Estate Sale

The daughter of late shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos is listing her father’s old apartment at 820 Fifth Avenue for upwards of $25 million. Mr. Niarchos, who spent decades engaged in a game of professional and personal one-upmanship with shipping rival Aristotle Onassis, died in 1996 from a stroke. His daughter, Maria, took possession of the eighth-floor apartment, but it has been largely vacant ever since, as business keeps her in Europe.

The co-op building is considered one of the four or five most exclusive addresses in New York. There is only one apartment on each of the building’s 12 stories, and each unit has a 44-foot-long gallery, five bedrooms, six-and-a-half bathrooms, seven servants’ rooms, five fireplaces and large entertainment areas. In 1984, Mr. Niarchos hired famed Italian interior designer Renzo Mongiardino to lay out the apartment.

After two failed marriages, the 56-year-old Mr. Niarchos married Charlotte Ford, the 24-year-old daughter of Henry Ford II. That union dissolved after two years. The next year, Mr. Onassis was declared the unconditional victor in the marriage race by marrying Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of John F. Kennedy. Mr. Niarchos answered back by marrying one of Mr. Onassis’ previous wives, Tina Livanos, who was herself the daughter of another Greek shipping magnate.

When Ms. Livanos died in 1974 from an overdose of sleeping pills, her daughter created a scandal by implying that Mr. Niarchos had something to do with the death. A subsequent investigation cleared him of wrongdoing.

Vacancies are rare in Mr. Niarchos’ old building, and brokers estimate that potential buyers at 820 Fifth would need to have at least $100 million to even be considered by the co-op’s notoriously fussy board.

Current residents include socialite and board president Jayne Wrightsman, gallery owner William Acquavella, Yahoo chief Terry Semel, and Lily Safra, widow of slain international banker Edmond Safra. Ms. Safra lives in the penthouse, but she is currently listing for $30 million the fourth-floor unit that she bought from Tommy Hilfiger, who flipped it in 2000.

The apartment’s listing broker at Sotheby’s International Realty declined to comment, and Ms. Niarchos was unavailable for comment.

Noho Eats Crow: Rocker Drops $2.4 M.

When Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz told his fans at the Hammerstein Ballroom in October that he had just decided to buy an apartment in Manhattan, the crowd let out a roar of approval. Last week, the throaty, dreadlocked crooner-who for years has used Manhattan as a backdrop for many of his songs-made it official, closing on a $2.4 million, 4,952-square-foot condo loft near Cooper Union.

Mr. Duritz bought the space raw, but the building’s developers say that it could easily accommodate up to five bedrooms.

“It’s L-shaped,” said one of the unit’s exclusive brokers, Robert McCain, of Stribling Marketing Associates. “So it would really work well if [Mr. Duritz] wanted to put any sort of music-related recording equipment on one side, and have the other side for living space.”

Although the 38-year-old Mr. Duritz grew up in Baltimore and California, he has apparently always had a soft spot for New York-as evidenced by the song “Sullivan Street,” and the album Across a Wire: Live in New York City .

He’ll certainly be getting an eyeful of the city from his fifth-floor condo. The sprawling, almost-trapezoidal-shaped apartment has east, south and west exposures, all of which have unencumbered open city views.

Neither Mr. Duritz nor his broker at the Corcoran Group could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Duritz is perhaps as well known for the “friends” he keeps as his music: At different times in the 1990′s, he was reportedly involved with Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox.

New York Observer 15th Anniversary

It’s The Observer’s 15th anniversary, so this week, in addition to “recent transactions in the real estate market,” Manhattan Transfers offers some of its accumulated wisdom about the buildings you’ll never qualify to live in, and the sale of the century, as well as a sampling of the deals that have made Manhattan Transfers headlines over the years.

1996

April – Bette Midler buys a 12-room triplex co-op at 1125 Fifth for $3.5 million.

June – Universal co-chairman Terry Semel buys a 7,000-square-foot co-op at 820 Fifth Avenue from Ann and Gordon Getty. He almost doesn’t make it into the building when board member Jayne Wrightsman voices reservations about the deal.

July – Jann Wenner buys a five-story townhouse at 57 West 69th Street. It listed for $4.25 million.

1997

June – Graydon Carter leaves the Dakota-where it’s rumored that Si Newhouse had eased the way financially-for a four-story townhouse on Bank Street that listed for $2.5 million.

November – Harvey Weinstein buys a 7,000-square-foot, six-bedroom townhouse on the Upper East Side, near Central Park. He pays the asking price of $3.95 million.

1998

January – Jerry Seinfeld buys a 3,400-square-foot duplex co-op at the Beresford from Isaac Stern. It listed at $4.35 million. He later pays about $1.4 million to build a 20-car parking garage nearby to house his Porsches.

March – Sean (Puff Daddy) Combs buys a $2.7 million beach house on Hedges Banks Drive in East Hampton, complete with pool and hot tub.

June – Richard Gere pays $2 million for a 5,000-square-foot townhouse that is part of the Macdougal-Sullivan Gardens Historic District. He is later fined for erecting a meditation temple on the roof without a permit. According to a local broker, Mr. Gere, a Buddhist, built the temple to give the Dalai Lama a place to pray when he came into town.

July – Spike Lee makes a final break with his home neighborhood of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and buys a 32-foot-wide townhouse at East 63rd Street, between Lexington and Third avenues. He buys the 9,000-square-foot mansion from Jasper Johns for $7.2 million.

August – Gwyneth Paltrow purchases a landmark three-story townhouse in the West Village for $1.6 million.

1999

February – Karenna Gore Schiff and her husband, Andrew Schiff, buy a $2.5 million East 66th Street duplex co-op; Anne Bancroft and her husband, Mel Brooks, longtime Hamptons fixtures, finally put down roots of their own. They pay W magazine editor Etta Froio $900,000 for a cottage on East Hampton’s Meadow Lane.

March – Jerry Seinfeld gets outbid by designer Helmut Lang for an East Hampton beach house. Mr. Seinfeld bid $14.5 million on the three-acre Tyson Lane home, but Mr. Lang takes the deed with a bid of $15.5 million. “Business is business,” a Seinfeld rep says.

July – No Central Park West co-op board is going to stand between Mariah Carey and a penthouse triplex. Weeks after being rejected by the board of the Ardsley, where she offered to buy Barbra Streisand’s three-tiered penthouse for $8 million, Ms. Carey is throwing $9 million at a new condominium development at 90 Franklin Street, where she is fashioning a downtown version.

August – Woody Allen sells his longtime home-a duplex penthouse at 930 Fifth Avenue-and pays $17.7 million for a five-story, double-wide townhouse on East 92nd Street, near Madison Avenue. He decided to sell his old place when he realized that the one-bedroom space was inadequate for his young wife, 28-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, and new baby, Bechet Dumaine Allen.

September – Just a few months before rehearsals begin for Wiseguys , a new Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim, star Nathan Lane buys a $1.7 million, 3,000-square-foot condo on N. Moore Street in Tribeca, on the block where John F. Kennedy Jr. lived. The condo had been rented out for the last two years by Marc Weill, the 42-year-old son of Citigroup Inc. chairman Sanford Weill.

October – At long last, media baron Rupert Murdoch buys a new home for his new wife. The News Corporation chief, who in June married girlfriend Wendy Deng, a former executive with his Asian satellite-television conglomerate, pays $6.5 million for a triplex penthouse loft at 141 Prince Street near West Broadway.

2000

January – MTV chairman Tom Freston buys the former mansion of Andy Warhol. The celebrated painter lived at the townhouse, located at 57 East 66th Street, from 1974 until his death in 1987. The 8,000-square-foot building, for which Mr. Freston paid around $6.5 million, has a secret trap door in the master bedroom.

March – Stephen Schwarzman buys Saul Steinberg’s triplex at 740 Park Avenue. (See box.) Also, Tyco chief executive Dennis Kozlowski beats out Adam Dell to buy Stephen Schwarzman’s 12-room apartment at 950 Fifth Avenue. Mr. Kozlowski pays $18 million for the 10th- and 11th-floor duplex. Later, when Mr. Kozlowski gets indicted for fleecing his company out of $650 million, questions arise as to whether Mr. Kozlowski or Tyco actually owns the apartment.

April – Three years after they were secretly married at a Lower East Side synagogue, New York darlings Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker buy a quintessential West Village townhouse. They pay around $3 million for the three-story, 20-foot-wide building.

November – Libbet Johnson, an heir of the Johnson & Johnson family, puts a price tag of $62 million on the five contiguous apartments she owns at Trump International Hotel and Tower at 1 Central Park West. It’s the highest-ever asking price for a piece of residential Manhattan real estate. Ms. Johnson was in the middle of combining the apartments, more than 20,000 square feet spread over the 49th, 50th and 51st floors, when she fell in love with celebrity hairdresser Frédéric Fekkai, who convinced her to seek out more modest-or cozy-dwellings.

Reversal of Fortune Steinberg Woes Yield Manhattan’s Record $37 M. Sale

In March of 2000, financier Stephen Schwarzman paid $37 million for the 34-room triplex penthouse at 740 Park Avenue that was originally built for John D. Rockefeller Jr. Mr. Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group L.P., one of the world’s largest private-equity groups, bought the 20,000-square-foot mansion from Saul Steinberg, chairman of the Reliance Insurance Company. Mr. Steinberg and his wife Gayfryd had held court in the Rosario Candela–designed mansion since 1971, when they reportedly bought the place for $285,000. But by the time Mr. Schwarzman took over the deed, Mr. Steinberg’s Reliance was nearly insolvent, and he was under assault by creditors, in dire need of cash. The Park Avenue spread includes a 60-foot-long entrance gallery; a library with 1760 English pine paneling; a dining room that seats 48; an enormous kitchen; a drawing room leading onto a terrace guarded by a Romanesque lion; five master bedrooms; a study; two sitting rooms; a governess’ suite with two bedrooms and a small kitchen; servants’ quarters that include a dining room, three bedrooms and two bathrooms; a steam room; a gym; a sauna; and a billiards room and screening room.

2001

March – Jean-Marie Messier, the chairman of Vivendi Universal, buys a $17.5 million condo at 515 Park Avenue, proving that he’s officially become a player in New York. The 5,300-square-foot duplex was previously owned by Sidney Kimmel, chairman of the Jones Apparel Group, who sold the apartment-for a $2.5 million profit-without ever moving in.

August – Alexandra von Furstenberg joins her sisters, Pia Getty and Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, as the owner of an Upper East Side townhouse. Ms. von Furstenberg and her husband, Alexander von Furstenberg, pay $12 million deal for an 8,500-square-foot former headquarters of the New York Board of Rabbis at 10 East 73rd Street, right off Fifth Avenue.

2002

January – Harrison Ford, who says he’s most comfortable on his ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo., buys a 5,000-square-foot penthouse near Sixth Avenue in Chelsea (it was asking $6.25 million) and files plans to add a 3,500-square-foot roof deck.

April – A busy month! After years of frustration, Barbra Streisand finally unloads her duplex penthouse at the Ardsley, 320 Central Park West, to the tune of $4 million. It was originally asking $10 million, but after the co-op board turned down several interested buyers-most memorably, Mariah Carey-Ms. Streisand reportedly got so fed up that she considered donating the property to charity. That same month, Sopranos stars James Gandolfini and Edie Falco both buy property in the far West Village. Mr. Gandolfini pays just over $1 million for a 1,367-square-foot condo at 99 Jane Street, just three days before he filed for divorce from his wife, Marcy. Ms. Falco buys a townhouse at 97 Barrow Street, between Hudson and Greenwich streets, for $2.55 million. Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols buy Robert Redford’s eight-room apartment at 1030 Fifth Avenue. No moving trucks are required; Mr. Redford lives a few floors away from Ms. Sawyer and Mr. Nichols in the same building. They pay a bit under $10 million for the duplex penthouse. The reason for their move: They like Mr. Redford’s terrace.

June – Mike Tyson puts in a bid on one of the Upper East Side’s most lavishly decorated townhouses. The rococo-style residence on East 64th Street belongs to an Austrian developer who spent seven years transforming it into what one broker called “a little Versailles.” The townhouse has an eight-person Jacuzzi surrounded by a tile mosaic reminiscent of the Pompeian baths. Mr. Tyson, who is deeply in debt, subsequently backs out of the bidding when he loses his title fight to Lennox Lewis.

September – Edison School founder Chris Whittle puts his legendary East Hampton estate on Georgica Pond on the market for $46 million. The announcement of the sale comes less than a week after Nasdaq threatened to de-list the embattled Edison School stock. Late in September, two years after selling his East Hampton beachfront home to Jerry Seinfeld for a record $32 million, Billy Joel completes his well-publicized house hunt with the purchase of a $12 million waterfront home in his hometown of Oyster Bay, Long Island. “Billy Joel’s real estate-I need a separate career just for that,” Mr. Joel’s publicist jokes.

November – Sony music chief Tommy Mottola buys the East 85th Street duplex penthouse that belongs to Mark Swartz, Tyco’s ex–chief financial officer, whom the government previously indicted for conspiring with Tyco’s ex–chief executive, Dennis Kozlowski, to fleece the company for over $650 million. With his assets frozen by the Manhattan D.A.’s office, Mr. Swartz can liquidate the apartment, but he can’t pocket the proceeds-somewhere around $15.9 million. As is also the case with Mr. Kozlowski’s place at 950 Fifth Avenue, Tyco claims ownership of the apartment.

The Nine-Figure ‘Middle Class’

“If you had less than $100 million, you’d be considered poor,” said Larry Kaiser, president of Key Ventures Realty, of the rarefied air of 960 Fifth Avenue, which wins the Manhattan Transfers award for most exclusive co-op building in the city. Mr. Kaiser, who has sold several apartments in the building, mused: “You’d have to be the sun, the moon and the stars to get in.”

Built in 1927 by celebrated luxury-apartment architect Rosario Candela, 960 Fifth Avenue occupies that stratospheric niche of the so-called “A-plus level,” über -exclusive Upper East Side co-ops. It’s probably impossible to get a consensus on the issue, but most brokers agree that 960 Fifth just barely nudges out peer buildings like 820 and 834 Fifth, and 720 and 740 Park, as the city’s most exclusive address. The 19 apartments at 960 Fifth-most of which have different layouts-are basically mansions stacked atop one another. The unit belonging to socialite Anne Bass, for example, approaches 10,000 square feet.

“Some of the apartments have ballroom-sized proportions,” said Kirk Henckels, director of Stribling Private Brokerage.

Between 77th and 78th streets along a leafy park block, the co-op has a private restaurant open only to tenants-and the chef trains in Paris each summer to pick up the latest culinary trends.

“You add in an exercise room that boasts a terrace with Central Park views-how could you possibly top that?” Mr. Henckels said.

Sales in the building, which are rare, have in recent years topped $10,000,000. Current and past residents include Edgar Bronfman Sr., George Cisneros, Bob Elsworth and Richard Feigen, and Claus von Bülow.