It is where Peter Parker goes to work when he's not being Spiderman; it features in the opening credits of the David Letterman show; it is, in essence, as Manhattan as a building can get. But New Yorkers are now preparing to say arrivederci to their treasured triangular landmark, for the Flatiron is about to fall into Italian hands. Valter Mainetti, an Italian property magnate, has revealed to Time magazine that his company, the Sorgente Group, has taken a majority stake in the signature building, which lies at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway and is worth an estimated $180m (£92m).
The Flatiron was one of the tallest buildings in New York when it was built in 1903 by the Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. Urban legend has it that the triangular shape created unusual eddies in the wind, which would cause women's skirts to blow up as they walked by, attracting hordes of ogling young men. Offices in the apex of the 22-storey building are still reported to be the most sought-after.
The latest change of hands may not be quite as big a bombshell as the Japanese takeover of the Rockefeller Centre in 1989, but it is proof of how the weak US dollar is attracting property moguls to New York. "With the cheap dollar, it made sense," Mr Mainetti explained. "The stability of the New York real estate market is unique. This current crisis will pass, and the dollar will re-establish itself. We are confident."
Investors from Abu Dhabi are also circling another New York landmark, the Chrysler Building.