HEDGE FUND MILLIONAIRE GETS TWO BALLROOMS, RIVER VIEW On June 16, after two years on the market, the 17-room penthouse of the late philanthropist Janet Annenberg Hooker at 1 Sutton Place South closed for about $10.9 million. The buyer is Richard Perry, the president and managing member of Perry Capital, a hedge fund.
Mr. Perry signed a contract in late April to buy the 6,400-square-foot, full-floor apartment in the 13-story building for about $4 million less than its initial asking price. The price tag for the apartment, with four bedrooms, five maids’ rooms and a 6,000-square-foot wraparound terrace, dropped from $15 million to $12.5 million in April 1998 and down to $10.9 million last February.
The penthouse, one of Manhattan’s most prized apartments with an enviable East River view, features an elaborate palazzo, two 40-foot-high drawing rooms on opposite ends of the apartment, 18th-century gold and ivory door frames and white marble floors. The palatial spread was a suitable place for Ms. Hooker, daughter of Triangle Publications founder Moses Annenberg and sister of communications magnate Walter Annenberg, to throw lavish parties, complete with a 17-foot-long dining room table. Among her more memorable guests was Richard Nixon, a longtime family friend.
“It’s one of the truly great apartments in New York …. It’s one of a kind,” said a broker. “It’s a phenomenal apartment with a great history.” But, according to the broker, it took two years to sell because its floor plan required an imaginative buyer. “It took somebody who wasn’t thinking [of a] boxy living room-dining room layout,” said the broker, who thought a buyer would have to be in a “much more European” mind-set and willing to purchase an apartment that “needed a lot of work.”
Ms. Hooker bought the penthouse in 1963 from polo player Winston Guest and his wife, socialite and garden columnist C.Z. Guest, who told The New York Times in January 1998, “It was not an apartment for a normal family. We lived on one side, and my son, Alexander, lived with Nanny on the other side.”
The penthouse’s original owner was Mr. Guest’s mother, Amy Phipps, whose father, Henry Phipps, was a partner of Andrew Carnegie. Mr. Phipps developed the 1927 building, located between East 56th and 57th streets, and designed by Cross & Cross and Rosario Candela.
The home is part of the hefty inheritance left by Ms. Hooker to her son, Gil Khan. Her ocean-to-lake Palm Beach home at 1500 South Ocean Boulevard was bought for $11 million in March 1999 by James Clark, who sold Netscape Inc. to America Online, Inc. for $4.2 billion.
Ms. Hooker died in December 1997 at the age of 93. She is perhaps most famous for donating $5 million and her priceless yellow diamonds to establish the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. (The 45.52-carat blue Hope Diamond, donated by Harry Winston more than 40 years ago, is also displayed in the hall.)
Mr. Perry is famous for … being rich! In 1998, he was listed as the 42nd highest earner on Ticker’s Wall Street 100 List, with annual minimum earnings of $34 million. In March, Perry Capital’s net inflow was $141.88 million, according to an analysis by Managed Account Reports. More recently, Perry Capital announced that it was looking to raise $500 million for hedge funds that will target Western Europe. On June 1, the expanded Perry empire, called the Perry Capital European Fund, started trading with a minimum investment of $5 million. Although the U.S. company and its Cayman Islands-based counterpart have been trading in Europe for the past three years, its new funds are the firm’s first to focus exclusively on Europe.
Mr. Perry–not to be confused with the record producer or convicted gambler who share his name–is also a major contributor to the Democratic Party.
Broker Lee Waldman of Stribling & Associates represented Ms. Hooker’s estate, and Heather Johnson Sargent, a new broker with the Corcoran Group who is in her late 20′s, represented Mr. Perry, who is a family friend, and his wife, Lisa. “I have no comment,” said Ms. Sargent about the deal. Mr. Perry and Ms. Waldman didn’t return calls for comment.
A broker told The Observer that Mr. Perry didn’t exactly glide through his interview with the co-op board. “The board at 1 Sutton Place South were total bastards,” said the broker, who alleged that Mr. Perry will have to wait about a year before moving in because the board only allows renovations during the summer, when the residents (including actress Sigourney Weaver) are sequestered at their Hamptons estates or traveling abroad and thus won’t be disturbed by noisy construction. Monthly maintenance charges are $13,487.
(In October 1998, Shelby Bryan, the Texas cell-phone mogul and now beau of Vogue editor Anna Wintour, was turned down by the board when he made an offer to buy the penthouse.)
But Mr. Perry seems pretty confident that he’ll have no trouble moving into his penthouse. In early June, he put his 5,500-square-foot, 6th-floor apartment at 117 East 72nd Street on the market for $11.5 million. He bought the apartment, with five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a library and three fireplaces, for about $3.5 million in November 1990. “It’s beautiful,” said one broker.
Ms. Sargent, Sharon Baum and Elizabeth Mottram of the Corcoran Group are handling the sale of Mr. Perry’s apartment. “There is absolutely no comment,” said Ms. Mottram.
UPPER EAST SIDE
VANNA WHITE’S HUSBAND SPINS WHEEL AND GETS $9.75 MILLION TOWNHOUSE; BUT WHO WILL MOVE IN? George Santo Pietro, a Los Angeles restaurateur and the husband of game-show hostess Vanna White, bought a landmarked townhouse at 36 East 67th Street for $9.75 million in early March. The building, purchased from the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations, is undergoing a major renovation and should be ready for occupancy in about two months. But there are contradictory reports about who will be moving in.
Sources told The Observer that Mr. Santo Pietro intends to move his family into the five-story mansion, off Madison Avenue. But when asked if the California-blonde Wheel of Fortune queen plans to make an East Coast-East Side move, her lawyer responded with an emphatic “No.”
Last fall, published reports had the 10-year Santo Pietro-White union on the rocks, after Mr. Santo Pietro was allegedly spotted spending a lot of time with 23-year-old model Tanya Abayan. In January, the National Enquirer reported that Ms. White had threatened to divorce her husband if his playboy behavior continued, though she denied to USA Today accounts of a marital rift. The couple have two children.
Regardless of who will ultimately live in the house, sources say Mr. Santo Pietro has been staying in New York, overseeing large-scale renovations of his new mansion and restoring it to a single-family home. Since it was built in 1906, the townhouse has been used as a mortuary, a nursing home and, from 1958 until 1998, as the headquarters for the Egyptian mission.
According to brokers, years of neglect had left the building a mess. “It needed everything,” said one broker. “It was a dump,” said another. Marilyn Herskovitz of Douglas Elliman, the exclusive broker on the deal, agreed. “The house needed absolutely total renovations,” she told The O bserver . But that didn’t stop her from having more than five interested buyers. “You had to do a lot of work, but that didn’t frighten anybody,” she said.
Mr. Santo Pietro, who ultimately won the property by being the first to agree to sign a nonrefundable contract, began the needed renovations four months ago. When they are completed (projected for summer’s end), the townhouse will once again have six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a paneled dining room and a spectacular 40-foot-long ballroom with original moldings.
According to his architects, Anthony Morali and Mike Gadaleta, Mr. Santo Pietro will use the first floor to display his private art collection.
10 East 73rd Street
Asking: $5 million. Selling: $4.8 million.
Time on the market: Four years.
“Hundreds of people looked at it but were afraid of doing the work,” said the buyer’s broker, Richard Steinberg of Ashforth Warburg Associates, of this five-story limestone building that was formerly used as offices for the New York Board of Rabbis. “It was a definite gut-rehab candidate,” agreed the sellers’ broker, Paul Massey of Massey Knakal Realty Services. And a gut-rehab is exactly what the buyer, Michael Cannon, a wealthy English businessman, intends to do.
Mr. Cannon first bid on this place two years ago when he decided to move from England to New York. Although he had a signed contract with the rabbis, the deal never closed. According to Mr. Steinberg, the hold-up was caused by a New York City law requiring nonprofit groups to get attorney- general approval before selling property. Mr. Cannon waited eight months for approval, but eventually gave up. Not that he was waiting idly: During that time, he bought and renovated two other townhouses and then, after deciding to move to Boston instead, sold both of them at a profit. Mr. Cannon, though, enjoyed the process so much that he started Premiere Properties of Manhattan, a company dedicated to buying and renovating townhouses. Mr. Steinberg was dispatched to find more townhouses that needed redoing. This one was still on the market, and so the two decided to try again. This time the deal went through in only four months, and the gutting of this mansion, located right off Fifth Avenue, began during the second week of June.
According to John Springer, the architect for the project, the interior of the house will be gutted down to the studs, but the French neoclassical facade will remain intact. When the townhouse is finished (in about 10 months), it will feature seven bedrooms, seven fireplaces (including one in the master bathroom), a new deck in the back to match an existing deck in the front and a garden in the rear. Mr. Steinberg expects that the renovated mansion will sell for about $11 million.
PATRICK MCENROE BOOKS A CROWD FOR ONE OF THREE NEW HAMPTONS HOTELS With summer-house rentals in Southampton running from $40,000 to as high as $500,000, only the early birds–the connected early birds–get the bargains. But a new crop of mid-priced hotel rooms have sprung up in the Hamptons, offering cozy and clean accommodations for $200-plus a night.
The Bentley, the Atlantic and the Capri are all up and running for the summer in Southampton. Owner David Waksman, 33, calls the hotels “motiques”–a cross between a highway motel and an upscale boutique hotel. Sure, the din of Route 27 traffic is just outside every door, but each of the rooms–open for their first season–has Internet access, a TV, a VCR and a big closet in case you had trouble deciding what to bring for the weekend.
Tennis pro Patrick McEnroe has booked about 100 nights at the mid-priced Atlantic Hotel for the end of July for his team, who are competing in the first Hamptons World Team Tennis matches.
“It seems like a nice mix of being in a good area and being new and almost bed-and-breakfasty,” said Mr. McEnroe, who also chose the Atlantic for its closeness to the beach and the contest courts in Southampton.
In the past, weekenders had to make do with the shabby Concord Hotel, long past its prime and filled with un-chic vintage beach furniture and the residue of too many party nights. The Concord has now become the Bentley, revamped by Mr. Waksman and his partners, Jeff Salaway of Nick & Toni’s restaurant and Mark Smith of Rowdy Hall, as the most upscale of the trio. It has 38 rooms, each of which features a kitchen and a terrace. Suited for families, the Bentley is priced between $290 and $390 for one weekend night.
The Concord Hotel used to be known for its high school post-prom parties, with trashed rooms accommodating queasy underage drinkers. “It was quite the place, known to the local police at the time,” said Mr. Waksman, who has not yet been approved for a liquor license to serve poolside cocktails at his new hotels.
The Capri’s rates are less expensive, geared to a younger crowd seeking to pay from $190 to $250 for privacy and quiet after a Saturday night partying at the local nightclubs. (Last summer, when the Capri was still the worn Bayberry Inn, Jennifer Lopez and her sister spent a night). Mr. Waksman hopes to convert the neighboring chintzy Chinese restaurant, Dah Jong, into a swank lounge by next summer.
The Atlantic falls in between, with rooms priced from $260 to $310. This summer’s guests include party promoter Mark Baker, who has rented rooms for model clients, and record producer Nellee Hooper.
“The big fluffy white duvets–oh, they’re the best!” said publicist Lizzie Grubman, who also has booked rooms for clients she won’t be hosting at her father’s East Hampton house.