Fashion designers clutching little designer dogs flanked Allen Questrom, the chief executive of Barneys New York, who was holding court at Fred’s, the department store’s basement-level restaurant, on the night of Feb. 10.
“I heard you thought I was leaving!” said the 59-year-old dapper gentleman, who took over when Barneys dug itself out of bankruptcy less than a year ago. But it was a change of address-not job-that was the question.
“Oh, my apartment,” he said.
Two days earlier, Mr. Questrom had signed a contract to sell his 43rd-floor apartment at Trump Palace, 200 East 69th Street, for $3.65 million. “He and [Kelli, his wife] will be maintaining their primary residence in Greenwich, Conn.,” said a Barneys source about the sale of the Manhattan apartment, which the couple purchased in 1993 for about $1.6 million.
After a turn on the market early last year, the apartment had not officially gone up for sale again when Bradford Weston, vice president of private client services at Goldman, Sachs & Company, presented Mr. Questrom with a deal he couldn’t refuse. Mr. Weston is currently renting a smaller apartment in the same building and has also signed a contract to purchase a penthouse at the Park Laurel, a condominium under construction at 15 West 63rd Street, for $9.5 million. The Park Laurel will not be completed until next year. Mr. Weston’s deal with Mr. Questrom hasn’t closed yet, but a real estate source expects Mr. Weston to move in by the end of the month. Carrie Chiang of the Corcoran Group, who lives in Trump Palace, was Mr. Questrom’s broker.
The 2,351-square-foot apartment features three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a formal dining room, a living room, a kitchen, and three small balconies. It was built in 1990; the monthly maintenance is $2,070, and the real estate taxes are $2,256.
“There are little touches here and there and everywhere in typical Kelli style that made it what it is,” said the real estate source about Ms. Questrom’s designing of the wall paneling, sound system and lighting. “No expense was spared. This was done in expensive and beautiful taste.”
Mr. Weston did not return a phone call. “He’s a very private person,” said someone at his office.
DIXON BOARDMAN GOES PIED-À-TERRE SURFING, WAITING FOR THE WESTBURY D. Dixon Boardman has joined the ranks of the homeless millionaires pied-à-terre surfing around Manhattan. The managing general partner of Optima Fund Management paid $2.95 million last December for a 2,300-square-foot apartment at the old Westbury Hotel at 15 East 69th Street that still doesn’t exist. But that same month, he sold his apartment at 19 East 72nd Street. In the interim, Mr. Boardman is subletting an apartment at 923 Fifth Avenue, near 73rd Street, until he can get the keys to his new apartment. That isn’t expected to be before April.
Last spring, Mr. Boardman went directly to the man turning the old hotel into condos, his friend Peter Armstrong, to try to buy an apartment at the Westbury. “They were moving pretty quickly,” said Mr. Armstrong about the apartments. But he kept an eye out for Mr. Boardman and alerted him when another deal fell through.
“[Peter] called me in London in June and I said, ‘I’ll take it,’” said Mr. Boardman. “I signed on the dotted line about the next day.”
In the past, the Westbury has served as Mr. Boardman’s temporary home. “I stayed there when I was moving apartments at one stage,” he told The Observer . “I liked the feel of the building. I always loved the entrance.”
The 238-room hotel, which runs between 69th and 70th streets on Madison Avenue, was bought by Chelsfield U.S.A., a subsidiary of the London-based real estate company Chelsfield P.L.C., in March 1997 for approximately $80 million. They announced that they would convert it into 47 luxury condominiums, and in February 1998, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approved Chelsfield’s proposal to restore the 1927 building’s brick and limestone neo-Renaissance-style facade and decorative balconies. “It’s a historical renovation of all of the building to take it back to how it looked in 1927,” said Mr. Armstrong.
Though work is not completed, about 10 of the apartments have been occupied by their new owners since mid-November. Residents enjoy hotel-like services including a restaurant, maid, linen, baby-sitting and dog-walking services, hairdressing and beauty in-house appointments, a catering kitchen, personal trainers and a gym. Mr. Boardman plans to use the climate-controlled basement wine cellar with 48 individual storage bins holding up to 76 bottles.
“We’re providing hotel-type service to new owners, which is the way things are going in New York; hotels and condos are coming together,” said Anthony Pike, the Westbury’s concierge of 18 years, who will continue at the condominium. Mr. Boardman described Mr. Pike as “superb” and cited him as a major selling point.
“Mr. Boardman was a fairly frequent guest,” said Mr. Pike. “But I don’t give away the little secrets. Discretion is very important to me and my clients.”
Mr. Boardman’s 2,300-square-foot apartment has two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a library, a dining room, an eat-in kitchen and a large-size living room, but no balcony or fireplace. The real estate taxes have not yet been assessed.
Happily, Mr. Boardman will have friends in the building, like Terry Allen Kramer, the Broadway producer of the musical Saturday Night Fever and daughter of the late Wall Street mogul Charlie Allen. Ms. Kramer bought the hotel’s penthouse in December for $11 million.
UPPER EAST SIDE
CATS DON’T LIKE TO SWIM, SO WHY DOES WILDENSTEIN? For now, Jocelyne Wildenstein has stopped sculpting her cheekbones and started renovating her new $7.2 million town house. On Jan. 28, the feline divorcée took ownership of the 9,000-square-foot, four-story, Federal-style town house with marble and limestone trim, which she signed a contract to purchase last May. Since then, she has been consulting with architect and interior designer Joe Eisner, owner of Eisner Design. Mr. Eisner told The Observer that the plans include opening up the first floor of the house to make way for a pool and patio.
The proposed 35-foot-long, 20-foot-wide, 9-foot-deep pool will have steam showers and changing rooms, said Mr. Eisner. But “it’s more of an entertaining spa facility than for real exercise area,” he said. “They’ll be areas to lounge in the semiartificial tropical environment. There’s going to be a dining table out on a paved area and a waterfall feature.” Skylights and wall panels will allow in light and air.
Her broker, Robert A. Haberman from Douglas Elliman, said the little water world will have an African theme, “like her [former] ranch in Kenya. It’s going to look like a safari kind of atmosphere with stuffed animals here and there, and rocks.”
At one point, Ms. Wildenstein had wanted to incorporate an aquarium, but that idea was nixed. “It’s usually the architect and the designer fighting with the client to do more than the ordinary,” said Mr. Eisner.
1230 Park Avenue
Four-bed, four-bath, 2,315-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $1.21 million. Selling: $1.1 million.
Charges: $2,600; 44 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: six weeks.
THE PEOPLE DOWNSTAIRS, PART I Barbara Heller, a broker with DeMarzo Realty, was selling Apartment 12C. Della Leathers, of Douglas Elliman, had 12B. Together, they lured a couple in their 30′s down from 15C. The couple, who have two kids, didn’t really want to move from the building, between 95th and 96th streets. But how long can a family survive in just 1,100 square feet? They’re not going to sell 15C until 12C and 12B are combined, but the co-op board already passed the proposed extensive renovation. The couple signed the contracts and closed the deal in early January. The building allows 70 percent financing, but insists that a buyer put down 30 percent in cash. This couple put down even more to secure the space.
55 East 75th Street
Five-story, five-bed, seven-bath town house.
Asking: $11 million. Selling: $8.1 million.
Time on the market: 1 1/2 years.
HAVE THE OSWALDO CISNEROS HOUSE AND A SMILE The Venezuelan tycoon Oswaldo Cisneros and his philanthropist wife Ella Cisneros just sold their Georgian red brick and limestone town house between Madison and Park avenues. They bought the town house in 1986 for $2.3 million as their primary Manhattan residence. They also have several other residences around the world. “Their two daughters got married, so they decided to condense their life style,” said their broker, A. Laurance Kaiser IV, president of Key-Ventures Inc. Mr. Cisneros ran one of the Pepsi-Cola Company’s largest and oldest bottling operations for five decades, until selling out to rival Coca-Cola in August 1996. His family’s Caracas-based business, the Cisneros Group, controls more than 50 companies in Latin America, the United States, and Europe, with revenues estimated at $3.5 billion. In 1989, he founded the Together Foundation Personnel, a private organization that assists non-profit organizations with their technology and communications needs. The foundation was housed in the top floor of the town house, and is currently renting a temporary office until the Cisneroses find a new residence. “We’ve basically found it,” said Mr. Kaiser of their search. Leslie J. Garfield of Leslie J. Garfield & Company brought a “Wall-Street-investor-type” couple to see the Cisneros house on Jan. 31. He had shown them about 10 properties, and they narrowed their choices down to four before closing on this town house that was rebuilt in the 1930′s and significantly renovated by Ms. Cisneros. The 20-foot-wide by 100-foot-deep house features a large Jacuzzi room, a third floor devoted only to the master bedroom and a sitting room, library, terrace, central air conditioning and wood-burning fireplaces. “They’ll probably move in a couple of days after the closing,” said Mr. Garfield. “The house is in very good shape.”
UPPER WEST SIDE
One Central Park West
Three-bed, 4 1/2-bath, 3,059-square-foot condo.
Asking: $4.5 million. Selling: $4.318 million.
Charges: $2,035. Taxes: $2,100
Time on market: six months.
THE PEOPLE DOWNSTAIRS, PART II The couple that sold this apartment in the Trump International Hotel and Tower loved the building so much that they just moved to a bigger unit on a higher floor. Said their broker, Sheila Lokitz of Douglas Elliman, “It’s almost the same spot in the building, facing the same direction.” They had been looking for about five months before they settled on an apartment eight stories above where they’ve lived for one and a half years. In April, after some minor renovations are completed, they’ll move into the new place. The sale was final on Feb. 8. It features a master bedroom, with a sitting area and his and her bathrooms.
114 West 27th Street
Two bed, two-bath co-op.
Asking: $649,000. Selling: $649,000.
Common charges: $1,241; 62 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two weeks.
HOME IS WHERE THE BIGGEST KITCHEN IS A bidding war erupted after the second open house of this apartment in a converted 12-story loft building. But the happy couple who had been renting an apartment in the East Village closed on the deal and passed the co-op board in early February. “Everyone wanted it done really fast,” said the exclusive broker, Anna Moy of the Halstead Property Group. The sellers moved to a house in Brooklyn because they wanted outdoor space and more room. This apartment’s strong point is its large open kitchen with extra storage and an open breakfast bar. There’s also a 5-by-45-foot storage space that could be turned into an office or pantry.