Did Bear Stearns collapse in part because of a whisper campaign? How will Starbucks keep its customers if everyone starts pinching pennies? And what did Sarah Jessica Parker think of Maxim naming her the "unsexiest woman alive"? Our weekly roundup of law, media, and business news.
• JPMorgan Chase will probably move its investment-banking unit to Bear Stearns' smokin'-hot headquarters on Madison Avenue. The building is valued at $1.2 billion, which is just one-fourth of quadruple the price JPMorgan paid for the firm itself. [NYP]
• JPMorgan Chase's valuation of Bear Stearns shows that financial institutions are significantly overvalued. Speaking of which, many employees had their life savings wiped out. [NYP, WSJ]
• Meanwhile Goldman Sachs' earnings are down but beat analysts' expectations. [DealBook/NYT]
We're no closer to knowing when the toxin-clouded former Deutsche Bank building will come down from its corner at the World Trade Center site, but we have fresh reason to look forward to the JPMorgan Chase tower that's supposed to replace it. Someone close to the process tells us that the ponderous bulge on the lower floors of the design (labeled a "beer belly" by some critics) has vanished from the plans. Early renderings indicated that the projection would hold the bank's trading floor, but it was received negatively by preservationists. The building still must negotiate a tangle of parking, security, and public spaces while offering wide, high trading floors, says our source. "Amenity floors and cafeterias and conference centers add up to different sizes," the insider explained. So some creative structuring beyond the standard straight tower model may still be required. But we have it on good authority that the architecture will be more sloping than slouching. That is, of course, if the state clears the site up before JPMorgan gets tired of waiting and starts considering other locations —Alec Appelbaum
Death may have knocked Brooke Astor down, but it certainly didn't keep her out of the fight. In the inheritance battle between her son, Anthony Marshall, and her legal guardians, Astor's mental capacity has been called into question once again. Now Annette de la Renta and JPMorgan Chase, who took charge of her affairs in the year before her death, allege that she was unfit to change her will as early as age 98. Marshall, who stands to gain millions based on codicils signed after that, disputes this. He points out that she was older than 100 when doctors ordered her to "cut down on late night dancing and parties." (And here we thought being 100 was all about pooping and People's Court.) Marshall also claims that De la Renta bought the support of Astor's staffers when she wrested guardianship away from him and fired one long-term housekeeper who wouldn't turn against Marshall. It looks like all parties are settled in for a long fight, which should be fun, as Marshall himself is 83 and De la Renta is 75. Being rich and old: not so easy as we thought!
Lawyer: Astor may have been incompetent before will was written [Newsday]
Brooke Astor friend fired caretaker who opposed her – son [NYDN]
• As expected, Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan might come to a halt at Shelly Silver's Assembly desk. Silver's steering committee called the idea "unpassable" yesterday. [NYP]
• A federal judge has just reversed his own ban on NYPD's videotaping of protesters. He had previously ruled that the taping must have a "law enforcement purpose" other than political monitoring, which made all kinds of sense to us. [amNY]
• JPMorgan Chase will move 6,000 New York City employees downtown, to a new tower on the current Deutsche Bank site. The old we're-going-to-Connecticut threat worked: The city is showering the company with perks and tax breaks to make the move. [NYDN]
• The Times continues its bizarre pattern of subtly torpedoing Barack Obama with nonstories about his acquaintances, this time tying the candidate to a possibly unsavory businessman even as it admits "there is no sign that Mr. Obama … did anything improper." [NYT]
• And police commish Ray Kelly wants $40 million worth of radiation sensors installed around the city, on highways, bridges, tunnels, and so on. Just, you know, in case. [Newsday]
• MSNBC and CBS are taking Don Imus off the air for two weeks, prompting the Post headline "Don Ho" (you have to think about that one for a minute). Seems calling Al Sharpton "you people" didn't help things. [NYP]
•It has begun: Downtown's Community Board 1 is absolutely outraged by JPMorgan Chase's plans to build a skyscraper cantilevering over a nearby park. Joining the pile-on are the unions miffed by Chase's demand for fat relocation incentives. [MetroNY]
• Ex–New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey is suing his estranged wife Dina Matos, ostensibly not to stop her from promoting a tell-all but to make her stop dragging their 5-year-old daughter to the readings. He also accuses Matos of, yup, homophobia. [NYP]
• East Hamptonites are divided in the wake of an over-the-top immigration raid. Armed agents in bulletproof vests pushed through the doors, SWAT style, in search for the homeowner's estranged husband. [NYT]
• And will a Brooklyn Law student be booted after appearing in a Playboy TV video nude and playing with judge's gavels? Probably not, but come bar-exam time, the Committee on Character and Fitness will have some research to do. [NYDN]
The New Yorker confuses Robert Frost and David Frost (whoops!), much to the amusement of both "Page Six" and the Gatecrasher. Porn star Jenna Jameson has lost a lot of weight and has started acting unprofessionally since her divorce. Real-estate developer Harry Macklowe gets preferential treatment at all Icon parking garages in Manhattan. Ben Widdicombe got an earful from Pauly Shore. The Russian Tea Room uses out-of-context quotes to give the impression that it has been well reviewed. Tom Wolfe will give a speech in Miami about art and architecture. A number of J.P. Morgan bankers are expected to attend Dana Vachon's book party tomorrow night, despite the treatment the firm (or, rather, the fictitious firm based on Morgan) gets in the book.