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Only in New York

Are doormen part of the 1 percent?

8:42 AM, Jan 31, 2012 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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The front-page headline in yesterday's New York Post blared, "Wheely Rich: Tycoon wills $1M to driver." Not only that, but the late music mogul Alan Meltzer gave $500,000 to his doorman. At least when it comes to the doorman, it shouldn't be a surprise. In Steve Dublanica's book on tipping, Keep the Change, the author gives us an inside look at the doorman racket: "At some high-profile hotels a doorman can clear $80,000 to $100,000 a year. In fact, some front doors in big cities can be so lucrative that when they retire, doormen aren't above selling their positions."

The holidays can be particularly high-yielding, notes Dublanica,

"If you live in a one-bedroom," says Philo, a lanky, white-haired doorman on the Upper East Side, "you should tip [each doorman] between seventy-five and a hundred bucks. If you've got a two-bedroom? Between one hundred and one-fifty."

Now, the units in Philo's building run from $800,000 for a studio to $3,000,000 for a four-bedroom unit. "So, what if you've got a tenant living in some macked-out apartment?" I ask. "What should they tip?"

"Between four and five hundred. Each." Jesus. That's a lot of money.

So the $500,000 Alan Meltzer bequeathed to his Upper East Side doorman Chamil Demiraj was like a really nice bonus. And Demiraj was certainly gracious about it, telling the Post, "I appreciate it. He was a generous guy. He was a really good friend of mine, and I was a good friend of his. It's a surprise. Peace, and rest to him. That's all I can say."

Meltzer's ex-wife, who was apparently not mentioned in the will, was less kind: "He can leave it to whoever he wants to.... I could care less. If he wants to give it to the bums, he can give it to the bums. He could f—k a [I can't even say it], I couldn't give a s—t.... We're divorced. The man is dead."

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