David Bowie, the grandfather of glam-rock, and his wife, the supermodel Iman, have bought a 64-acre mountain in a secluded area outside the onetime rock mecca of Woodstock, N.Y. Iman and Mr. Bowie fell in love with the property, known as Little Tonche Mountain, when he laid down the tracks for his latest album, Heathen , at a recording studio that sits atop the larger mountain next-door in the summer of 2001.
But it may be a while before they can turn Little Tonche Mountain into a retreat from the city. There are currently no buildings on the giant wooded property, and they have yet to file a plan to build a house on the land. Representatives for Mr. Bowie declined to comment on his plans.
The couple closed in late January, paying $1,162,500 for the vacant tract of land in Shokan, a hamlet neighboring Woodstock in the Catskills.
The mountain is next-door to Allaire Studios, a newly constructed studio on the grounds of a sprawling estate that an industrialist built for his family in the mid-1920′s on Tonche Mountain, Little Tonche’s larger sibling. Norah Jones, Joan Baez and Natalie Merchant have also recently recorded songs there.
While promoting the critically praised Heathen last summer, Mr. Bowie spoke at length about his experiences at the mountainous retreat-and in the town of Woodstock. They didn’t fare equally well.
“I went into Woodstock once, and I hated it; it was just too cute for words,” he told Interview in June 2002. “This is not cute, on top of this mountain: It’s stark, and it has a Spartan quality about it. In this instance, the retreat atmosphere honed my thoughts …. I’ve written in the mountains before, but never with such gravitas.”
According to the broker who had the exclusive on Little Tonche Mountain, Mr. Bowie and Iman owe their purchase to a matter of extremely lucky timing. The broker, Jim Boyd of Westwood Metes & Bounds Realty, said that the couple’s broker-who didn’t return calls for comment-had been working with Iman for some time to find a suitable plot of land in the general area.
“She was looking for a property that didn’t exist,” he said.
So when Mr. Boyd brought Little Tonche to the market in September 2002-the very same mountain range that had inspired Mr. Bowie to new creative heights-Iman’s broker pounced.
“We had an offer within a week,” said Mr. Boyd.
Mr. Bowie signed the contract under his birth name, David Jones. Mr. Boyd said he never met Mr. Bowie or Iman in the course of the sale, and thus had no inkling about their plans for the mountain.
Nor did the man whom Mr. Bowie’s lawyer hired to survey the area.
“I assume at some point he’ll build a home, but as of yet I don’t know of any definite plans,” said Bruce LaMonda, a professional surveyor who has lived at the foot of the Tonche mountains for over 30 years. Mr. LaMonda added that Mr. Bowie has “a fantastic view of just about everything in the area” from atop Little Tonche.
Until recently, both the smaller and larger Tonche mountains were privately owned by descendants of the industrialist Raymond Pitcairn. In the mid-1920′s, Pitcairn built what he called Glen Tonche, the mountaintop estate on the larger mountain. In 2001, a photographer and musician named Randall Wallace and his wife Jackie established Allaire Studios on part of the estate. The main studio room there has soaring, 40-foot-plus ceilings and sweeping views of the nearby Ashokan reservoir.
TOM CLANCY BUILDS $1 M. MARTHA’S VINEYARD HAVEN
Tom Clancy has just laid the foundation for a new house on Martha’s Vineyard. The blockbuster author is erecting a five-bedroom Victorian-style dwelling in Oak Bluffs, a traditionally African-American section of the island.
Mr. Clancy couldn’t be reached for comment, but according to city records, the construction costs will run an estimated $1 million.
Mr. Clancy picked up the vacant plot of land in 1999 for $1 in an interfamily transaction with his father-in-law, J. Bruce Llewellyn, the chief executive of the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company and one of the wealthiest African-American businessmen in the country, as well as a first cousin of Secretary of State Colin Powell. Mr. Clancy married former television reporter Alexandra Llewellyn, Mr. Llewellyn’s daughter, four years ago.
The town of Oak Bluffs has been a vacation destination for African-Americans for over 100 years, and has recently been the summertime residence of filmmaker Spike Lee and former Clinton Presidential aide Vernon Jordan.
Most of the residences in Mr. Clancy’s neighborhood are original Victorian houses built in the early to late 1800′s-a style that Mr. Clancy is mimicking in his design.
The perennial best-selling author already owns a 416-acre estate overlooking Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, and in May of 2002 he bought a $2.685 million penthouse condo in Manhattan, at the Promenade on East 76th Street. The house he’s building in Oak Bluffs stands on a relatively modest lot, approximately a quarter of an acre in size. But the house will not be short on amenities: The plans call for five bathrooms and a library.
Sari Budrow, Oak Bluff’s administrator of building and zoning, said that Mr. Clancy’s builders sought and received a variance to install a septic system on the property to guard against the possibility of causing his neighbors drainage problems.
The house is buffered from those of his neighbors by a stand of oak and cedar trees, Ms. Budrow said.
“Mr. Clancy’s place is placed across from a nice park, and … they placed the house so they would have an ocean view.”
Mr. Clancy’s new summer home may provide some respite from the continuing storm of his divorce from former wife Wanda King, to whom he was married for almost 30 years before their 1999 divorce. Ms. King is presently suing Mr. Clancy for control of Op-Center , a lucrative paperback book series they own together. According to court papers reviewed by The Washington Post in the Calvert County Circuit Court, Mr. Clancy made $47 million last year.
The Op-Center series was co-created by Mr. Clancy and Steve R. Pieczenik and is co-written by Mr. Pieczenik and Jeff Rovin. The current book in the series, Sea of Fire , is No. 5 on the New York Times best-seller list.
RECENT TRANSACTIONS IN THE REAL ESTATE MARKET
UPPER EAST SIDE
420 East 72nd Street
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom coop.
Asking: $699,000. Selling: $650,000.
Taxes and charges: $1,368.61.
Time on the market: four months.
MY DOORMAN, MY SALESMAN The doorman, generally an amenity of a luxury building, can on rare occasions become a vital asset. This was certainly true for the Scharmas, two married doctors, in their most recent purchase. After almost a year of perusing dim, narrow, cramped or just generally irregular Upper East Side apartments, the couple-both working long hours at New York Hospital in the upper 60′s and looking to make home close to work-made a surprising find. They had initially paid a visit to 420 East 72nd Street to inspect a small apartment-but deciding that it was unmanageably tiny, headed out without placing an offer. “As we were leaving, I asked the doorman, ‘Are there any other apartments in the building?’” said Carole Cusa of Charles H. Greenthal & Co., the Scharmas’ broker. The doorman then mentioned that a 14th-floor apartment was on the market. Ms. Cusa recognized the place from an open house months before and brushed it off, telling the doorman that the price was far too high. The Scharmas, she said, were looking to spend about half a million. The doorman persisted, pulling out a floor plan and a new write-up that listed the apartment at its new asking price-which, according to listings agent Barbara Risenbach of Treetop Homes, was “dramatically reduced” from the original one. The Scharmas were persuaded to see it, even though it was still a bit out of their intended range, and were soon asking Ms. Cusa to start the paperwork. “I whispered to [Ms. Risenbach], ‘Is it negotiable?’” Ms. Cusa recalled. “And she said, ‘Well, make an offer.’” Ms. Cusa then took the Scharmas downstairs and encouraged them to bid. After brief negotiations, they settled on a price, which landed them in their new place-unrenovated, but otherwise, Ms. Cusa said, their ideal.
UPPER WEST SIDE
392 Central Park West
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo.
Asking: $975,000. Selling: $950,000.
Charges: $653. Taxes: $256.
Time on the market: 120 days.
CENTRAL PARK TEST Central Park West is a desirable address by any stretch of the imagination, and this is true even for buildings that are considerably further north than traditionally exclusive addresses like the Dakota. Consider the recent sale of this condominium apartment in the architecturally uninspired structures at 99th Street across from Central Park. The building was a product of Robert Moses’ slum-clearing projects of the late 1950′s, in a location that now may seem unlikely for the northern periphery of Central Park West’s chicest stretch. Perhaps it was the high street number, but the couple that came to see this two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,600-square-foot condo were surprised by the asking price: just under a million dollars for the place. Corcoran broker Gene Martinez, who represented the buyers in the deal, said the initially reticent couple-who had deliberately chosen a condo over a co-op to avoid divulging all their financial and personal minutiae to a picky board-were then further surprised by a scrupulous investigation into their qualifications for a $950,000 bid. After putting down a deposit on the place, “it took them a very long time to step up to the plate and pull the trigger,” Mr. Martinez said. “And let me tell you, they were almost nauseous at the closing.” Liz Pisanchik, also of the Corcoran Group, had the exclusive.
86-88 Louse Point Road
Four-bedroom, four-bathroom house with guest cottage.
Asking: $3.5 million.
Selling: $3.2 million.
Time on the market: five months.
WATER, WATER EV’RYWHERE Their kids all grown up, with no one left to fill the old Hamptons house, a couple of Manhattan professionals decided they wanted a change of scenery. So they put the old place in the estate section of Southampton on the market-at a mere $5.95 million-and packed their bags for an East Hampton, that is. On a waterfront bluff. After seeing only two other properties, they fell in love with this 4,000-square-foot home on Louse Point because of the expansive views on both sides of the property, overlooking Gardiner’s Bay and Accabonac Harbor. “It was time for a major change,” said Lisa Bass, the buyers’ broker at Sotheby’s. “Being there right on the water, with the sunrises and the sunsets-it’s quite spectacular.” And although this house “broke the price barrier in the area,” according to listings co-broker Kathy Konzet (also of Sotheby’s), it was an old-fashioned deal for an old-fashioned home. The sellers-who, after more than 25 years in East Hampton, will be making the trek to Maine for summers and weekends-got a higher offer, but decided to follow through with the first bidder. The house, built around 1900, benefited from the freedoms of the pre-zoning age: Nowadays, it couldn’t be constructed so close to the shore, and the guest cottage would be illegal. (The original owners of the property-the famed Woodhouse family, founding patrons of Guild Hall-used the cottage as a boathouse, from which they carried their canoes down to the harbor.) And it’s a great place to throw a party: The sellers, who once ran a restaurant in Amagansett, had a pizza oven and other amenities installed in the kitchen for all kinds of entertaining-which, according to Ms. Bass, the new owners have already begun to enjoy. Andrew Hart, at Cook Pony Farm, also had the co-exclusive.
STEINBERG DAUGHTER DROPS $4.5 M. ON LILY POND, WHERE UNCLE ROBERT
East Hampton’s “Walk of the Stars,” Lily Pond Lane, just received its newest addition: Laura Steinberg Broumand, daughter of the late insurance mogul Saul Steinberg. Ms. Broumand and her husband, Stafford Roy Broumand, closed in early May on a $4.5 million three-story traditional house.
“It was a many-year search, and we decided on an old house that has potential,” said Mr. Broumand, who is a plastic surgeon in private practice, as well as a staffer at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Lily Pond Lane, which runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean and affords many of its street dwellers-although not the Broumands-with direct ocean access, is home to embattled domestic goddess Martha Stewart, Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman, financier Carl Icahn, entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman and advertising executive Jerry Della Famina. Lily Pond was once also home to Ms. Steinberg Broumand’s uncle, Robert Steinberg, who sold his place to Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz in 1995.
Ms. Steinberg Broumand, who married Mr. Broumand in October of 2001, had previously been married to Loews scion Jonathan Tisch. Their 1988 wedding, a union of two billionaire families, took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur and cost about $3 million. They filed for divorce in 2000.
The Broumands’ new home sits on a 1.1-acre lot and has six bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a library and a partial basement. Mr. Broumand said that this is his first East End purchase, as he’s been renting houses in Springs and Amagansett for “over a decade.”