820 FIFTH AVENUE IS STUCK ON Johnson & Johnson Heir’s $27 MILLION OFFER
After telling fashion designer Valentino Garavani the fit just wasn’t right, the finicky co-op board at 820 Fifth Avenue has pre-approved a new owner for Nancy Richardson’s $16 million fifth-floor apartment-and the apartment on the fourth floor, for that matter. According to real estate sources, the buyer is Elizabeth Johnson, of the Johnson & Johnson Johnsons, who goes by “Libbet” and had been apartment-shopping for several years. She will pay $27 million for the two apartments. Ms. Richardson’s lawyer, Raoul Felder, didn’t return calls. Ms. Johnson could not be reached for comment.
Ms. Johnson currently lives in a duplex at the River House on East 52nd Street, which was on the market for $12 million in 1996 but was taken off at the beginning of last year. Soon, she’ll have one of the biggest apartments in the city. Not having sold her current apartment didn’t deter her. “Any woman who can pay $27 million for an apartment in that building,” which reportedly requires that a potential buyer prove worth at least 20 times the purchase value, “isn’t going to be inhibited by the fact she hasn’t sold her $12 million shack,” said one broker.
The 7,000-square-foot apartment on the fourth floor is being sold by an estate. According to a witness, “It hadn’t really been touched by the woman who had inherited it from her mother,” who was the apartment’s original owner (the building was built in 1916). Ms. Richardson’s apartment (a divorce trophy from financier Frank Richardson) is exactly the same size. Both sellers were represented by MacRae Parker at Brown Harris Stevens. The buyer got something of a discount, since the fourth floor had been for sale for $13.5 million. Each apartment has five bedrooms and carries a maintenance fee of about $12,500 a month.
Even the couple of million dollars slashed off the price didn’t justify the move to some real estate observers. “Someone paid $27 million to not clear the trees?” asked one incredulous broker who insisted that in the summer, only the master bedroom on the fifth floor has a consistent view over the park. “Plus they’ll have to put in $3 million to renovate.” And according to a source familiar with the building, a recent board meeting tightened up the summer-only work requirement to the point where you “can’t even pick up a paintbrush” while the neighbors are home.
For all the building’s swell attributes-its private driveway and mini-parking lot out back, its snub of Ronald Perelman, the fact that its lights will never go out because it has its own generator-”these are not grand apartments,” said one broker, who described them as “great family apartments,” but added, “Of course, grand is a relative thing.”
Indeed. The building’s airtight tenant roster includes gallery owner William Acquavella (who bought the 11th floor in 1993 for $9.8 million), Warner Brothers chief executive Terry Semel (he paid $12.25 million for the seventh floor in 1996) and socialite Jayne Wrightsman.
If and when Ms. Johnson’s duplex at River House, numbers 18 and 19C, goes back on the market, bear in mind that it is 6,900 square feet and has seven bedrooms, wood-burning fireplaces in the living and dining rooms, and two terraces.
As for Ms. Richardson, she’s been spotted examining lofts downtown and is said to be putting her place out in Sag Harbor, known as Napier House, on the market, asking $1.3 million. According to Hamptons real estate sources, the house was once owned by President Chester A. Arthur (before spending some time as a funeral parlor) and was the most expensive home ever in Sag Harbor when Ms. Richardson paid $1.025 million for it a year ago, even though she’s never lived there. If you’re interested, a local broker said it’s “the only house in town with a proper widow’s walk.”
After the much publicized search for a new owner for Ms. Richardson’s apartment, the co-op is said to be “very happy” to have the Band-Aid heiress, no questions asked.
610 Park Avenue
Four-bed, five-bath, 4,041-square-foot prewar condo.
Asking: $6.78 million. Selling: $6.78 million.
Charges: $3,075. Taxes: $4,683.
Time on the market: four weeks.
IF HE CAN’T LIVE THERE, TRUMP CAN AT LEAST SELL ON PARK AVENUE There goes Donald Trump again, promising he’s been getting an “overall average” sales price of $1,100 per square foot. This time, the promise came from his sales manager Louise Sunshine, whose current project is the Mayfair House, best known as the former address of Le Cirque when it was a reasonable place to dine. More surprising than the sales price is that anything Trump could be described this way: “a discreet sanctuary for the privileged … in stately good taste without demanding the attention of the public.” The 70 apartments being developed by Mr. Trump and Colony Capital do their best to mimic prewar layouts and details-herringbone-patterned wood floors, coffered ceilings and solid wood doors “accented with polished brass hardware.” This unit, 15A, is one of the building’s largest apartments, on the Park Avenue end of the building. It has a library, den, formal dining room, granite eat-in kitchen, sitting room off the master bedroom, maid’s room and two wood-burning fireplaces. What else is Mr. Trump willing to offer? Well, he’s not shy about throwing around the name of chef Daniel Boulud, who will return to the former Le Cirque space, where he was once a chef, and open Restaurant Daniel. You would think Mr. Boulud plans to deliver breakfast every morning: “610 Park Avenue is the only residential condominium in New York to offer the services of a four-star chef,” read the promotional materials, which go on to indicate that the restaurant might be available for catering. So who’s biting? “We’ve had buyers from pretty much every major building on Fifth and Park,” said Ms. Sunshine, mentioning 740 and 720 Park Avenue as two of the city’s most exclusive co-op buildings that are being vacated for 610, a condo. This apartment was purchased as a secondary home by a man who splits his time between Europe and New York. He took advantage of the high prices that nearby co-ops are fetching, and sold his. Broker: Sunshine Group Ltd.