CBS Honcho Mel Karmazin Pays $11.4 Million for Trump Condo

In the Trump International Hotel & Tower’s third most expensive sale to date, CBS president and chief executive Mel Karmazin has plunked down $11.4 million for a 5,500-square-foot penthouse, according to real estate sources. Mr. Karmazin was the victor in what brokers described as a four-way bidding war; he signed a contract on May 27, paying more than $2,000 per square foot.

The 48th-floor penthouse has a great room–which encompasses the living room, dining room and library–a master bedroom suite and four additional bedrooms. Its seller, a corporation based in Canada, paid $6.8 million for the apartment in April 1996. In February, the company put the apartment on the market for $11.3 million.

The most expensive purchase so far in the building, at 1 Central Park West, was that of socialite and Band-Aid heiress Libbett Johnson, who paid $20 million for two separate penthouse apartments last year, according to brokers familiar with the deal. She is renting a unit near Mr. Karmazin’s new home for $60,000 per month while she waits for her renovations–which include duplexing the two stacked apartments–to be completed.

Then there’s the $12.9 million Mr. Trump got for the 52nd-floor penthouse he had put aside for himself, then decided to sell. The apartment sold to an Italian filmmaker for $12.9 million in 1998. It has double-height ceilings and the best views in the building.

According to one broker familiar with both apartments, Mr. Karmazin’s hefty price “makes Donald’s penthouse a steal.”

GREENWICH VILLAGE

STERLING LORD GETS HITCHED TO $1.1 MILLION CO-OP DUPLEX. After 10 years on the Upper East Side and “$10,000 in cabs” traveling to and from work, literary agent Sterling Lord paid $1.1 million in mid-May for a duplex co-op on Morton Street, closer to his Bleecker Street office.

The move coincides with Mr. Lord’s April marriage to Margaret Blackstone, a writer of children’s books and client of Mr. Lord’s agency, Sterling Lord Literistic Inc. The couple started looking at apartments together in the Village after they got engaged. Ms. Blackstone has lived on Perry Street for four years and didn’t want to leave the neighborhood. Mr. Lord, who handles such writers as Ken Kesey, Dick Francis and Gloria Naylor, was interested in walking to work; for the last decade, he has lived in a co-op at 31 East 72nd Street.

Last December, Ms. Blackstone went to see a duplex apartment in an 1858 brownstone on Morton Street with a broker friend, Felicia de Chabris. Although the duplex needed serious renovations, Ms. Blackstone was entranced by what she described as its 40-foot-deep, “old-growth garden,” a collection of rhododendron and azalea plants, with patio space adjacent to the house. The building, between Bedford and Hudson streets, is on one of the most photogenic blocks in the city: Scenes from Quiz Show and The Night We Never Met were filmed there.

But in January, the apartment’s new boiler caused its old pipes to burst, and Ms. Blackstone didn’t dare take her then-fiancé back to see the place. While the floors and pipes were being repaired, Ms. Blackstone continued looking casually at Village property.

“The more they saw, the more this appealed,” said Ms. de Chabris of the duplex on Morton Street, which occupies the bottom two floors of the brownstone. “A [whole] town house seemed too complicated, so two large floors in a wide town house seemed ideal.”

In early February, Mr. Lord finally saw the 2,100-square-foot apartment–which was priced at $1.1 million–after the damaged floors and pipes had been replaced. “The broker took us through,” remembered Mr. Lord, “and when I got out on the sidewalk, I in effect said, ‘That’s the asking. If I meet that, is it mine?'”

Jane Forman, who was selling the place for a couple who’d lived there for 14 years, presented the offer to her clients while the literary couple went around the corner, to the restaurant Anglers and Writers, to have a cup of coffee. Half an hour or so later, their offer was accepted.

“I have never lived in the Village before, but I’m really looking forward to it,” said Mr. Lord, who has had quite a year in real estate: Not only is his East 72nd Street place under contract, he also just sold a summer home in Edgartown in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Since they plan to do renovations, the couple won’t move in yet. “We’re touching it up,” said Mr. Lord. “We are bringing the kitchen up to date, we’re modifying the lighting, we’re putting in central air-conditioning … and replacing the flooring in two of the rooms.” Ms. Blackstone, the one with the green thumb, will be doing the gardening.

UPPER EAST SIDE

115 East 87th Street

One-bed, 1.5-bath, 1,000-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $379,000. Selling: $375,000.

Charges: $872; 49 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three days.

FEMALE FED CATCHES THE KEYS TO THE CO-OP. A financial adviser in her late 20’s is getting hitched to a gentleman from California. This 1,000-square-foot co-op with Central Park reservoir views was her dowry. She put it on the market for $379,000. Since the co-op’s finances are pretty solid and the maintenance is relatively low because it’s on land leased from the city, she figured there would be a lot of interest. She personally reviewed every bidder’s financial history and handed the place down, girlfriend-style, to a single woman with a much more intimidating profile: a high-ranking agent with Federal law enforcement who investigates mail fraud. The unwed woman’s discount: $4,000. Broker: Corcoran Group (Lawrence Schier; Pat Palermo).

FLATIRON DISTRICT

1200 Broadway (Gilsey House)

One-bed, two-bath, 2,200-square-foot prewar loft co-op.

Asking: $650,000. Selling: $600,000.

Charges: $1,289; 55 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: two months.

SALOMON BROTHERS BANKER TAKES $50,000 CUT. In 1997, broker David Disick got a call from a Salomon Brothers Inc. executive in Hong Kong. The banker was moving to the firm’s New York office, and was interested in one of Mr. Disick’s properties, which had been listed on the Internet. Of course, the apartment in question was already sold. So the broker lured the banker over to a one-bedroom co-op with corner views over at 29th Street and Broadway instead. He took it. But after two years, the banker was off again, this time to Florida. The Broadway apartment was back on the market for $650,000 when Mr. Disick showed it to an architect and his wife. Despite the seller’s banking background, the couple were able to drive the price down $50,000. Broker: Corcoran (David Disick; Mary Anne Cotter).

CHELSEA

114 West 17th Street

Two-bed, 2.5-bath, 2,600-square-foot prewar condo.

Asking: $1.675 million. Selling: $1.585 million.

Charges: $625. Taxes: $592.

Time on the market: nine weeks.

EN ROUTE TO L.A., RALPH LAUREN RENOVATOR CLEANS UP. Two years ago, an interior designer bought this 2,600-square-foot condo between Sixth and Seventh avenues for $454,000. He then took it apart–he designed the Polo Ralph Lauren store near 72nd Street, after all. He installed central air conditioning, custom-made cabinetry, luxury hotel-style bathrooms with steam showers and 6-foot-long whirlpool tubs, a kitchen with a wine cooler and digital TV and telephone wiring. When he decided to move to Los Angeles, an artist couple paid him $1.585 million in cash for his fix-me-up. That should at least buy him a compound the size of Aaron Spelling’s. Broker: Douglas Elliman (Ogden Starr); Halstead Property Company (Richard Orenstein).

SOHO

West Broadway near Spring Street

Two-bed, one-bath, 1,750-square-foot prewar loft co-op.

Asking: $549,000. Selling: $540,000.

Charges: $1,449; 60 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: six months.

REGISTERED AT HOME DEPOT. A couple engaged to be married had a mandate for their broker: SoHo for $600,000. They claimed to have all the imagination required for such a bargain. This assertion was put to the test when they visited a loft between Spring and Broome streets, which had been the home of a female wardrobe stylist for 17 years. It hadn’t seen a significant renovation and was crowded with antiques and tchotchkes. Before long, the couple were indeed brainstorming about removing the gray carpeting, redoing the floor, installing a second bathroom–for which the plumbing already existed–and maneuvering a wall to enlarge their master bedroom. It took a little negotiating, but they got the place for $540,000, just under the asking price. They’ve already started channeling all their love into their new nest. Broker: Halstead (Anna Moy; Sandra Sautner).