Co-C.E.O. of Imax Shown the Door At 888 Park Avenue Board Nixes $13 Million Purchase By Imax Films Executive and Wife

Four years ago, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy had a pretty hard

time getting past the door at 888 Park Avenue. She was headed to a party in the

apartment of her new sister-in-law, Caroline Kennedy, and her husband Ed

Schlossberg, when the paparazzi practically blinded her as she struggled

through the stone-columned entrance, wearing a long, clingy black dress and

carrying a Barneys shopping bag.

Things haven’t gotten any easier at the building. On Nov.

13, 888 Park’s board voted not to allow Bradley J. Wechsler, 49, co-chairman

and co–chief executive of Imax Corporation, and his wife, Patti Newberger, into

the co-op. Their decision was characterized as a “broadside” to all involved,

said one observer.

Mr. Wechsler and Ms. Newberger thought the co-op board’s

approval was a fait accompli; they have friends in the building. The couple

selling the apartment (to move to a smaller apartment) seemed to agree. “The

seller was all scheduled to move; the boxes were there,” said one broker.

Mr. Wechsler and Ms. Newberger saw the 5,200-square-foot

apartment practically before it went on the market for $13 million just after

Labor Day. They decided they wanted it immediately-”It’s one of the most

glamorous apartments I’ve ever seen,” said the seller’s broker, Michele Kleier

of Gumley Haft Kleier-and signed a contract for just under $13 million about 24

hours later.

The 13-room corner apartment has six rooms facing Park

Avenue, a 40-foot entrance, a 14-by-18-foot master suite (with two bathrooms, a

sitting room and three walk-in closets), four additional bedrooms, a library

and a fireplace. The doors are made of polished cherry wood and the floors are

mahogany. It was extensively renovated a few years ago. The sellers bought the

apartment-the largest one in the building-in the early 1990′s. (Maintenance is

$4,225.)

Everything proceeded without a hint of the couple being

undesirable to the co-op board, sources said. “It was a complete shocker,” said

a broker about the board’s decision. “They were impeccable candidates, and I

know they had really powerful friends. It is absolutely mystifying.”

No justification for the rejection was made, and neither Mr.

Wechsler nor his broker, Cindy Kurtin of Stribling & Associates, would

comment, but Imax’s stock has plummeted 83 percent so far this year. Mr.

Wechsler and his partner, Richard Gelfond-who bought Imax in 1994 when it was

cash-strapped and turned it around-started trying to sell the Toronto-based

company in July, when they hired Wasserstein Perella (which owns about a 30

percent share in Imax) to find a buyer for all or part of the company. The

company’s stock soared on the hope that a studio like Disney would acquire it.

No such luck. Meanwhile, five of the over 200 Imax theater operators worldwide

have filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S., and the partners have bought

800,000 company shares in what they called an act of faith in the company’s

future.

The apartment at 888 Park Avenue went back on the market on

Nov. 20. Sources said that since the turn-down, Mr. Wechsler and Ms. Newberger

have looked at other apartments, including ones at 941 Park Avenue and 969

Fifth Avenue. “The apartments they are looking at are less money, but they need

more work,” said a broker.

Still, the couple hasn’t taken their 11-room apartment at

784 Park Avenue off the market. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment

went on the market for $6.25 million on Oct. 27; maintenance is $2,975.

Said one broker of the surprising situation: “Whoever turned

them down obviously played the game until the end.”

 

UPPER WEST SIDE

251 West 89th Street Two-bed, two-bath, 1,700-square-foot condo Asking: $1.12 million. Selling: $1.1 million. Charges: $832. Taxes: $250. Time on the market: three months.

THE APARTMENT YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD TO HAVE The sellers of

this two-bedroom apartment in an early-1900′s, family-oriented building hadn’t

really intended to move. “The apartment was very pretty,” said their broker,

Richard Mortimer of Douglas Elliman. “It had great floors and French doors

everywhere; it was really charming, if a little dark.” The couple, who have two

children, were satisfied with their place, but were looking casually at other

apartments. “Maybe they would have liked something bigger,” said Mr. Mortimer,

“but there was no major thrust of looking.” Then, during the summer, Mr.

Mortimer told them about a 3,400-square-foot condo on Riverside Drive in the

90′s. “It was their dream apartment: It looked like a brownstone mansion, and

if they didn’t move quickly, they would have lost it,” he explained. “They did

everything they could not to lose it.” They signed a contract for $3 million

and closed the purchase in August. They put this place on the market in July,

and two doctors bought it in September. According to their broker, the wait

“felt ominous.”

WEST VILLAGE

273 West 12th Street Three-story, 2,200-square-foot townhouse. Asking: $2.695 million. Selling: $2.705 million. Time on the market: six weeks.

HOW TO CLEAR WRITER’S BLOCK 

This three-story Federal townhouse first came on the market over a year

ago for $2.495 million, but the seller, a freelance writer, didn’t like having

to show it. “He couldn’t accommodate both the showing and the writing,” said

his broker, Sara Gelbard of the Corcoran Group. So he took it off the market

and didn’t put it back on until May, when he could write from his summer home.

The writer’s intolerance probably served him well, because the second time the

house came on the market, the asking price had gone up by $200,000. Not that

anybody minded. According to Ms. Gelbard, a model had signed a contract and was

waiting on a signature when a couple came in and overbid with an offer of $2.7

million. The house, circa 1830, is located between Greenwich Avenue and West

Fourth Street and has wide plank floors, central air and a garden in the back.

TRIBECA

47 Vestry Street Two-bed, two-bath, 2,200-square-foot co-op. Asking: $1.1 million. Selling: $1.075 million. Charges: $1,260; 47 percent tax deductible. Time on the market: six months.

HOW TO NOT MEET THE PARENTS 

This apartment originally came on the market in April for $1.2 million.

The sellers accepted an offer in May, but then the buyer had a change of heart.

In June, the price dropped to $1.1 million, and a couple with a small child

came along, trying to escape Chelsea and interested in Tribeca’s public

schools, and bought it in late October. The apartment is in a 10-unit loft

building on the corner of Vestry and Greenwich streets. According to their

broker, Brett Grabel of William B. May, they will relocate the kitchen, create

a home office and put in a third bedroom. The remodeling of the

2,200-square-foot apartment will take several months. In the meantime, they’ve

moved in to her parents’ place and will spend the holidays on the Upper East

Side. “[The parents] spend the winter in Florida,” explained the broker.