macklowe clashed with the late CEO over what size the cube should be.
Macklowe wanted it to be 30-foot and located at the front property line next to the sidewalk. Jobs, on the other hand, insisted that it should be 40-feet tall and set in the middle of the plaza.
To convince Jobs, Macklowe commissioned two full-size replicas to be built on the site for an inspection by Apple.
“Macklowe knew that the only major flaw in Jobs’s concept was the size. Forty feet was too big — not just for zoning restrictions but for the scale of the building. No one would like it — not the city, not the tenants. He also knew that talking about it with Jobs wouldn’t get him anywhere. He’d have to show Apple what he meant. He invited Apple’s retail development executives, Ron Johnson and Robert ‘Rob’ Briger, to the building two weeks after the Cupertino meeting, to view a scaffolding mock‐up of the cube — in the dead of night. (Regulations forbade Macklowe to build during the day.)
Around two in the morning, the group met in front of the GM Building. The 40‐foot cube was unveiled. They all agreed it was too big. It obscured the building. Macklowe was grinning. He then gave the signal, and the model was dismantled — only to reveal a 30‐foot cube he had secretly constructed underneath.
His magic trick worked. Apple was sold on the smaller cube.”
Convinced, the deal with Apple was reportedly completed within just half an hour. Macklowe’s real estate attorney does, however, note that he negotiated a “horrendously low” percentage rent with Apple; never realizing that the store would be making $1 million per day within its first year of operation.
The Liar’s Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World’s Toughest Tycoons can be picked up for sale here.