Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer Lose Calvin Klein’s $8.5 Million Penthouse

Upper West Side

NICHOLS AND SAWYER LOSE CENTRAL PARK WEST PENTHOUSE TO ANOTHER BUYER. Despite their stalwart attempts to buy Calvin Klein’s penthouse at 55 Central Park West, Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer have officially lost their $8.5 million deal, according to real estate sources. In late January, the building’s co-op board approved Steve Gottlieb, the 41-year-old owner of TVT Records and a resident of the building for several years, as the buyer of the 4,500-square-foot penthouse for about $8.6 million.

Real estate sources said Mr. Gottlieb’s hefty deal will include the rooftop terrace, whose ownership was a bone of contention between Mr. Nichols and Ms. Sawyer and the co-op board. The board turned the media power couple down twice, even after they upped their offer of $7.5 million by $1 million in order to secure the rights to the terrace. A source close to the deal said that Mr. Gottlieb’s $8.6 million purchase broke down in the same fashion, with $1 million being paid directly to the board in exchange for the terrace.

A source with knowledge of the building’s inner workings said residents were confused by the board’s actions. “They’re not prominent rock-and-roll people,” said the source, of Mr. Nichols and Ms. Sawyer. “They’re conservatively prominent. The kinds of people visiting them will be people the building should be proud of.… Steve is already in the building, so it’s not like [going with Mr. Nichols and Ms. Sawyer] is losing him,” as a resident.

More likely to explain the board’s preference for Mr. Gottlieb, said the source–and several real estate brokers familiar with the sale–is that Mr. Gottlieb was represented by Jeff Lamb, who with his brother, Craig Lamb, owns the company that manages 55 Central Park West, J.&C. Lamb Management Corporation. In 1993, the brothers purchased the management arm of William B. May Company and took it over. The Lambs are still permitted to use the William B. May name, however, and work out of a William B. May office on Park Avenue and 33rd Street. Calvin Klein and Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer were represented by William B. May broker Roger Erickson.

A source familiar with the deal said that Jeff Lamb had circumvented Mr. Erickson by presenting Mr. Klein’s attorney with an $850,000 down payment in late 1998, when the Nichols-Sawyer deal was still alive–and that through their role as the building managers, the Lamb brothers may even have persuaded the co-op board to reject the couple in favor of Mr. Gottlieb.

“If true, it’s shocking,” said Stephen Rabinowitz, the attorney who represented Mr. Nichols and Ms. Sawyer on the deal, “because Calvin’s people all along were apparently aboveboard. That’s surprising to me. It’s the first I’m hearing of it.”

Robert Di Paola, the attorney representing Mr. Klein on the sale, could not be reached by press time.

Mr. Gottlieb would not comment on the sale. Craig Lamb said on the advice of the corporate counsel of 55 Central Park West, he did not wish to comment; Jeff Lamb did not return calls for comment.

12 West 96th Street

Two-bed, 2.5-bath, 1,900-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $725,000. Selling: $635,000.

Charges: $1,116; 40 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: five months.

EKING OUT A LIVING ROOM. Last summer, a young couple with two kids at the Trinity School put this apartment on the market for almost twice what they paid for it in 1994. The mom is a freelance business writer and knew this was the time to trade up from six rooms on 96th Street just off Central Park West to seven rooms on Riverside Drive in the low West 90’s. So in comes another young married couple–with two little ones at the Dalton School. This mom edits a business magazine; the dad is a writer, of fiction. With a little imagination, they’re converting the dining room into another bedroom, and fixing up the eat-in kitchen. The kids can be as loud as they want; the apartment’s on the second floor, and the downstairs tenant is a doctor’s office. Broker: Bellmarc Realty (Hilary Rovins).

130 West 86th Street

Two-bed, 1.5-bath, 980-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $450,000. Selling: $450,000.

Charges: $1,137; 39 percent deductible.

Time on the market: five weeks.

PARLEZ-VOUS PROFITS? You can get a lot of francs with $200,000, and this family is counting theirs right now. After stints at Morgan Stanley and Forbes magazine, the couple who just sold this 14th-floor apartment flew off to France with their two kids and big greedy smiles on their faces. They bought this apartment–with an open kitchen and a Jacuzzi in the bathroom–in 1995 for $250,000. The buyers had been living five blocks away, in a one-bedroom apartment they had purchased and gut-renovated. The price increase bears testament to the increasing confidence in the child-rearing capacity of the Upper West Side: An eighth-floor unit in this building, which also went for around $250,000 several years ago, just sold for $415,000. Broker: Corcoran Group (Judith Greene and Jean Michael).

Upper East Side

171 East 84th Street (Evans Tower)

Two-bed, 1.5-bath, 1,012-square-foot condo.

Asking: $425,000. Selling: $400,000.

Charges: $646. Taxes: $589.

Time on the market: two months.

PAYBACK IN ONLY 115 MONTHS! Occasionally in the current rapid-fire real estate market, there is time to stop and think. A woman who liked the idea of purchasing this 10th-floor apartment and renting it out watched another buyer step up and sign a contract while she was still mulling it over. She had tried subletting successfully in Queens, but never before in Manhattan. Six weeks passed before the woman called broker Marysue Bailey again: Was the unit still available? In fact, the initial buyer’s deal had not panned out, and it was still for sale. The woman purchased the apartment on Jan. 22,and is looking for a tenant to pay $3,500 a month. Broker: Prudential/M.L.B. Kaye International Realty (Marysue Bailey).

Gramercy Park

205 Third Avenue

One-bed, one-bath, 900-square-foot postwar co-op.

Asking: $295,000. Selling: $285,000.

Charges: $873; 63 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one week.

THE FALL OF THE THIRD AVENUE WALL UNIT. Just days before the Russian economy sent the stock market reeling last August, a young couple signed a contract to buy this Gramercy Park area co-op near 18th Street for $326,000. Wall Street was still in a tizzy when an appraiser valued the apartment at around $250,000. The buyers were in a bind: They realized they had offered too much for the apartment, but it had taken them six months to find a place they liked that could accommodate an unwieldy wall unit that they couldn’t bear to part with. “Wherever they went, the tape measure would come out to see if the wall unit would fit,” said broker Viviane El-Yachar. (The wife is in the furniture business.) After a considerable renegotiation–which knocked $41,000 off the original sale price–the couple were reunited with their wall unit on Third Avenue. Broker: Corcoran (Viviane El-Yachar).

SoHo

109 Prince Street

4,000-square-foot loft.

Asking: $1.495 million. Selling: $1.375 million.

Charges: $2,250. Taxes: $1,332.

Time on the market: four weeks.

THEY DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT AN ETCH-A-SKETCH. “A lot of people have this romantic idea about buying a raw space and designing it,” said broker Shaun Osher who sold this apartment near Greene Street to a couple who had been renting a place elsewhere in SoHo. This full-floor loft, which is accessed by a locked elevator, has 15 enormous

windows and a handful of Corinthian columns. A single woman bought it four years ago, then had second thoughts and put it on the market before she’d even hung a curtain. The buyers have lots of ideas for the place, but for now they’ll just construct the basics (one bedroom and a kitchen), fix up the bathroom and move in. The rest they’ll design as they go. Broker: Douglas Elliman (Shaun Osher and Helene Luchnick).