In 1988, Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg filled the Metropolitan Museum’s Temple of Dendur to celebrate the wedding of Mr. Steinberg’s daughter, Laura, to Loews scion Jonathan Tisch. The affair, which featured a Brazilian band on stilts and snow blowers lofting hundreds of thousands of feathers into the air, ran them $3 million.
That was then. Last October, when Laura Steinberg Tisch remarried, the bride and the groom, 42-year-old plastic surgeon Stafford Roy Broumand, were fêted at a Hamptons winery near the Steinbergs’ beach house in Quogue.
In between the two ceremonies, Saul Steinberg’s company, Reliance Group Holdings, had seen its coffers decimated, and Mr. Steinberg unloaded everything but the beach house, which has been wallowing on the market for $9.5 million since the summer of 2000.
The Steinbergs sold their Park Avenue co-op in 2000 for a record $37 million, 61 of their Old Master paintings for $50 million, and many of their furnishings in a Sotheby’s auction that raised $12 million.
So where does a millionaire-gone-bust go from there? In March, Mr. Steinberg signed a contract to buy a “humble” $5.6 million house at 46 East 73rd Street, between Park and Madison avenues, according to a real-estate source with information about the deal.
“It can be a very nice place if they put some work into it,” said one broker of the 20-foot-wide, five-story building. The understated house has southern exposures, outdoor space, eight bedrooms, an elevator and multiple fireplaces.
After selling their triplex at 780 Park Avenue, the Steinbergs checked into a three-bedroom apartment at the Helmsley Carlton House on Madison Avenue near 61st Street. They spent much of last year searching for a townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with Kathy Steinberg, a broker at Edward Lee Cave who is Mr. Steinberg’s sister-in-law. Judith Thorn of Ashforth Warburg represented the seller, Miami gallery owner Donald Rubell, who bought the house back in 1978. Neither broker returned calls requesting comment, but sources said the couple paid close to the asking price.
Based on the reactions of several real-estate observers, the news of the Steinbergs’ new digs might well be met with shock. “It needs total renovations,” sniffed one broker who had seen the couple’s new house.
“It must be another Steinberg,” said another.
Upper West Side
771 West End Avenue Three-bed, three-bath, 2,100-square-foot co-op. Asking: $1.15 million. Selling: $1.16 million. Charges: $1,100; 48 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: two and a half weeks. KITSCH CLEAN-UP “An old lady had lived there forever, and nothing was done to the apartment in at least 30 years,” said Jason Tames, a broker with Insignia Douglas Elliman. According to Mr. Tames, the kitchen was at least 60 years old, the three bathrooms were even older, and the floors needed to be completely redone. Go figure: That’s exactly the way the buyers-a couple with a baby on the way who’d been apartment hunting for about a year-liked it. “They loved the wreck,” said Mr. Tames. “They wanted to be able to start fresh.” Mr. Tames said they plan to “move around a lot of walls and completely reconfigure the apartment.”
Upper East Side
140 East 81st Street Two-bed, one-and-a-half-bath, 1,150-square-foot co-op. Asking: $749,000. Selling: $675,000. Charges: $1,101; 55 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: seven weeks. DISCOUNTS ALL AROUND In a case of bad timing, this two-bedroom apartment between Park and Lexington avenues went on the market for $825,000 on Sept. 7. In four days, brokers Jesse Temple and George Nicholson of Gumley Haft Kleier found a very interested buyer who wanted a second walk-through of the place on Sept. 11. That appointment was canceled, the interested buyer had a change of heart, and for the next three weeks there was no interest in the apartment. In the frantic days that followed, the seller negotiated a substantial discount on the price of an apartment he was in contract to buy at 715 Park Avenue and lowered the price on this apartment by $76,000. When a woman from the Hamptons made the seller a lowball offer-$74,000 less than the already discounted price-he decided to take it. “It was not what we expected,” said Mr. Temple of the final price. “But it was still a slight price increase from the last sale of an apartment in the same line in the building, which occurred in 2001.” The sale was final in late February.
200 East 61st Street Two-bed, two-bath, 2,348-square-foot condo and 650-square-foot studio. Asking: $2.45 million. Selling: $2.2 million. Charges: $950. Taxes: $1,860.
Time on the market: three months. FINICKY BUYER TAKES PAIR OF CONDOS AND A TENANT No rush, an apartment shopper told her broker. Unfortunately, that was about as specific as she could be on what she was looking for. In her years-long hunt for a new home, the range of stipulations she issued ranged from fabulous views and outdoor space to somewhere with lots of restaurants within walking distance. “We looked everywhere from East End Avenue to Lincoln Center to Sutton Place,” said broker Phyllis Stock of Charles H. Greenthal & Co. She finally settled on a two-bedroom condo with two balconies. According to Ms. Stock, the picky buyer was delighted that the studio next-door was also for sale by the same sellers and she took it-and its tenant-too. “We got everything she wanted, plus something we never even thought about,” she said.
148 West 23rd Street Two-bed, two-and-a-half-bath, 1,500-square-foot co-op. Asking: $795,000. Selling: $765,000. Charges: $2,525; 65 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: 11 weeks. HOW LOW CAN THEY GO? What a difference $5,000 makes. This penthouse, with a 300-square-foot terrace, wood-burning fireplace, home office and windowed kitchen in a prewar doorman building right off Seventh Avenue, came on the market priced at $800,000, but didn’t get any action at all. After a couple of months, the sellers changed their broker and hired Alex Nicholas and Gabriella Winter of the Corcoran Group, who promptly lowered the price by $5,000. Within a few weeks, a couple who’d been intimidated by $800,000 price tags took a look and decided to offer $765,000. Apparently, the sellers were willing to lower their expectations even further.