Born to surfer parents in New Zealand—the 1966 film Endless Summer features a scene in which a group of surfers make a pilgrimage to visit his dad—MacPherson spent most of his childhood on the beaches of Malibu, heading off to Guadalajara during the summer months to spend time with his grandmother. (He says he still has a Mexican passport.) He was 24 in 1989 when he made his first splash on the LA scene with the nightspot Small's K.O. A constellation of hip LA eateries and drinkeries followed, including Olive, Swingers, Bar Marmont (which he opened with André Balazs), El Carmen, Good Luck Bar, and Bar Lubitsch.
After establishing himself as the reigning king of the LA scene, MacPherson turned his attention east, joining forces with fellow bar/restaurant entrepreneur Eric Goode in 2001. Together they spent $5 million transforming three taxi garages in Chelsea into the see-and-be-seen restaurant The Park, which helped spark the resurgence on the far west end of Chelsea. In 2003, MacPherson and Goode—along with the hoteliers Richard Born and Ira Drukier—opened the nautically-themed Maritime Hotel in the meatpacking district after investing $33 million to acquire and refurbish the property.
It's been a busy few years for Goode and MacPherson. In late 2006, they teamed up with Graydon Carter to open the Waverly Inn, which quickly became one of the most talked-about restaurants thanks to the Vanity Fair editor's copious social ties. In March 2007, they unveiled their latest collaboration with Born and Drukier: the Bowery Hotel, a 135-room boutique hotel that, in typical fashion, generated plenty of press. (The Taavo Somer-designed Italian restaurant Gemma is located on the Bowery Hotel's ground floor.) They also opened the 15-room Lafayette House Hotel, which they'd originally conceived as a guesthouse for friends. Most recently, the duo transformed the Hotel Riverview on Jane Street in the West Village—which houses Armin Amiri's Cuban boite Socialista—into the budget Jane Hotel.
Over the years, the socially active restaurateur/hotelier has been linked to actresses Gina Gershon, Lara Harris, and Daryl Hannah. (While he dated Hannah from 2004 to 2005, the press reported that she'd booked sessions at a fertility clinic.) MacPherson divides his time between a 1840s townhouse on Jane Street which once served as a kosher butcher shop (and now features a Basquiat in the living room) and a home in LA.