Join getAbstract to access the summary!


Join getAbstract to access the summary!


A Tale of Obsession, Betrayal, and the Battle for an American Icon


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Empire: A tale of greed, family conflict and, of course, The Donald.

auto-generated audio
auto-generated audio

Editorial Rating



  • Overview
  • Engaging


Pulitzer Prize-nominated Wall Street Journal journalist Mitchell Pacelle has written an absorbing tale that rivals any novel of business melodrama. If there’s anyone left out there who thinks that real estate deals are dry, number-crunching exercises in dullness, this behind-the-scenes look at the extreme personalities vying for control of the Empire State Building will set that myth aside once and for all. recommends this expertly written page-turner to all readers.


The Players

The Empire State Building, the most famous skyscraper in the world, was the prize in a frenzied, decade-long contest for control during the 1990s. This battle for ownership turned into a business soap opera as a new guard rose to challenge the fading leaders of the era of old-world real estate tycoons.

The players in this absurd drama were:

  • Hideki Yokoi – a reviled Japanese billionaire who gathered storybook buildings as if they were trophies. His obsessive desire to own the Empire State Building would end up destroying his own family.
  • Kiiko Nakahara – Yokoi’s daughter, and her husband, Jean-Paul Renoir, whose own quest for the building would lead them on a ruinous legal odyssey on two continents.
  • Harry and Leona Helmsley – the building’s link to a fading era of Manhattan real-estate kingpins. Their iron grip on the building would become the target of attack from many quarters.
  • Donald Trump – the flamboyant real estate tycoon, who would maneuver to gain a slim stake in the skyscraper and then play it for all it was worth.

On August 11, 1997, a frail 84-year-old Hideki Yokoi quietly...

About the Author

Mitchell Pacelle is an award-winning journalist who has covered business for The Wall Street Journal, has won the New York Press Club’s 1999 Business Reporting award and was part of the team nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the collapse of the Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund.

Comment on this summary

  • Avatar
  • Avatar
    G. R. 9 years ago
    Renoir name spelled incorrectly in sixth paragraph of section titled The Deal
    • Avatar
      9 years ago
      Excellent catch Mr Rawlins thank you. We really appreciate the feedback and the opportunity to correct the spelling mistake.

More on this topic

Learners who read this summary also read

Related Channels