V.P., WHO ALREADY LIVES UPSTAIRS, WANTS $8.6 MILLION FOR OLD PLACE On the rare occasion when there’s an apartment for sale at 770 Park Avenue, the Rosario Candela-designed co-op near 72nd Street, brokers are known to refer to the address as “the Agnelli Building,” after Giovanni Agnelli,the80-year-old head of the Italian family that owns Fiat (Italy’s answer to the Kennedys), who has owned one of the building’s penthouse apartments for more than a decade. But it may be time for the co-op to be renamed the Philip Morris Building.
In mid-March, David Dangoor, the Swedish executive vice president of Philip Morris, made a deal to buy a second- and third-floor duplex apartment at 770 Park for about $10.5 million. The deal seems a cinch, since Mr. Dangoor and his growing family would be moving from the ninth floor, where they have lived for six years in a three-bedroom apartment.
Since Mr. Dangoor and his wife, Ida Weitzen, are already in residence, they don’t have to pass the co-op board again or butter up the neighbors, who include David Schiff and his wife Lisa, whose son is married to Karenna Gore; Alan McFarland, a partner in the private investment firm McFarland Dewey & Co. and a Yale chum of Senator Joseph Lieberman; Michael Lynne, president of New Line Cinema; and Jon Rodenstrike, a private investor and the president of 770 Park’s board.
The Georgian-style 1929 building “has detailing that you don’t find in other buildings,” said Sharon Baum of the Corcoran Group, who is selling a fourth-floor, two-bedroom apartment with a $1.5 million price tag. “When someone hasn’t painted over them, it’s terrific,” said Ms. Baum about finishes like doorknobs and other hardware and cabinets. The apartments each have three well-defined sections: living, sleeping and service quarters. The building’s highlights include a lobby and hallways decorated by Dorothy Draper, a private gym and wine vaults for each apartment.
The Dangoors’ new duplex features 11 rooms, including four bedrooms, four bathrooms and two maid’s rooms. It went on the market Feb. 26 with Edith Tuckerman at Brown Harris Stevens. Mr. Dangoor would not be interviewed for this article, but a source said the Dangoors were moving to gain an extra bedroom. When the couple moved into the ninth-floor apartment, they had one child; now they have four.
Moving downstairs has its conveniences, but so does avoiding a co-op board. Some brokers said they wouldn’t want to be bringing someone before the board of 770 Park. Mr. Rodenstrike said the co-op is discreet to a fault. “I’m going to a sporting-goods store to buy something to defend myself when I read this article,” he half-joked. “The building is extremely private,” agreed another tenant, who insisted on anonymity. A broker described the tight-fisted building less lightheartedly: “I don’t like the aggravation of that particular building,” said the broker of getting someone past the board.
Mr. Rodenstrike, who would not comment on any sales in the building, said the board has not approved a new resident in two or three years, but only because there has been so little turnover. Mr. McFarland, who’s lived there for 30 years, described the co-op as “a family building. The goal has always been to be a family building, and I hope to keep it a family building.”
That will be the criterion for whoever grabs 9D, the apartment the Dangoors put on the market on March 27 for $7 million with Kathy Sloane and Edward Lee Cave. It has 10 rooms, including a library and a formal dining room, and was designed by Brian McCarthy in a “classical” style and built by architect Oscar Shamamian of Ferguson, Shamamian & Rattner Architects.
Prospective buyers beware: On April 4, the couple raised the price to $8.6 million.
UPPER EAST SIDE
SELLING OFF $30 MILLION IN PROPERTY BELONGING TO NIXON’S TREASURY SECRETARY When former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon died last June, he left behind a 4,500-square-foot co-op on the fourth floor of 635 Park Avenue and a 4.3-acre property in East Hampton. Simon’s estate put the East Hampton house–with its own windmill–on the market for $25 million back in November, but it has not sold. The Park Avenue co-op, on the other hand, came on the market “priced to sell” for $6.9 million in early March and garnered multiple full-price bids.
After one deal fell through, George Gillespie of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, the lawyer representing the estate, confirmed that the apartment is in contract as of March 13. The buyers are scheduled to meet with the board on April 12.
Mr. Gillespie said Simon “bought the place about five years ago, [but hadn't] been living there for a very long time.” In fact, he never made the three-bedroom apartment, with a library and a formal dining room, his permanent home, spending most of his time in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he lived with his second wife, Tonia Adams Donnelley.
Mr. Simon’s oceanfront Hampton estate, located at the end of Windmill Lane, off Further Lane near the Maidstone Club in East Hampton, was purchased in 1976 for a reported $541,000. The property is set up like a compound with several separate buildings: a main house with six bedrooms, almost all of which have balconies that face the ocean; a gunite pool and a pool house with a living room, bedroom and kitchen; a guest house or staff quarters with three bedrooms, a living room and kitchen; and another “cottage” where Simon had an office. The property, which is being represented by Dunemere and Sotheby’s, also has a 100-ton, 36-foot-tall windmill dating from 1802 that can be seen from the main house.
Simon, who was 72 when he died of complications from lung disease, was appointed U. S. Treasury Secretary by Richard Nixon in 1974. Before that, he was the director of the Federal Energy Office during the Arab oil embargo. “I’m the guy that caused lines at the gas stations,” Simon is reported to have said. After leaving office at the end of the Ford administration, he became a consultant to investment firms and businesses, and served as the United States Olympic Committee’s treasurer from 1977 to 1980, and as its president from 1980 to 1984. In 1982, he and a partner, Raymond G. Chambers, paid $80.5 million for Gibson Greetings, a cardmaker. A little over a year later, they sold the company in a public offering for $290 million, yielding a profit of $70 million each. In 1988, Simon founded William E. Simon and Sons, a merchant-banking firm with offices in California and New Jersey, with two of his seven children, William E. Simon Jr. and J. Peter Simon. They declined to comment for this story.
159 East 61st Street
Nine-bed, 5 1/2-bath, 5,000-square-foot townhouse.
Asking: $4.5 million. Selling: $4.4 million.
Time on the market: eight weeks.
THE HOUSE AOL-TIME WARNER BOUGHT When John Jay Iselin decided to leave his post as the president of Cooper Union last year, he was renting out the townhouse on East 61st Street where he had raised five kids. He and his wife, Lea, decided not to move back in since his kids were grown. So he sold it to Myer Berlow, president of interactive marketing at America Online, who wanted a post-merger home for himself, his wife, Deborah, and their three kids. The family will renovate–the first floor housed Mrs. Iselin’s law practice–but hopefully they will leave intact what the Iselins’ broker, Beatrice Ducrot of Stribling & Associates, called a “wonderful living room with a big, old fine leaded window,” as well as some impressive Old New York details. The Iselins are starting a new era of their own: Mr. Iselin is now heading up the prestigious Marconi Foundation, headquartered at Columbia University, which grants awards for advances in telecommunications, and his wife has left her private practice to join the Manhattan firm Morris & McVeigh.
UPPER WEST SIDE
255 West 84th Street
One-bed, two-bath, 1,400-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $970,000. Selling: $990,000.
Charges: $1,478; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: 4 1/2 months.
A QUARTER-CENTURY OF MOLDING MEMORIES For more than 25 years, a woman had rented this apartment, never letting anyone in and only leaving at 11 p.m. each night to eat at the coffee shop on the corner. “When she passed away, [the apartment] had more garbage up to the ceiling than you’ve ever seen,” said Veronica Carter, a broker with Douglas Elliman. But the tenant’s strange living habits actually helped to preserve the place. “All the original moldings were in triple-mint condition because she never painted the place,” said Ms. Carter. “And she had never cooked, so there were no pests or anything because she never brought food into the apartment.” The apartment’s layout is called an “Edwardian five”: Designed for well-to-do bachelors, it has a living room, a formal dining room, a master bedroom and a maid’s room. It was bought by a woman who had an eye for what the place could be. “Anybody else would have walked into the foyer and marched right back out the door,” said Ms. Carter. “It helped that a neighbor who lived on a lower floor in the same line invited us in to see what the finished product could look like. It was a wreck, but it was a gem,” she said.
252 Seventh Avenue (The Chelsea Mercantile)
Three-bed, 3 1/2-bath, 2,600-square-foot condo.
Asking: $2 million. Selling: $2 million.
Charges: $1,400. Taxes: $1,300.
Time on the market: two weeks.
LEGAL STRATEGY: WAIT SOME MORE About two years ago, a couple of attorneys living in a 1,050-square-foot apartment in Chelsea started fantasizing about moving to a large loft space in a doorman building in the neighborhood. This building seemed like a dream come true. Gil Neary, a broker with D. G. Neary Realty, was supposed to keep them posted. Mr. Neary took the lawyers to the building and showed them this penthouse apartment, which now has three bedrooms, three and a half baths and a fireplace. At that time, however, it was unfinished space. “We walked around the perimeter of where the windows would be; there was no plumbing, no floors, no walls …. But they got to see what it would look like if you looked out the window,” said Mr. Neary. The people liked what they saw, including the fact that the apartment came with a 12-foot-by-21-foot roof deck. They were among the first to sign a contract, but then the developers decided to close deals from the ground up. The attorneys’ closing a few weeks ago was one of the last in the building. Mr. Neary estimates that his clients waited 18 months to buy the apartment–and the wait isn’t over yet. The lawyers have decided to gut-renovate the place, a job Mr. Neary expects to take at least six months more.
30 Fifth Avenue
One-bed, one-bath, 1,050-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $722,500. Selling: $775,000.
Charges: $1,117; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: one month.
10TH STREET LUNGE This large one-bedroom apartment, located near 10th Street, had been home to a couple for 10 years before they left town for a better job. After it had been on the market for about a month, a young woman in the building jumped at the place, with its prewar details and recently renovated kitchen. According to Sam Harper of Douglas Elliman, the buyer was not in the market for a new place, but when she heard that a larger apartment was available, she decided to take advantage of a fairly easy upgrade. She has some small cosmetic changes in mind.