Donald Trump: ‘I Have a Deal’ for Highest-Priced Penthouse; Richard Gere Gets a New Greenwich Village Home

Upper West Side

Brokers and buyers alike scoffed at the $17 million price tag Donald Trump affixed to his penthouse at Trump International Hotel & Towers earlier this year. But now things look a little different: The real estate impresario has a buyer for the unlived-in apartment who would pay about $12.9 million.

In late April, Tom Snyder was negotiating to rent out Mr. Trump’s penthouse, at 1 Central Park West, which has 20-foot-high living-room ceilings and windows framing midtown, as a studio for the Late Late Show ‘s valedictory trip to New York City. (Mr. Trump had also listed the apartment for rent in order to maximize his options.) At the last minute, however, Mr. Trump canceled the deal, saying he hadn’t realized they intended to have so many people in and out of the apartment. Mr. Snyder’s producer characterized Mr. Trump’s handling of the situation as “appallingly cavalier.” Little did they know that the same week, apparently, a buyer made an attractive deal to purchase the apartment.

“I have a deal,” said Mr. Trump. “And I have five backup offers. I wanted to make sure it was the right person who bought it.”

A source close to Mr. Trump said the offer was about $12.9 million for the barren six-bedroom, 5,541-square-foot apartment, which has roof access. Mr. Trump purchased the apartment on Oct. 30 of last year for the my-name’s-in-chrome-letters-out-front price of $5.091 million.

Greenwich Village

RICHARD GERE GETS HISTORIC HOME. Actor, Buddhist and Tibet-glamorizer Richard Gere is moving out of his penthouse on West 10th Street to an almost 5,000-square-foot house on Sullivan Street that’s part of the Macdougal-Sullivan Gardens historic district. One broker said the price was supposed to be around $2 million. The 22-foot-wide, Federal-style town house is five stories tall and had been owned by the Kellogg family. It was sold to Mr. Gere by an estate, apparently directly, since none of the brokerages contacted by The Observer had any record of the house being on the market. Brokers were well aware, however, that Mr. Gere and his girlfriend, Law & Order ‘s Carey Lowell, have been trying to move to something bigger than his two-bedroom penthouse, which one broker described as decorated in “American folk meets Japanese.” The penthouse has been on the market for $3 million for some time. Mr. Gere’s new home overlooks the Macdougal-Sullivan Gardens–common greenery preserved inside one city block bound by Sullivan, West Houston, Macdougal and Bleecker streets. The gardens are for the exclusive use of the owners of the town houses that abut it: Francesco Clemente and Anna Wintour, for instance. (Ms. Wintour bought her house for $1.4 million in 1994.) Mr. Gere is expected to renovate his new home thoroughly. He didn’t return calls by press time.

Upper East Side

45 East 80th Street

Three-bed, 3.5-bath, 2,500-square-foot postwar condo.

Asking: $1.55 million. Selling: $1.6 million.

Charges: $1,950. Taxes: $1,200.

Time on the market: one week.

WITH FAME, YOU WANT PRIVACY EVEN FROM THE FAMOUS. There were like 300 pairs of shoes in the master bedroom closet,” said broker Silvana Mander, wondering how quickly the new owner of this apartment figured out whose place he was inheriting. “I promised [him] that I wouldn’t tell who he was,” she said of the multiplatinum R&B crooner who was selling the place. But the buyer had his own secrets to keep: He’s a well-known artist who likes his privacy. He hit upon this duplex apartment in a resolutely postmodern building covered in Italian granite and Indiana limestone that went up in 1987 on the corner of Madison Avenue. (There’s a store on the ground floor.) He fell for its feeling of spaciousness, if not for the view: Although the living room has 16-foot ceilings with huge windows, it’s on a low enough floor that the neighbors could spy you making one of those hamburger-and-doughnut sandwiches that the R&B star is reputed to enjoy. In any case, seller and buyer were exposed at the closing, after which the singer packed up his shoes and moved to a huge mansion in Connecticut. Broker: William B. May Company (Silvana Mander); Douglas Elliman.

171 East 84th Street (Evans Tower)

One-bed, one-bath, 875-square-foot postwar condo.

Asking: $335,000. Selling: $330,000

Charges: $551. Taxes: $410.

Time on the market: not available.

WAITING TO EXCAVATE THE NEIGHBOR’S PLACE. After that pesky Los Angeles earthquake five years ago, a couple fled to the geological safe harbor of New York City, where they weren’t going to take any chances. “They wanted to live on a low floor,” said Marysue Bailey, the broker who sold them their first apartment in Evans Tower, which has been rooted solidly in Manhattan’s metamorphic rock since 1986. After a few years, they decided they wanted to expand beyond their two-bedroom, 1,250-square-foot place, and Ms. Bailey got in touch with the owners of the apartment next door to see if they’d sell. That was more than a year ago. The ex-Californians didn’t make their move when the apartment was between tenants, and then later regretted it. They needed the space for a home office and guest bedroom, since neither one of them was from the area, and there are rarely vacancies on the couch. After being snubbed once, the absentee next-door neighbor didn’t show much interest when they brought up an acquisition recently. No other configuration of apartments in the building was going to work out as well. Finally, they shook the owner, he changed his mind and they bought it, tenants included. The lease expires in six months. Broker: Prudential/M.L.B. Kaye International Realty (Marysue Bailey).

304 East 65th Street (Rio)

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,100-square-foot postwar condo.

Asking: $575,000. Selling: $570,000.

Charges: $816. Taxes: $724.

Time on the market: two months.

BROKER 1: ACCEPT $25,000 LESS THAN YOU’RE ASKING; ‘A CONDO’S A CONDO.’ Though the Rio is a 1987 “sliver” condo, it does have a peaceful fountain and garden by the entrance that somehow tries to bring a kind of Zen calm to the whole endeavor. Broker Marilyn Fleming disagreed with her client when he turned down the first couple of offers for his apartment that were in his general ball park. He bought this unit–which has a view of the skyline to the south and an eastward look at the river and the 59th Street Bridge–new shortly after the building opened. He has homes in London and New Delhi, and would lean on the railings of this place’s rounded balconies when he was in town. Recently, he let friends move in and put it on the market for $575,000 “firm,” he told Ms. Fleming. “I had two offers at $550,000, and he refused,” she said. Finally, he went for a bid of $570,000 from a woman who was sold on the view. The broker’s analysis: “The rooms aren’t symmetrical, and that makes this one a little bit more dramatic.” Broker: Bellmarc Realty (Marilyn Fleming).

Upper West Side

253 West 73rd Street (Level Club)

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,100-square-foot prewar condo.

Asking: $510,000. Selling: $494,845.

Charges: $816. Taxes: $724.

Time on the market: six months.

BROKER 2: TAKE 1,400 SQUARE FEET ‘WHEREVER YOU CAN FIND IT.’ Yes, brokers read the New York Times real estate classifieds, too. And apparently, even a little more closely than some prospective buyers. The couple who eventually bought this unit was fixated on the Level Club, that intriguingly spangled former Masonic Temple located just west of the Ansonia. “I’d taken them to see all these places,” said broker Delia Stewart, who’d been showing them around for a few weeks without much luck. They said they wanted to buy a 1,400-square-foot home. “And they kept saying, ‘I don’t know why you haven’t taken us to that gorgeous building.'” But what was available at the Level Club wasn’t nearly the size they wanted. “Nowadays, you find property wherever you can find it,” said the broker, who found this unit after scouring the Times Web site. It was for sale by owner. “I called and it took me three days to get an appointment,” she said. Finally, they got in, and the buyers fell for the duplex penthouse right away, even if it was smaller than they thought they wanted (ironically, the sellers were motivated to leave because with kids this apartment had gotten too tight). The broker’s analysis: “You can’t second-guess people in this business.” Broker: Bellmarc Realty (Delia Stewart).

Murray Hill

113 East 35th Street

3,780-square-foot prewar town house.

Asking: $1.250 million. Selling: $1.075 million.

Time on the market: four months.

WHERE ANTIQUITY ISN’T QUITE SO OVERPRICED. The blocks between Park and Lexington avenues in Murray Hill have never had the high-gloss veneer of uptown, or the shabby-genteel literary-artsiness of Gramercy Park. But they have something else: historic brownstones, and you don’t have to be Madonna to afford them. This 12 1/2-foot-wide house had been divided in half, with a duplex unit on the garden and parlor levels and another apartment occupying the top three floors. The seller had quartered his tie design business in the lower two floors and had rented out the triplex. He’d also owned the building next door, No. 115, which he sold six months before this one. The buyers plan to install themselves in the triplex of the 1890’s house, renovate it and rent the lower duplex out. Now they can walk to midtown or just linger on their roof deck in peace, amid historic town houses. Broker: Massey Knakal Realty Services Inc. (John Ciraulo).

Chelsea

420 West 23rd Street

One-bed, one-bath, 700-square-foot postwar condo.

Asking: $285,000. Selling: $275,000.

Charges: $532. Taxes: $320.

Time on the market: one month.

BEACH-BUDDY BROKERING. There’s still a whole lot of optimism running amok in this city. This sublessee had his apartment sold out from under him, and he still played hard to get when it was his turn to apartment-shop. This gentleman wasn’t ready to buy the unit he’d been renting, but he was “in the market” for a place of his own. “He said, ‘Keep me in mind for any condos that come up,'” said broker Gil Neary. This apartment, which is on the top floor of a boxy brick 1980’s building across West 23rd Street from the massive, tower-capped London Terrace complex, was put up for sale by an acquaintance of Mr. Neary at about the same time as the sublessee lost his home. The sublessee, also a friend of the broker, was the first to see the apartment, thanks to Mr. Neary, but he dithered. “He was holding out for a great deal,” said the broker. There was a bigger, fancier penthouse that he had a line on, or at least thought he did. Meanwhile, offers were self-destructing over at 420 West 23rd Street, and Mr. Neary would call the ditherer up and say, “Come on, man, if you want this apartment, you gotta let me know.” The sellers wanted him to buy it because they knew him from the town where they all had summer cottages. (Mr. Neary resorts there, too.) Finally, his alternative penthouse dreams dashed, the gentleman finally made an offer for this place. “At the closing, we were all like, see you at the beach!” said Mr. Neary. Broker: D.G. Neary Realty (Gil Neary)