Man Who Fought for ‘Acid Wash’ Is Burning to Spend $22 Million

The fashion world may know Eric Rothfeld as the American behind

acid-washed jeans, but real-estate observers now know him as the biggest

spender of recent memory. With his bold $22 million offer on Jan. 11 to

purchase the third floor of quiet-but-hyper-exclusive 4 East 66th Street from

the British government, Mr. Rothfeld would easily be paying the highest

price for a Manhattan apartment since New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine’s former

32nd-and 33rd-floor duplex condo at 515 Park Avenue sold for $18.25 million on

Dec. 20.

Mr. Rothfeld’s brash offer has turned heads for several reasons:

It came only one day after the third-floor apartment went on the market, it met

the seller’s asking price and it seemed to utterly ignore the seventh-floor

apartment at 4 East 66th Street-belonging to producer Leonord Goldberg-which

has sat on the market, listed at $25 million, unsold since May.

Apartments in 4 East 66th Street-designed by J.E.R. Carpenter in

1920 and home to Paul Allen, Ace Greenberg, Ezra Zilka, Sid and Mercedes Bass

and Veronica Hearst-don’t become available often. There are only 16 of them in

the 12-story building, and most are 18-room sprawls with two enormous parlors

overlooking Central Park along their Fifth Avenue frontage and a large dining

room and six bedrooms off a long gallery along the south side of the building.

When Mr. Goldberg-who co-produced the Charlie’s Angels movie-put his place on the market last year, it

was the first apartment for sale in the building in five years. (In 1996, Mr.

Allen paid $14 million for the 11th-floor apartment of producer Marty Raynes.)

Brokers have said that to sell the seventh-floor apartment, Mr. Goldberg must

reduce the price tag.

Mr. Rothfeld won a lengthy court battle several years ago against

American apparel makers, including Levi Strauss & Co. and Jordache,

requiring them to pay a Texas jeans manufacturer a licensing fee for using a

patented process giving jeans an “acid wash” look. Last year, he retired from

his post at Polo Jeans and from the board of the Jones Apparel Group Inc.,

which was selected in mid-December to be part of the Standard & Poor’s 500

Index. Mr. Rothfeld owns a $15 million, six-acre estate on Halsey Neck Lane in

the Hamptons and a 12-room apartment at 791 Park Avenue.

Brokers are now waiting for Mr. Rothfeld to put the apartment at

791 Park Avenue-”not an A-building,” but still pricey, said one broker-on the

market. But first, he has to be approved by the co-op board at 4 East 66th

Street.

BEAR STEARNS’ JAMES CAYNE PLAYS MUSICAL HOUSES WITH

DEVELOPER ABY ROSEN

Aby Rosen, the German millionaire and president of

residential developer RFR Holding, cannot keep away from the Upper East Side

townhouse market. Earlier this month, he signed a contract to buy an $8.5

million townhouse at 12 East 73rd Street, next door to Alexander and Alexandra

von Furstenberg. The house is one of six buildings being sold by the Lycée

Français-and the third house Mr. Rosen will have taken over in as many years.

And now Bear Stearns chief executive James Cayne is

getting in on the fun. Also earlier this month, Mr. Cayne paid a little more

than $8 million for 10 East 75th Street, a house that Mr. Rosen had bought,

then partially renovated, then sold. Mr. Cayne agreed to pay the Hewitt School,

the current owner, a little more than $8 million-just slightly more than what

Mr. Rosen got for the place.

According to sources, Mr. Cayne acquired the townhouse

for his son and daughter-in-law and their family. He could not be reached for

comment.

But Mr. Rosen, who could not be specific because of a

confidentiality agreement, said he himself would move into the neo-Classical,

five-story limestone house he has agreed to buy-when renovations are complete.

The building, having been transformed into a

schoolhouse, will need a serious revamp to be livable. Asked about a

renovation, Mr. Rosen said, “I guess I do like to do that.”

 

recent transactions in the real estate market

 

by tom mcgeveran

and deborah netburn

 

UPPER

WEST SIDE

 

470

West End Avenue

1,250-square-foot;

two-bedroom co-op.

Asking:

$589,000. Selling: $580,000.

Charges:

$583; 33 percent tax-deductible.

Time

on the market: 10 weeks.

MARCIA!

MARCIA! MARCIA! “It was very Brady

Bunch ,” said Shirley Morris of the Corcoran Group, describing the décor of

this apartment on a low floor of a 16-story Emery Roth building. Despite the

apartment’s prewar details, the sellers, a couple looking to retire in Florida,

had turned the second bedroom into a good old-fashioned 1970′s den, replete

with wood paneling on the walls and a brown and orange carpet. There was

airbrushed wallpaper in the living room, and the large galley kitchen had brown

countertops and had been stuffed full of brown cabinets. But Ms. Morris, who

sold the place with her partner Joy Weiner, said that instead of deterring

potential buyers, the 70′s stylings of the apartment made them feel right at

home. “A lot of people who are looking in that price range grew up in that era,

and I think it made everyone feel very comfortable and sort of nostalgic.” Or

maybe they felt like calling a decorator. The apartment didn’t get much light,

but the low maintenance, just $583, was reason enough for the buyers, a young

professional couple, to take the place. And regardless of how nostalgic the

décor makes them, Ms. Weiner and Ms. Morris say they plan to do a little

redecorating before moving in.

UPPER

EAST SIDE

 

870

Fifth Avenue

Two-bedroom,

three-and-a-half-bath,

2,100-square-foot

co-op.

Asking:

$4.5 million. Selling: $4.7 million.

Charges:

$4,162; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time

on the market: one month.

THERE’S

A PERSONAL SHOPPER FOR EVERYTHING About 20 apartment shoppers came to look

at this duplex apartment with two wraparound terraces overlooking Central Park,

but it was the envoy of a lady of means who snagged it for her boss. “She knew

what she wanted,” said broker Dianne Van Laer of Bellmarc Realty, of the buyer

who owns homes around the world. “She wanted views and space and location.” She

made those demands known to her representative, who handled everything short of being interviewed by the co-op’s

board-for which the new owner had to come to town herself. The one thing some

might have considered a drawback-”It is basically in original condition from

the 1940′s,” said Ms. Van Laer-was no problem for a buyer willing to put down a

deposit on a $4.5 million apartment without even looking at it. When she

finally got around to seeing the place, she was pleased.

 

TURTLE

BAY

 

217 East 48th Street

Four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath

townhouse.

Asking: $2.3 million. Selling: $2.15

million.

Time on the market: nine months.

MINIMALISM REIGNS- This house was a little bit “mini”-only 13 feet

across-but it was still too large for the sellers, whose children had left home

for college. Admittedly, this little house packs a lot of rooms into its

somewhat petite dimensions. On the ground floor there is a kitchen and a dining

room that open onto a small garden, the living are a on the parlor floor

has double-height ceilings, there

are two bedrooms and one full bathroom

on each of the other two floors, and there are four wood-burning fireplaces,

one on each floor. The sellers, one of whom is a designer, restored the

place, keeping many of the original details. It was big enough, and nice

enough, for a couple with a few kids to pay a little over $2 million for the

place. And as for the sellers, they have a spacious home on Long Island for

when the kids come back. Phyllis Lerner of Leslie J. Garfield & Co. represented

the seller.

 

TRIBECA

 

NYSE HONCHO DIGS IN DOWNTOWN

 

If you pictured New York Stock Exchange chairman

Richard Grasso in a large colonial spread in Sands Point, Long Island, or a

fusty Upper East Side co-op building, warming his toes before a crackling

fireplace after a hard day of trying to rescue the financial world from the

ashes of the World Trade Center collapse, think again. Hailed as a hero in the

aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the 55-year-old reopened the world’s largest

market six days after the massive destruction in lower Manhattan knocked out

much of the financial giant’s power and phone lines. And while some faulted him

for pulling back on a planned $1 billion office tower for the Exchange across

the street from its current headquarters at 11 Wall Street, Mr. Grasso was

privately making a much more personal commitment to Lower Manhattan, buying a

refurbished warehouse condominium loft space in Tribeca.

Mr. Grasso signed on to a deal for a $1.86 million

condominium on celebrity-friendly N. Moore Street in early June, but in this

case, he did not take possession until October, after everything downtown had

changed irrevocably.

Proximity to the Exchange was a prime factor, downtown

brokers said, as was security. The 1897 former fruit warehouse that Mr. Grasso

now calls home features a system where owners can monitor the property via

video camera from a computer elsewhere and authorized personnel can accept-or

reject-deliveries at the front door via videophone.

Mr. Grasso’s 2,900-square-foot, four-bedroom loft has

more homey pleasures as well: a modern kitchen with dual ovens, a built-in

stove with a griddle in the middle, large bathrooms with stone-clad tubs and a

terrace-plus those old cast-iron pillars and exposed wood-beam ceilings and wide-plank

floors that gave Soho its cachet once upon a time. Oh, and a fireplace.

 

BRIDGEHAMPTON,

L.I.

 

he probably won’t call it

sandywood?

 

For about 15 years, Sandy Gallin, the celebrity manager (of Dolly

Parton and Michael Jackson) turned Broadway producer, has been shopping for a

home in the Hamptons. “Everyone said he was never going to buy anything,” said

one Hamptons broker who has worked with Mr. Gallin in the past.

But just before Christmas, Mr. Gallin closed on a deal to buy 14

acres of land off Sagaponack Road in Bridgehampton for a little over $5

million. The property was formerly three adjoining properties: Two belonged to

Morris Kramer, a lawyer, and the third was held under a corporation name. One

has a 3,500-square-foot house on it and a pool.

Bonny Aarons and Linda Haugevik of Cook Pony Farm, who sold the

place to Mr. Gallin, describe the house as traditional and understated. The

brokers describe the land as rolling fields surrounded by nature preserves.

They said Mr. Gallin will renovate the house, adding an additional 1,400 square

feet, and build a boathouse, a guest house and a meditation-gym area. He is

also talking about putting in a two-acre pond.

“It is a real conservationist project, compared to what it could

be,” said Ms. Haugevik. “The whole concept is to be natural. The houses he’s

building will be very small.”

Mr. Gallin, who is currently producing the Broadway production of

The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute

and co-producing Hedda Gabler , is a

serious real-estate owner. He specializes in buying secluded properties,

completely redoing them and selling them for much more than he paid. He is

currently trying to unload a home in the Paradise Cove area of Malibu and

another in Beverly Hills that he just finished redoing, both for $12.5 million.

In October, he sold another Malibu home, in Carbon Beach, for $10 million.

Finding a semi-secluded property in the Hamptons may have

contributed to the length of Mr. Gallin’s search. “He wanted a long driveway,

and for it to be very private,” said Ms. Aarons.

When asked if Mr. Gallin would fix up this property and then sell

it, a friend of his said, “He’ll live there for a while until everyone has

oohed and ahhed and then he’ll put it on the market. That’s how he works.”

 

BRIDGEHAMPTON,

L.I.

 

gere’s great gripe: ‘monstrosity’ next door

 

Not only does Richard Gere have a 6,000-square-foot house going

up next door to the $2.5 million place he and Carey Lowell bought at 70 Halsey

Lane last year, but he lost $200,000 trying to prevent the “big monstrosity,”

sources say.

Last summer, Mr. Gere was prepared to pay over $2 million to a

developer who had bought the lot next door in order to have some breathing

room. But, a broker familiar with the deal said, at the closing in November,

Mr. Gere suddenly pulled out, forfeiting an estimated$200,000 deposit.

Another broker working on the deal attributed the abrupt change

of heart to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “He was freaked out about it,” the

broker said Mr. Gere told her. She added: “Everyone was.”

The developer, who has only built a few properties in the area,

snapped up the deposit and got to work. The lot, with a house and views of the

water, had what one broker called a “modest charm.” Demolition began several

months ago, and a 6,000-square-foot house, mixing Victorian and Colonial

elements with shingles, is already three-quarters done, according to Judi

Desiderio of Cook Pony Farm, who is now marketing the new home for $5.5

million. There’s a heated Gunite pool in the backyard and several porches with

views of the surrounding preserve, but it was unclear how much the place will

impose on Mr. Gere and Ms. Lowell.