Benny Shabtai, the president and owner of Raymond Weil U.S.A., the U.S. division of venerated Swiss luxury watch brand headquartered in Geneva, has decided to cash out of his opulent townhouse at 870 Park Avenue, which had been remodeled by the famed architect Robert A.M. Stern. On Feb. 25, Mr. Shabtai listed the 11,000-square-foot townhouse, between 77th and 78th streets, for $23 million. The lofty price is well above the $8.2 million Mr. Shabtai paid in late July 2000, when the Israeli-born jewelry executive purchased the storied Park Avenue home from Judith Stern Peck, the ex-wife of Tribeca Grand Hotel owner Leonard Stern.
Mr. Shabtai did not return calls for comment on the listing. Carrie Chiang, a senior vice president of the Corcoran Group who is representing the property, declined to comment on the identity of the seller, but she did speak to the apartment’s luxurious details.
“It has an Art Deco modern design; it’s very contemporary,” Ms. Chiang said. “The interior was completely renovated, and we are awaiting approval to have a roof-deck hot tub installed.”
Ms. Chiang represented Mr. Shabtai when he and his family purchased the six-bedroom house nearly four years ago.
The listing follows close on the heels of Sean (P. Diddy) Combs’ recent townhouse sale at 813 Park Avenue for $15.9 million, making his the second of a very small number of Park Avenue townhouses on the storied street. Given the luxury real-estate market’s continued resurgence, Mr. Shabtai, 54, may be hoping to find a buyer eager to own one of the Upper East Side’s most unique residences-a single-family home along the regal lane of the New York’s moneyed caste. The home, which was built in 1974, was completely renovated in 1976 after the former owners, Ms. Stern Peck and her then husband, Mr. Stern, commissioned Robert A.M. Stern and John S. Hagmann to complete an extensive renovation to the place. After a fire in 1992 severely damaged the property, Ms. Stern hired Costas Kondylis, the renowned condominium architect, to remodel the interior. The property bounced on and off the market throughout the 1990′s, hitting the $10 million mark in April 1998, before Mr. Shabtai negotiated $550,000 off the $8.75 million asking price.
Since then, Mr. Shabtai has built on the home’s prestigious architectural pedigree with an extensive renovation of his own. In addition to the proposed 1,100-square-foot roof deck with a garden, gazebo and hot tub, the four-story townhouse retains the classic façade designed by Mr. Stern, and it now has a living room with 14-foot ceilings featuring a glass wall overlooking Park Avenue, a master bedroom with a spa-style master bath and gas fireplace, a spiral staircase and-if hoofing it to the fourth floor seems a chore-a private elevator. The ground floor of the property includes a 1,150-square-foot professional space that any potential buyer can lease out (it’s currently a doctor’s office), which may help offset the $83,808 in real-estate taxes the new owner will have to pony up.
Still, some brokers with competing firms who are familiar with the property say that although the townhouse is one of the more alluring offerings to hit the fast-paced Upper East Side market this year, the location along Park Avenue, with its attendant traffic, may deter well-heeled buyers: If you’re willing to pay eight figures for a private home, they reason, you might also seek the privacy of leafy side streets.
“People just don’t want that much exposure. For that much money, people would rather have the privacy of a side street,” one broker said.
But in a city where the real-estate market often defies logic, and penthouses trade for $45 million at the Time Warner Center at a time when many real-estate watchers said the $1.7 billion building was overpriced, Mr. Shabtai may just yet find a flush buyer to claim his Park Avenue perch.
On March 2, Meg Ryan’s former neighbors at 420 West Broadway put their 3,400-square-foot raw-space duplex on the market for a Soho-esque $4.95 million. The listing comes after the loft development made headlines in January, when Ms. Ryan reportedly signed contracts to unload her 6,734-square-foot duplex penthouse-which had been asking $9.7 million-following reports that the 42-year-old flaxen-haired actress paid around $4 million for a Greenwich Village apartment.
Ms. Ryan’s former neighbors purchased the loft in October 2001 for $3.725 million and never occupied the space. At press time, the owners’ identity was unclear.
The unfinished loft overlooking Thompson Street is represented by a troika of brokers from Douglas Elliman. Shaun Osher, an executive vice president with Douglas Elliman, was unavailable for comment. Steven Ganz and Tom Postilio both declined to comment.
Like Ms. Ryan’s downtown bachelorette pad, where she moved after her divorce from actor Dennis Quaid in August 2001, the neighboring loft is luxurious even by Soho’s spendy standards, which have attracted well-heeled buyers including Andre Balazs and Lenny Kravitz over the years (Mr. Kravitz’s Crosby Street loft is currently asking $14.95 million). The unfinished 420 West Broadway penthouse has 24-foot ceilings, a pair of spiral staircases, private elevator access and a 2,000-square-foot terrace.
But all this luxury comes at a price: The loft carries $6,161 monthly maintenance charges. Even so, the price may be worth it for someone wanting to reside atop one of Soho’s most chic addresses; 420 West Broadway has gained a reputation among downtown real-estate watchers since it was converted to residential space three years ago. In April 2001, the developer Gregory Manocherian converted the former paper warehouse-which had been front and center in the Soho art scene during the 1980′s, when the Leo Castelli, Andre Emmerich and Ileana Sonnabend all had galleries there-into a luxury co-op that drew the likes of Ms. Ryan, the actress known for her roles in perky romantic comedies (and for getting down with Mark Ruffalo in Jane Campion’s In the Cut ). Today, the building-much like the neighborhood-has left its artistic roots behind for a more commercial slant: The ground floor of the sandstone and brick building is now occupied by the 10,000-square-foot DKNY boutique.