Jim Corliss, the host of the Discovery Channel's "Stunt Junkies," snuck into the building Thursday dressed as an old man, shed his clothes in an observation deck bathroom and made a run for the security fence surrounding the 86th floor deck.
The 30-year-old was slowed by a security guard and then handcuffed to the fence as police responded to the incident.
The New York Daily News reports a friend of Corliss tipped police.
Corliss is a world renowned BASE jumper, which stands for Bridge, Antenna, Span and Earth.
He has taken illegal leaps from New York's Palace Hotel, the Skylon Tower at Niagara Falls and the world's largest building, the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, although that jump was sanctioned by the Malaysian government.
Corliss wore a head camera for the Empire leap, presumably to document the fall for his TV show.
NYPD Deputy Inspector James McCarthy said the jump "showed a depraved indifference for human life."
McCarthy said people during the Thursday afternoon rush hour would have been killed, along with Corliss, if the parachute didn't open.