Burden Sells Party Pad

Manhattan socialites will soon have one more fabulous address to scratch out of their black books: Susan Burden, widow of the businessman, politician and Vanderbilt heir Carter Burden, has put her stately 11-room co-op at 1020 Fifth Avenue on the market for $23.5 million.

The apartment was famously redone in the 1980’s by elite design darling Mark Hampton. Views of Central Park certainly helped, as did the grand 17-foot-high mahogany-paneled living room. But it was the Hampton touch that made the place. “It’s the most beautiful apartment Mark Hampton ever did,” socialite and Vanity Fair society scribe Nan Kempner, Ms. Burden’s close friend, gushed to The Observer . “I’m sorry she’s selling it. It’s so beautiful, but I guess it’s a little bit big for her …. It was just always lovely, and she’s a divine woman.”

In addition to her practice as a family psychologist, Ms. Burden sits on the boards of the Burden Center for the Aging and New Yorkers for Children, an organization that supplements welfare services to city children. Ms. Burden’s husband, Carter Burden, who died in 1996, was a City Councilman from 1969 to 1978; the managing partner of William A.M. Burden & Company; and also owned The Village Voice and New York Magazine . Mr. Burden’s first wife, Amanda Burden, is the new director of the Department of City Planning and chairwoman of its Planning Commission.

Calls to Susan Burden were not returned, and her broker, Kathy Steinberg of Edward Lee Cave Realty, declined to comment.

But Mr. Hampton’s daughter, Alexa Hampton-Papageorgiou, who is president of Mark Hampton Inc., and who held her engagement party at the apartment, was also singing its praises.

“I’ve seen a lot, and this is probably one of the most spectacular apartments I’ve ever seen in my life,” she said. “But for all of its grandeur-which there is plenty-it’s not one of those places where you walk in and think, ‘I shouldn’t sit down.’ It’s cozy even while it’s magnificent.”

Ms. Burden and her late husband bought the apartment for $4.9 million in 1990. Its three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, eat-in kitchen, formal dining room and “gentleman’s study/dressing room” take up the entire 11th floor. Many of the doors have pediments, and columns flank the entrance to the apartment’s double-height living room, which is being marketed (in a rare understatement) as “perfect for couples that entertain.” Ms. Hampton-Papageorgiou recalled attending several weddings, cocktail parties and formal dinners at the apartment, and said that the living room’s tremendous size allowed for “beautifully proportioned” gatherings.

“It was so huge that several groups could be dispersed comfortably around the room,” she told The Observer . “That’s why my father was so proud of that project: It was a perfect example of working with two close friends and getting it right.”

As apartments in the famous building with views of the park are extremely rare, news of this apartment coming on the market spread quickly through luxury real-estate circles. Built in 1925 by Warren & Wetmore, the primary architects of Grand Central Terminal, 1020 Fifth sits across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the building contains 13 luxury apartments.

The duplex maisonette apartment on the first floor of 1020 Fifth is also currently on the market for $5.8 million. Its brokers at the Corcoran Group declined comment on the owners.

Seagram’s Heir to Sell Townhouse for $27M.

Seagram heir Matthew Bronfman is getting ready to move out of his second house in six months. This February, as the tabloids buzzed that his wife, Lisa Belzberg, was having an affair with Bill Clinton, Mr. Bronfman separated from her and moved out of their Katonah, N.Y., home. Now comes word that Mr. Bronfman has quietly put his townhouse at East 67th Street on the market for $27 million.

Mr. Bronfman, who is managing partner at ACI Capital, did not return repeated calls, and his broker, Deborah Grubman of Alice F. Mason Ltd., declined comment. Mr. Bronfman’s five-story limestone mansion, between Madison and Fifth avenues, measures 25 feet across and extends 96 feet into the block.

Mr. Bronfman bought the house in 1994 for $3 million, and he poured $19 million into a complete gut renovation that concluded in 1996. Although those renovations undoubtedly added millions to the house’s resale value, they were also alleged to have badly damaged his neighbor’s house, netting Mr. Bronfman a still-pending multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

Stuart Shaw, an attorney whose house shares a wall with Mr. Bronfman’s, told The Observer that Mr. Bronfman’s renovations destabilized his staircase and sent a structural steel beam through his wall. He predicted that his lawsuit against Mr. Bronfman would gum up the sale of his house.

“Who would buy a building with an open lawsuit?” Mr. Shaw said. “Who would buy a building whose beam I have the right to cut out-and their building would therefore be compromised and fall down?

“I’m not trying to drag their name through the mud, but I’m hurting,” Mr. Shaw continued. “They’re delightful people-but when it comes to this lawsuit, they’re absolutely unapproachable.”

Mr. Shaw says he expects the civil case to go to trial within the next nine months. Calls to Mr. Bronfman’s lawyer were not returned.

Those complications notwithstanding, Mr. Bronfman’s house is now little short of majestic.

The first floor of the townhouse has a grand limestone entrance hall, a fully equipped cook’s kitchen and wide-plank barn floors. The floor also has a family room, informal dining room and glass-enclosed back staircase. The second floor has herringbone floors, arched doorways, a formal dining room, a wood-burning fireplace and a Juliet balcony. The third floor has two bedrooms with a combination nanny room and playroom, two bathrooms and another Juliet balcony. The fourth-floor bedroom has a fireplace, dressing area and double-height bird’s-eye-maple-paneled library along with a planted terrace with an outdoor fireplace. The fifth floor has a library, office and staff rooms. The roof has a solarium and planted roof garden, while the basement boasts a gym, a staff room and a wine cellar.

Mr. Bronfman lives within 15 blocks of the rest of the New York–based Bronfman clan along Fifth Avenue. His father, Seagram co-chair Edgar Bronfman-who is also president of the World Jewish Congress-lives at 960 Fifth Avenue, near 77th Street. His uncle, Seagram co-chair Charles Bronfman, bought a duplex penthouse from disgraced Sotheby’s head Alfred Taubman at 838 Fifth Avenue in 1999. Matthew Bronfman’s brother, Edgar Bronfman Jr., owns a townhouse on East 64th Street.

carnegie hill

1185 Park Avenue

Three-bedroom, three-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $4.5 million. Selling: $4.2 million.

Maintenance: $3,540; 33 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: six months.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY Twenty-five years ago, real-estate agent Michele Kleier took a look at this huge nine-room co-op, complete with library and maid’s room, at the storied 1185 Park Avenue and told her clients, “If you don’t buy this apartment, I’m never going to call you again.” They took her advice and promptly moved in. It was one of Ms. Kleier’s first deals. A quarter-century later, with their two sons all grown up, these empty-nest parents-they’re in their early 50’s; she’s a psychiatrist, he’s a cardiologist-called Ms. Kleier back and told her it was time to find smaller digs. The building is a relic of Jazz Age New York. Built in 1929, and straddling the entire block between 93rd and 94th streets, it has Park Avenue’s only remaining drive-in courtyard, and the building’s six elevator lobbies each serve only two apartments per floor, lending an intimate feel to the massive building. The sellers of this approximately 3,700-square-foot apartment were so attached to their home that they insisted on interviewing any serious prospective buyers. “They have this emotional tie, and they wanted to make sure [the new buyers] were going to love the apartment,” said Ms. Kleier, president of Gumley Haft Kleier Inc. They found suitable torchbearers in a couple with three young children. Maybe it’s the difference between Carnegie Hill and the rest of Park Avenue, but it was the kids that sealed the deal. “The buyers are in the same state that the sellers were in 25 years ago. It’s the next generation,” said Ms. Kleier.

sutton place

419 East 57th Street

Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $695,000. Selling: $695,000.

Maintenance: $1,363; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one month.

A DEAL ON THE ROCKS A couple in their late 40’s were doing a final walk-through of this Sutton Place co-op when they discovered that the apartment’s previous owners had left the place in something less than mint condition. There was an old bed hanging around, furniture was strewn about, and the refrigerator was looking shaky. The buyers still appreciated the Sutton Place co-op’s 1,350 square feet and tremendous light on its 11th-floor perch, but the mess was almost enough to put the deal on ice. “Things were getting heated at the closing between the buyers and the sellers’ attorneys,” said the buyer’s agent, Tania Arias, of the Corcoran Group. “They were quite upset, and there was much ado.” But rather than quibble, Ms. Arias and the sellers’ agent hopped in a cab over to Sutton Place to enlist the help of the building’s handyman in removing most of the offending personal items. She even filled up a glass with crushed ice to prove that the fridge was working. “I’ve done other things, but that’s pretty radical,” said Ms. Arias. “Whatever it takes to satisfy all the parties.”

chelsea

136 West 22nd Street

Three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom condo.

Asking: $1.85 million. Selling: $1.75 million.

Charges: $1,079. Taxes: $1,917.

Time on the market: three months.

MAX HEADROOM Two thirtysomething attorneys were all set to buy a loft on the seventh floor of this Flatiron condo building when they made a startling discovery: Their ceiling was three inches lower than an identical apartment on the fifth floor. Bringing their lawyerly acumen to bear on the situation, the attorneyssurmised that bydroppingdown twofloors,they would not only gain three inches of clearance space, but they could also knock $100,000 off the asking price. And drop they did. “It was a bit surprising,” said Insignia Douglas Elliman senior vice president Linda Fenn, who marketed the building. “Most people would go for a higher view and better exposures.” The attorneys’ fifth-floor loft has 3,272 square feet, wood-beam ceilings, exposed brick and original details. The building, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, dates back to 1907 and was converted into eight loft condos this year. The fifth floor’s new tenants traded in an Upper East Side co-op for their new digs, and according to Ms. Fenn, spent bundles of time poring over their new contracts. “They went over everything personally with a fine-tooth comb,” Ms. Fenn said. “Luckily, I wasn’t involved with that part of it.”

UPPER EAST SIDE

Upper East Side Lycée Sells

When the Lycée Français de New York announced in August of 2000 that it was putting all six of its magnificent Upper East Side townhouses- throughout which the school’s classes and administrative offices had been scattered for years-on the market, the scramble began in earnest.

“No block of townhouses of that architectural import has ever come on the market en masse,” said Kirk Henckels, a director of Stribling Private Brokerage. In the intervening months, everyone from Band-Aid heiress Libbet Johnson to the Emir of Qatar have taken an interest in the buildings. As of January, three of the buildings-3 and 5 East 95th Street and 12 East 73rd Street-had gone into contract.

Since then, London antiques dealer Carlton Hobbs purchased 60 East 93rd Street on June 5 for $10.6 million. Mr. Hobbs, who is one of the U.K.’s top antiquarians-and who reportedly doubles as a designer for Madonna, Elton John and Mick Jagger-told The Observer through a spokesperson that he expects the 93rd Street residence to become his company’s principal home. “Needless to say, we are delighted to be fulfilling a long-held dream of moving to New York City,” said Stefanie Rinza, Mr. Hobbs’ managing director. “However, as the New York property requires careful restoration and refurbishment, we do not expect to move before March 2004.”

Mr. Hobbs’ business will continue to be based in London until renovations on the 93rd Street townhouse are complete, and he plans on maintaining a presence in London after the move. The 57-foot-wide limestone mansion on 93rd Street has four floors, plus a basement and a 20-by-57-foot rear garden. Renowned architect John Russell Pope constructed the building in 1931 for Virginian Graham Fair Vanderbilt, the former wife of railroad magnate William Vanderbilt. Before the Lycée took over the mansion, it housed the Romanian Mission to the United Nations. “Of the six properties we marketed, this one lent itself the easiest to a restoration to a single-family house,” said Sharon Baum of the Corcoran Group, who co-listed the house with Corcoran’s Carrie Chiang. “For the business [Carlton Hobbs] is in, they are going to want it to show like a beautiful magnificent home. They clearly didn’t want a commercial space on the third floor of Madison Avenue.”

Mr. Hobbs made a name for himself in the U.K. by sending legions of “pickers” or antique scouts around the world and paying them handsome commissions for retrieving choice pieces of art and furniture. In 1996, Town & Country Monthly described Mr. Hobbs as “an unlikely cockney bloke … who soared to the top of the international trade with staggering, over-the-top pieces perfectly gauged to the taste for unabashed opulence during the splurging Eighties.” The 93rd Street mansion resembles a Louis XV–style maison particuliere at Versailles. On the outside, the house is entirely symmetrical, except for the arched doorway set back on the right side. The mansion’s three-bay main structure has a deeply coursed basement with arched, segmented openings. The mansion’s library has walls made entirely of marble-a feature rarely, if ever, found in a Manhattan townhouse. A broker who toured the property said it felt “like a palace, where Cinderella goes for the ball.”

After sitting on the sidelines for some time, it appears the other buildings in the collection are moving as well: Within the last two weeks, The Observer has learned, two of the most impressive buildings, 7 and 9 East 72nd Street, have also gone into contract, although Corcoran brokers are mum on the buyers.