In the tower of the Carlyle Hotel, high above Madison Avenue,
Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece sits some days with her seamstress and
her advertising executives making and selling pretty dresses and sharp togs for
Manhattan’s little princes and princesses.
Over the last three months, sources tell The Observer , the wife of Greece’s exiled Prince Pavlos, sister to
Alexandra von Furstenberg (married to a prince herself) and Pia Getty (married
to the American version of royalty, a Getty) and daughter to duty-freeshopping
magnate Robert Miller, has availed herself of a 22nd-floorCarlyle apartment
owned by her father. The Carlyle digs, on the corner of 76thStreet,arethe
perfect solution to the cramped conditions in the Princess’s showroom
twoblocksup,at78th Street and Madison Avenue, home to her growing children’s
clothing company, called Marie Chantal.
The glitch in the fairy tale is that the apartment is supposed to
be on the market. In August, Ms. von Furstenberg and her husband, Prince
Alexander von Furstenberg (son of Diane), vacated the three-bedroom,
1,800-square-foot apartment, which went on the market for $2.9 million. But at
the same time, brokers say, Marie-Chantal-or rather, Marie Chantal L.L.C.-moved
“They use it off and on,” said Marie Chantal representative Paul
Wilmot, the former Condé Nast publicist who landed a plum piece on his client
in the December issue of Vogue .
While Mr. Wilmot said that the company does “talk about getting
additional office space,” he added that he wasn’t aware of any current efforts
to do so. Though he wouldn’t give specific figures, Mr. Wilmot did say that the
Princess’ line is about to roll out in European and Asian department stores,
and that the clothes are still on order with New York’s Bergdorf Goodman, Henri
Bendel and Saks Fifth Avenue stores.
Brokers who have seen the property since it went on the market
report that desks and seamstresses have moved into the Carlyle aerie. And one
of two listed phone numbers for Marie Chantal traces back to 35 East 76th
Street, the Carlyle’s street address.
According to Greg Dinella, the director of finance at the
Carlyle, the apartment is now vacant and being sold. He said someone who
offered $2.1 million late last year is still interested. (Mr. Dinella is also
currently trying to sell the Carlyle penthouse that President John F. Kennedy
once occupied for $4.9 million.)
Mr. Dinella said he wasn’t
aware of anyone conducting business on a floor “with two very important
suites.” But, he added,”we’renotdifferent than any other co-op. We couldn’t
have people coming back and forth to the apartment. If she was selling Oriental
rugs and having people come in and look at it-if we knew that [or] it was
brought to our attention-we would probably bring that up with the board of
But Mr. Dinella said that “they’re not selling Oriental carpets”;
nor have there been any complaints. Since the apartment is on the market, he
added, “it’s a moot point.”
When the Princess launched her children’s clothing line last
March, she told People magazine, “I
was desperate to work. I wanted to prove that I could do something on my own. I
didn’t want to go to my father and work for him.”
But the pressures of finding commercial space in Manhattan seem
to have gotten to her, and with 1,800 square feet available so close to
the company’s showroom, the temptation must have been formidable. Of course,
someone has to pay the whopping $14,800-a-month maintenance on the apartment;
then again, midtown office rents are holding steady at $80 per square foot. Mr.
Wilmot said he wasn’t aware of a financial arrangement between Marie-Chantal
and the owner of the apartment.
Pictures of the offering on Insignia Douglas Elliman’s Web site
show a series of bare but nicely appointed rooms, all with dark-stained
herringbone parquet floors and gallery-white walls, and a small kitchen that,
with its Sub-Zero fridge and professional-grade, stainless-steel stove, puts
most water-cooler alcoves to shame. (Elliman no longer has the listing, but
neither its Web site, nor that of brokerage Brown Harris Stevens, where broker
Sami Hassoumi now has the exclusive on the place, has been updated to reflect
the change. Mr. Hassoumi would not speak to The
Observer about the apartment.)
Ironically, Marie-Chantal did not let her offices spill into her
own real estate: an 18-foot-wide neo-Georgian townhouse at 154 East 78th
Street, between Lexington and Third avenues, that she and the Prince bought in
May 2000, and which is on the market for $8.9 million.
Then again, it doesn’t have room service.
two-bedroom, two-bath co-op.
$1.35 million. Selling: $1.1875 million.
$1,800; 40 percent tax-deductible.
on the market: four months.
GOES THE NEST EGG This couple was on top of the trend of retirees moving
from easy living in sunny climes to the fast pace of Manhattan, placing a bid
early last year on a ninth-floor apartment in this prewar Park Avenue building.
But in those headier times, they lost the place to a higher bidder. Even after
the Sept. 11 attack, their enthusiasm for Manhattan in general-and this Park
Avenue address in particular–was unflagging. Their persistence paid off when
the estate of a longtime building resident on the fourth floor started showing
an apartment with the same layout they had liked so much in the last
go-round-for about a half a million dollars less. The five-room place has all
of its exposures on the avenue. And it’s not tiny: There are two bedrooms and a
small maid’s suite, a living room, dining room and kitchen. After 40 years of
wear and tear, the apartment needed work. But having seen the totally renovated
place upstairs, the couple decided to go ahead and spend their savings on a
floor-to-ceiling rehabilitation. The listing broker was Silvana Mander, a vice
president at William B. May.
East 14th Street
one-bath, 850-square-foot co-op.
$345,000. Selling: $333,000.
$730; 50 percent tax-deductible.
on the market: 10 weeks.
LAP OF LUXURY It doesn’t have a roof deck, or a gym, and none of the
apartments have balconies-this is the East Village, after all. Still, the
apartments in this building are described by brokers as “luxury” spaces. In
East Village terms, this means that the 18-story building on the north side of
14th Street, between First and Second avenues, was not built as a tenement-and
though it doesn’t have a doorman, it does have a high-tech security system that
requires residents to use a laser card in order to get into the new lobby. Most
luxurious, however, is the apartment’s sunny living room. The fact that the
bedroom window opened out onto an air shaft wasn’t a problem, according to
Corcoran broker Layla Rosenfeld, who represented the buyer in this deal. “It’s
perfect for sleeping,” she said.
$2.59 million. Selling: $2.59 million.
on the market: six weeks.
AGAIN Leslie Mason is truly a townhouse connoisseur. Since 1996, the
strawberry blonde has been selling high-end townhouses, mostly in the downtown
area, for the company now known as Insignia Douglas Elliman. Her love of
townhouses is part legacy-her mother, Pat Mason, was a high-end townhouse
broker as well. Recently, however, Ms. Mason has been doing more than just
selling townhouses; she has also been looking for one to buy. “Every time I got
a listing, I’d think about it,” she said, but as of spring of this year nothing
had met her high standards. Then in May, fellow Elliman broker Sylvia Morton
listed this four-story home on Charlton Street, just south of the West Village.
Ms. Mason knew the location well. She grew up in a rental at 39 Charlton
Street. The north side has the distinction of having the longest row of
preserved Federal-style townhouses in Manhattan. This house was built in 1827
and has a triplex, with a 60-foot-deep garden complete with magnolia and cherry
trees, topped by a separate rental apartment. “This house was in every way the
perfect fit,” said Ms. Mason, who was then living in a loft in Chelsea. “The
location, the garden, the income, the condition.” What wasn’t perfect was the
competition she faced. Ms. Mason made an offer on the place the first day she
saw it, but the sellers continued to show it. “All of a sudden, there were
three other offers on the table, which surprised me because I always thought of
this street as a happily kept secret.” Not wanting to let the place slip
through her fingers, she eventually agreed to pay full price, signing a
contract on the weekend of July 4. After a lengthy wait, the deal finally
closed, and after stripping and bleaching the floors and “opening things up a
little,” Ms. Mason has, happily, moved in. She said of coming home every night:
“Every time I see my little lit lantern, I just couldn’t be happier.”
aircraft honcho buys hindu
temple as new home
Carnegie Hill, with its quaint boutiques, mom-and-pop
bookshops and proximity to Central Park, has long been popular among New
Yorkers who like a shot of Mayberry with their Manhattan. But stroller-pushing
celebrities and soft-spoken socialites are not the only ones who bask in the
neighborhood’s shady serenity. Since 1933, a Hindu cultural center and temple
called the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York, on East 94th Street, has
served as a spiritual haven for truth-seekers on and off the Social Register,
attracting literary lights like Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, Joseph
Campbell and Arnold Toynbee. “For being in the middle of the city, it is very
peaceful,” intoned a source at the Center. “In the summer, it is very
When programming and funding from well-heeled
congregants across the country started expanding, and the Churchill School
next-door was looking for a way out of its too-small Carnegie Hill digs in two
adjoining buildings at 19 East 94th Street and 22 East 95th Street, the temple
purchased both school buildings for an unspecified sum in 2001. (City records
on the sale are incomplete.) But the Center only really needed one of them, so
this fall they flipped the 95th Street property to city newcomer Michael Graff,
a former chief executive of the aerospace division of Bombardier, an
aircraft-maker in Montreal. In June, Mr. Graff offered $3.795 million for the
building, which will need a gut renovation to be changed from a school into a
home. It took until late November to get city approval for the renovations and
close the deal.
Efforts to reach Mr. Graff through his former employer
in Montreal, and through a lawyer representing him in the purchase of the
building, met with no response. A local broker familiar with the deal said that
Mr. Graff was renting an apartment in Carnegie Hill until renovations were
complete, but would not give an address.
Mr. Graff and his wife were said in the press to be
anxious to join their grown children in New York City. Mr. Graff announced that
he was leaving Bombardier last June; within three months, Bombardier and its
competitors were sucked into a fiscal vortex by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Airlines started cutting capacity and staff and, facing financial hardships,
were buying fewer aircraft, canceling orders and delaying payment on
outstanding orders to the company. Bombardier Aerospace has now said it will
cut another 3,000 jobs-it has already been trimmed by 3,800-if things don’t
Perhaps Carnegie Hill will provide a peaceful haven
from all that turmoil-once the construction is finished.