Avedon Gets $9 Million From East End Couple For His Montauk Spread

BUYERS SAY THEY NEED TO ESCAPE THE DRONE OF SAG HARBOR IN AUGUST Jerry Seinfeld passed on it because the beach was too rocky. But a couple from about a half-hour down the road signed a deal in early April to buy photographer Richard Avedon’s 7.5-acre mini-compound for almost $9 million.

If you could call Montauk an escape from Sag Harbor, you might understand this purchase. The buyers–a philanthropist and an architect–live with their three children on a six-acre waterfront home in North Haven, about a half-hour’s drive from Montauk. They will consider Mr. Avedon’s property, which they first saw about four months ago, a retreat from the tortuous Hamptons season set to open in just a few short months.

“They want to get away from all the activity when it gets really intense in August,” said a source.

The property, on the south side of the Old Montauk Highway, is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and a nature preserve. There’s a main house and a guest house–with six bedrooms and seven-and-a-half baths between them–a stable, a small studio, gardens, an orchard, a pool and a garage. “The most impressive part is that it’s on cliffs above the ocean,” said a source.

Said another source, “It’s desolate.”

Mr. Avedon moved in about 20 years ago, threw a bunch of parties–including his son John’s wedding to Maura Moynihan, the daughter of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1990–and brought out his picture-snapping students for field trips. He also let a film crew in for a portion of Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light , a documentary. In 1998, he put the place on the market for $10 million.

Last summer, Tina Fredericks, who runs a real estate brokerage in East Hampton, brought comedian Jerry Seinfeld by to look at the cluster of buildings. Mr. Seinfeld didn’t make an offer, but another one of Ms. Fredericks’ clients, who wanted the place for $6.5 million, was rebuffed by Mr. Avedon. Since then Ms. Fredericks has brought six other clients to see the property. She said $9 million was a “very fair price.”

Brokers at Allan M. Schneider Associates Inc., the exclusive firm handling the property, didn’t return calls, and Mr. Avedon and his lawyer, Bob Wise, would not comment on the deal.

THE HEIRESS AND THE HECKLER: FORD’S OUT, McENROE’S IN Six years ago, Manhattan lost Elena Ford to Detroit when she went to write ad copy about her great-grandfather’s assembly line. Now she’s saying goodbye to the Hamptons, too. On March 13, the 34-year-old–who is now the director of e-marketing for the Ford Motor Company–sold her oceanfront mansion at 11 Squabble Lane in South Hampton for $5.495 million.

Ms. Ford, the daughter of Charlotte Ford and the late shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, took the Ford name at 13. She has a $200 million stake in the family corporation. And in June 1996, she married for the second time to plumber Joe Rippolone; they live near the Dearborn, Mich., headquarters. Ms. Ford could not be reached for comment on her sale.

Maybe Ms. Ford’s mother, Charlotte Ford, who owns a home just down the street, warned her that John McEnroe had bought the place next door about six months ago. Sources say Mr. McEnroe paid $4.2 million for Werther House, a two-acre affair with eight bedrooms, eight baths and, of course, a tennis court, at 9 Squabble Lane.

Or maybe not. “I sought it out,” said Andrea Ackerman, a partner at Dunemere Associates Real Estate. Ms. Ackerman was acting on behalf of a couple from Fifth Avenue who had unloaded their landlocked East Hampton home for $4.2 million and were in the market for something on the water. Ms. Ford’s 11,000-square-foot stucco house, designed by architect Preston Phillips in 1991, has seven bedrooms, 14 1/2 bathrooms, fireplaces in the master bedroom and living room, and a pool out near the 230 feet of oceanfront.

Ms. Ackerman’s buyers first looked at the house in January. The deal closed on March 16. They have some minor renovations–soundproofing?–and decorating to do before settling in this summer.

UPPER EAST SIDE

MUSICAL CO-OPS: 740 PARK GREEN-LIGHTS SCHWARZMAN, FIFTH AVENUE PONDERS KOSLOWZKI, RALES Even though the co-founder of Blackstone Group L.P., Steven Scharzman, was a Yale undergrad with the president of the board of 740 Park Avenue, investor Charles Stevenson, there was no avoiding a formal meeting regarding Mr. Schwarzman’s purchase of the building’s triplex penthouse for $37 million from former Reliance Group Holdings Inc. chairman Saul Steinberg.

According to a source, when Mr. Stevenson and Mr. Schwarzman spoke about the April 4 meeting, Mr. Stevenson said, “Excuse me for having to do this formality, but I need to meet with you.” Mr. Schwarzman’s purchase was approved on the same day.

In fact, 740 Park has green-lighted all potential purchasers of late, including Thomas Tisch, the youngest son of the former chief executive of CBS Corporation, Laurence Tisch, whose family’s holdings include the Loews hotel chain. Thomas Tisch bought the eighth- and ninth-floor duplex for about $15 million in early February. And last month, Steven and Christine Rales sold their 14th-floor apartment for just under $16 million without ever moving in, and without a hitch from the board. The purchaser was hedge fund manager Israel Englander.

Apparently, the Raleses, a Washington couple, decided that they preferred a pied-à-terre on Fifth Avenue to one on Park Avenue (“One liked 740 and the other didn’t,” one source said of the Rales). The couple can expect the same speedy resolution Mr. Schwarzman received when they meet with the co-op board at 820 Fifth Avenue over their agreement with socialite Nancy Richardson to purchase her fifth-floor apartment for about $17 million.

“They have probably been pre-screened to the degree where it would not be moving forward unless a positive outcome was expected,” said a source.

“I can’t confirm anything,” said Brucie Boalt of Sotheby’s International Realty, Ms. Richardson’s broker.

Ms. Richardson’s 18-room, 6,500-square-foot, fifth-floor apartment has been unattainable by everyone, from Valentino Garavani to Steve Wynn and Libbett Johnson. It carries a monthly maintenance of $13,452–about $3,000 more than the Raleses’ maintenance at 740 Park.

Before the end of April, Mr. Schwarzman will be sitting on the other side of the board interview–as a member of the board at 950 Fifth Avenue–when Dennis Kozlowski, president of Tyco International Ltd., is evaluated as the new owner of the apartment Mr. Kozlowski is leaving. If things get any cozier, co-op boards might get a bad name.

UPPER WEST SIDE

150 Columbus Avenue

Three-bed, 3.5-bath, 2,050-square-foot condo.

Asking: $1.89 million. Selling: $1.8 million.

Charges: $1,062. Taxes: $500.

Time on the market: seven weeks.

TWO GUYS WITH A BUNCH OF PLACES TO BLOW THEIR MONEY “If it were just him, he would have lived in SoHo or TriBeCa,” said Gayle Morgan, a broker with Douglas Elliman. But this divorced dad, who was abandoning a rental in the West 50′s, decided to stay in the neighborhood because it’s close to his 10-year-old son’s school. “In the end, he decided it would be so inconvenient for play dates,” said Ms. Morgan. Dad, who is in the real estate business himself, will have to settle for this three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath apartment near Lincoln Center, an area quickly becoming a little Times Square. The old man likes the 24-hour doorman, the concierge, the Reebok Health Club, the Barnes & Noble. The kid likes the Sony multiplex and the Tower Records right across the street. “He’s got his own room,” said Ms. Morgan. “He’s painting it blue.”

MIDTOWN

15 West 53rd Street (Museum Tower)

One-bed, 2.5-bath, 2,000-square-foot condo.

Asking: $1.25 million. Selling: $1.15 million.

Charges: $1,400. Taxes: $1,200.

Time on the market: two months.

POOR LITTLE DOT-COM BOY These dot-commers simply won’t stay put. First, they leave nice sunny northern California and set up shop in Silicon Alley–buying lofts for their offices and homes, and decorating with computerized gadgets and lots of chrome. Now they’re creeping uptown. Example A: the Internet startup with a flashy car who had to take out a loan to pay the deposit on this apartment. He’s a songwriter who has started an Internet company where Web browsers can download movies onto their computer screens–a real Renaissance man. “He’s a young man, very successful, but he has no cash right now,” said his broker, Sachiko Goodman, managing director of Sumitomo Realty. He’s waiting to be paid royalties for songs he wrote and to cash in his stock options. Even though he’s “worth” millions, and Blockbuster video is a major investor in his Internet company, “he has no cash right now for the down payment,” said Ms. Goodman. “We had to make arrangements for him to get a down payment loan from a small institution–he has to pay a huge interest.” At least the condo has a large entertaining area–with a bar. There’s also a library and a formal dining room. “I was shocked–he has nice things … fancy cars … this and that–but not much cash in his pocket,” Ms. Goodman told The Observer . The poor little dot-commer act is getting a little old with Ms. Goodman–she had to wait on another client’s Internet I.P.O. to get his deposit on a new Chelsea loft. Kids today!

414 East 52nd Street (Southgate)

One-bed, one-bath, 850-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $310,000. Selling $307,000.

Charges: $1,272; 61 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one month.

SPARKLY AND SHINY AND EVERYTHING NICE “He wanted [the apartment] to sparkle at night,” said Kathy Roeder of Caldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy realty about her TV-biz client, who never comes home in the daylight. “With the mirrors and track lighting, it did,” she said. Also shiny: the black marble bathroom and hallway, and whitewashed living room floors, which the night owl found “sleek.” The buyer had lived in a different apartment in this four-building complex before he moved out of Manhattan, and he wanted back in. He also liked the wood-burning fireplace and brushed-steel kitchen. The seller, who had been living in the apartment since the 1960′s, is planning to move to the West Coast. Joan Menna, who owns her own firm, was the co-broker.

PARK SLOPE

195 Garfield Place

Three-bed, two-bath, 1,200-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $349,000. Selling: $332,000.

Charges: $1,017; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

TWO SCIENTISTS DO NOT ALWAYS MAKE SENSE Five town houses between Sixth and Seventh avenues were morphed into this one building in the 1880′s, their facades intact. Two scientists, one a Ph.D., the other a Ph.D. candidate, didn’t seem to mind. In fact, most of their logic was lost on their broker, Ezra Orchard of the Corcoran Group. “I thought they were going to like the two-bedroom I showed them on President Street.” Nope. Two floors plus three bedrooms, two baths, a dining area and exclusive use of the backyard equaled a deal. “This is not the brightest apartment,” he said. “The whole thing kind of surprised me.” But it is in a good school district.