Astor’s 998 Fifth Home Gets $16 Million Nibble; Buyers Kept on Ice

WATERGATE PROSECUTOR’S SON LEFT IN BOARD’S WAITING ROOM The co-op board of 998 Fifth Avenue is taking its sweet time in meeting the couple that signed a $16 million contract for the 16-room apartment of Archibald Cox Jr., son of the Watergate prosecutor. According to sources familiar with the deal, Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, 48, chairman of Mondoil Corporation, a New Mexico-based oil company, and his wife Sharmin, a managing director at Goldman Sachs & Company, signed a contract on May 11–just one week after the apartment went on the market–but they still don’t have a date to meet the board.

Perhaps the well-heeled board members are occupied at their Hamptons estates. Among them are Morton Hyman, the board president, who runs a company called Overseas Shipholding Group and who is also chairman of the board of trustees of Beth Israel Medical Center; socialite Ann Slater; Peter Kimmelman, a private investor; and Linda Lindenbaum, wife of Samuel Lindenbaum, a zoning attorney.

Or maybe they’re just especially cautious about handing over the keys to Mr. Cox’s pad. The apartment’s history of rich residents started in 1912, when Jack Astor moved in. Astor survived the Titanic –in utero–but his father, Colonel Jack Astor, a.k.a. John Jacob IV, died when he wasn’t allowed to accompany his pregnant wife on a lifeboat. Mr. Cox bought it from attorney and two-time Kentucky Derby winner (Strike the Gold and Go for Gin) William Condren in August 1993 for $5.4 million.

On the other hand, the last applicant for a co-op at 998 was approved: Steven Rattner, managing director of fixed income in Europe at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, purchased the 19-room, ninth-floor apartment in 1994 for $6.5 million.

The Mossavar-Rahmanis are playing it cool and have not put their current residence at 953 Fifth Avenue on the market yet. (But the triplex penthouse apartment in their building just went on the market for $25 million.) The couple and their broker, Sassy Johnson of Stribling & Associates, didn’t return calls. Mr. Cox, the chairman of WarpSpeed Communications, a broadband service, also didn’t return calls.

“It’s a beautiful apartment,” said one broker. “The walls are two feet thick–it’s like a fortress. You feel like you’re living in a European castle.” The 5,000-square-foot place has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a huge gallery, a corner master bedroom and a library facing Central Park. (Maintenance is $6,600.)

An Italian Renaissance-style palazzo structure at the northeast corner of 81st Street, 998 Fifth Avenue was designed by McKim, Mead & White and opened as a rental in 1912; its residents have included Murray Guggenheim, former U.S. Vice President Levi P. Morton and a granddaughter of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, as well as Sylvia Green Wilks, the daughter of Hettie Green and the widow of Matthew Astor Wilks. The building boasts jewelry safes built into the walls of each apartment, refrigerated wine cellars, 10 1/2-foot-high ceilings and a lobby lined in Italian marble. It became a co-op in 1953.

The ninth- and 10th-floor units occupy the entire floor; the other floors are a mix of flats and duplex apartments, including the penthouse duplex, which is owned by Joseph Perella, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter’s managing director and worldwide head of investment banking.

Vacant apartments in the building are a rare commodity, but a 14-room apartment on the fourth floor went on the market in early July for $16.5 million. It was represented by Gumley, Haft, Kleier Realty, and Stribling & Associates.

SOHO

NO SLEEP TILL SOHO: WITH BEASTIES’ TOUR POSTPONED, KING ADROCK PLAYS HOUSE Maybe Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, better known as King Adrock, is lonely. In late May, the 33-year-old rapper splurged on a $2.3 million townhouse at 186 Spring Street between Thompson and Sullivan streets–a block so crowded most weekends that it makes New Yorkers wish they lived in Iowa. And he’ll have lots of time for tourist- dodging, since his band’s late-summer concert tour was indefinitely postponed after fellow white-boy rapper Michael Diamond (Mike D) took a nasty spill on his bike.

Mr. Horovitz, who was briefly married to actress Ione Skye, got a terrific address but not much of a house. What there is of it is less “ill” than “adorable,” said broker Sarah Bond, who sold the house with Meris Blumstein; both brokers work at the Corcoran Group. The “cottage,” as Ms. Bond described it, has just eight rooms–two of them bedrooms–and two and a half baths. The first floor is occupied by the Spring Street Garden flower shop. There are 12-foot ceilings in the living room and fireplaces everywhere.

The house was on the market for over two years at $2.5 million because “the seller just wanted her price,” said Ms. Bond. (Real estate taxes are $9,200).

The seller, Georgette Sloane, who moved to an apartment on 10th Street and Fifth Avenue and also has a home in Amagansett, said, “I’m pleased that he got the house

because I like him very much.” Mr. Horovitz signed a contract on April 26.

His publicist, Steve Martin of Nasty Little Man Public Relations, said Mr. Horovitz, who grew up in New York City, has lived “in a couple of different neighborhoods … all over downtown Manhattan” but would not comment on this deal.

UPPER EAST SIDE

PASSING ON THE PIED-À-TERRE : DAVID FROST UNLOADS ESSEX HOUSE CONDO In the 1970’s, when Sir David Frost, the television interviewer, hosted two news programs–one in the U.S., the other in his native England–he crossed the Atlantic twice a week. But his U.S. show ended in 1972, and in a recent interview he told a reporter that he now crosses the Atlantic only twice a month. On July 18, Mr. Frost sold the 1,150-square-foot pied-à-terre he had kept at the Essex Hotel on Central Park South for 20 years. The price was $1.6 million.

According to Mr. Frost’s broker, Diane Dickinson of the Fox Residential Group, “he just wasn’t using the apartment much.” And he does not plan to purchase another apartment in New York.

Mr. Frost, who has interviewed everyone from Lauren Bacall to Mikhail Gorbachev in his 40-year career, is perhaps best known for his sit-down with former President Richard Nixon in 1977. It was the first time that Nixon had spoken publicly about Watergate after leaving office, and it attracted a record audience–45 million viewers tuned in from the U.S. alone. Mr. Frost is currently the host of Sundays With Frost , a political interview program that airs in Britain.

His former building, at 160 Central Park South, is primarily a hotel, though condominium apartments make up 30 percent of the building. Condo owners get the same services as hotel guests, including access to a concierge and the hotel’s health club; maid service is additional. Mr. Frost’s former two-bedroom apartment has a 1,250-square-foot terrace that overlooks the park. Ms. Dickenson said the apartment will continue to be used as a pied-à-terre by the new owner, a businessman who lives out of town.

1080 Fifth Avenue

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,400-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $1.85 million. Selling: $1.6 million.

Charges: $1,800; 44 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one month.

WHERE LIFE IS AN ART Back in 1994, residents of this 22-story, full-service building, flanked by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to the south and the National Academy Museum to the north, received a letter from the U.S. Postal Service saying that to ensure timely delivery of their mail, the address should read “1080 Museum Mile.” The residents were not pleased. “I mean, can you imagine asking your cabdriver to take you to 1080 Museum Mile?” one resident said at the time. The Postal Service took it all back. (That’s the last time they mess with rich people and their fancy addresses.) According to the broker on this deal, Marcy Sigler of Stribling and Associates, the buyers of this two-bedroom corner apartment were lucky to get into the building at all. “There used to be 71 units in this building; now there are 57,” said Ms. Sigler. “Everybody wants more space, but nobody wants to leave the building.”

TRIBECA

165 Duane Street

One-bed, two-bath, 1,800-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $1.5 million. Selling: $1.48 million.

Charges: $1,800; 60 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

ROOF RITES The renovation of this penthouse loft in the building which once housed Bouley was a joint effort between the owner and a college buddy. Said his broker, Julie Rupprecht of the Halstead Property Company, the two installed cherrywood cabinets in the kitchen, a steam shower in the bathroom, high-speed computer wiring and a three-zone sound system. But their tour de force was finishing off 1,000 square feet of roof space and making it accessible from the penthouse. Now that the place is retrofitted for the year 2000 bachelor, why is the owner taking off? Cash . Pity the poor best friend, salivating for that first rooftop summer bash.

90 Franklin Street

Three-bed, three-bath, 2,633-square-foot condo.

Asking: $1.315 million. Selling: $1.315 million.

Charges: $1,507. Taxes: $924.

Time on the market: one and a half weeks.

A DUPONT BELOW CANAL STREET! Tribeca is officially expensive enough for bluebloods. In May, Richard duPont, an artist and distant relation to the founder of E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company, and his wife, Lauren duPont, a fashion editor at Style.com and daughter of the chief executive of Sears, Roebuck & Company, bought a condo in Franklin Tower, a former bank being converted into “luxury lofts” and intended for new money (see: Mariah Carey). Though it doesn’t have a catchy name referring to its gritty former life, the building has the standard exercise room (on the roof), doorman and concierge service. The duPonts were married three years ago and had been living in an apartment in the West Village. Ms. duPont formerly worked as a senior fashion editor at Vogue ; Mr. duPont, a Princeton graduate, is a painter and sculptor. Their new apartment has three bedrooms and three baths. The large living room-dining room has seven windows. The apartment has no maid’s room (see: Fifth Avenue), but it does come with a laundry room. Bruce Ehrmann and Confidence Stimpson of Stribling and Associates are the exclusive selling agents for the building.