Lachlan Murdoch, News Corp.’s spiky-haired scion and publisher of the New York Post , has sold the Soho loft at 285 Lafayette Street that he recently left while waiting out renovations at his new and eccentric Nolita mansion.
The 32-year-old got $7.5 million for his 3,290-square-foot loft in one of Soho’s most notoriously star-studded addresses, city records show. But the record is murkier when it comes to the buyer’s identity: An entity called Fairway Isle Limited is listed.
Mr. Murdoch’s exodus from 285 Lafayette Street follows on the heels of one of downtown’s most surprising purchases, when the heir to the News Corp. media empire snapped up a 19th-century building on the northeast corner of Elizabeth and Spring streets in Nolita last September. He bought the 14,500-square-foot building at 11 Spring Street, which served as a sort of municipal-lot-style horse stable of yore, for $5.25 million last September, and has since undertaken an extensive renovation to transform the building into a lavish personal residence. The building features an elevator and a 2,375-square-foot basement, and last year drew the prurient eyes of real-estate watchers trying to figure out who had purchased the mysterious six-story building known for the flickering electric candles in each of its dozen windows, which cast an eerie glow across the narrow Nolita streets.
Mr. Murdoch leaves a roster of heavy-hitting neighbors behind at 285 Lafayette, including rocker David Bowie and his wife, Iman, tennis-ace-turned-sportscaster Patrick McEnroe and hotelier Ian Schrager. And when he purchased the stables, he put to rest rumors that were fanned by downtown bloggers Gawker.com and Lockhart Steele that his neighbor, Mr. Schrager, was planning to buy the place.
Mr. Murdoch declined to comment on his downtown real-estate shuffle, though a real-estate source said that Mr. Murdoch and his wife, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Sarah O’Hare, are currently renting a Tribeca loft while construction finishes on their Nolita manse.
Mr. Murdoch’s real-estate investments appear to be as prudent as his acumen in his media career. In 1999, he purchased his Soho loft between Houston and Prince Street for $3.56 million, and in February unloaded the Lafayette Street spread for more than double the price, at $7.5 million. The eighth-floor condo has four bedrooms, a professional kitchen, a master bath with a steam shower and an 1,855-square-foot terrace.
Now that mod hotelier Andre Balazs and modeling czarina Katie Ford have split after 17 years of marriage, the two recently sold one of the prized properties they purchased together. City records show that in January, they unloaded a townhouse at 16 West 12th Street for $4.5 million. In May of 2002, the couple purchased the 25-foot-wide home, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, from Condé Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse and his wife, Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, a founding editor of Details , for $4.2 million. Mr. Balazs and Ms. Ford never occupied the five-story residence, instead deciding on a Wooster Street loft while they listed their West Village spread for $7 million. The property sat on the market since 2002, but, at its reduced asking price, finally closed in January.
Sara Gelbard, a senior vice president with the Corcoran Group, which sold the property, declined to comment. A spokesperson for Mr. Balazs said the hotelier was traveling to Miami and was unavailable for comment.
The West Village sale marks the end of one of the last ties between Ms. Ford and Mr. Balazs, who has since been a busy bachelor: Late last year, the 46-year-old purchased a 4,200-square-foot loft at 583-587 Broadway for $5.75 million. At his new bachelor pad, the creative impresario of the style-hound hotels Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles and the Mercer in Soho has been hosting his new amour , Uma Thurman, who also recently split from Gen-X archetype Ethan Hawke. Ms. Thurman recently purchased a quaint three-story Gramercy townhouse for just north of $5 million.
Former New Yorker associate publisher Chris Mitchell is leaving the magazine, and he’s also leaving Chelsea. On April 30, Mr. Mitchell left for his new post as vice president and publisher of Details and the soon-to-be-released shopping tome Vitals . And in February, Mr. Mitchell and his wife, Pilar Guzman, a senior editor at Real Simple , sold their 136 West 16th Street Chelsea co-op for $965,000 and, with a new member of the family in tow, went in search of more space across the East River.
They recently snapped up a four-story brownstone on Carroll Street in Park Slope. Their new outer-borough spread will be a family affair, as they plan to split the townhouse with Mr. Mitchell’s brother and his wife, who will live in the building’s garden apartment, while Mr. Mitchell and Ms. Guzman will reside in the upstairs duplex.
“We didn’t want to be that couple who had a baby and left Chelsea. But we found a 19th-century townhouse that we just fell in love with,” Mr. Mitchell told The Observer . “It’s in crumbling-estate condition, but we can now totally fix it up. It became increasingly obvious to us that more and more interesting things are happening out there.”
In Chelsea, Mr. Mitchell’s fashionable six-room co-op in the neighborhood’s oldest residential building was the backdrop for his modernist furniture collection of mid-century Danish artists. The 1,400-square-foot home, on 16th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, had a designer kitchen with Miele and Sub-Zero appliances, turn-of-the-century moldings and cathedral ceilings. The building was built in 1883 and had other antique touches, such as Carerra marble stairs, hand-tooled doors and floor-to-ceiling windows.
“It felt like Paris,” said Douglas Elliman senior vice president of luxury sales Darren Sukenik, who sold the spread to two gentleman who were both medical administrators and had been living in a one-bedroom on Lower Fifth Avenue. The apartment was originally asking $899,000 when it hit the market in January, but after multiple bids, the spread closed for nearly 10 percent above the asking price. The spread also carries a $1,017 monthly maintenance.
“They didn’t have to renovate anything; it was in perfect condition,” Mr. Sukenik said.
RECENT TRANSACTIONS IN THE REAL ESTATE MARKET
Upper East Side
229 East 62nd Street
Four-bedroom, five-bathroom townhouse.
Asking: $3.675 million. Selling: $3.6 million.
Time on the market: four months
LONDON CALLING For this manufacturing executive and his architect wife, even a 17-foot-wide Federal townhouse on a tree-lined block between Second and Third avenues (a pipe dream for those of us trapped in a closet well east of Avenue D) was starting to cramp the clan’s style, so they set off with their two small children to land a bigger slice of the island. Two finance professionals-transferred from London with their small child-found the place big enough. “They were transferred from London and wanted a very similar kind of house,” said exclusive broker Martin Cherlin of Key-Ventures Inc. “They wanted to re-create that feel.” The couple snapped up this 3,500-square-foot townhouse, which shares the same block with Martin Scorsese’s place. The renovated red-brick townhouse has a chef’s kitchen with a commercial refrigerator and a six-burner Viking range; other luxuries include heated hardwood floors, six fireplaces, 11-foot ceilings and a private rear garden.
429 Clinton Avenue
Four-and-a-half-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $659,000. Selling: $659,000.
Maintenance: $950; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: one day.
Brooklyn’s the new … whatever You almost can’t pick up a magazine these days without the cover lines blaring “Brooklyn is the new Manhattan!”, or “Manhattan Hipsters Flee City for Outer Borough!” Well, this deal provides more fodder for editors scouting anecdotal evidence on the rapidly gentrifying borough. Recently, a British movie producer and director, who had been living in the East Village near Tompkins Square Park with his wife, decamped to this 2,300-square-foot Clinton Hill co-op now that their first child is on the way. “With a baby on the way, they wanted more space. And they’re smart: The neighborhood is exploding culturally and economically,” said Jerry Minsky, a broker with the Corcoran Group, who sold the spread along with fellow Corcoran broker Merele William-Adkins. The owner, a single mom with two small children, decided to hop across the Atlantic back home to England after living for years in this Clinton Hill co-op working in fashion, designing outfits for numerous Broadway shows. “She wanted to be closer to family,” Mr. Minsky said. The fashionable East Village couple purchased the place-a six-room apartment with hardwood floors, a windowed kitchen, a built-in washer/dryer and south, east and west exposures-in a nearly all-cash deal. “It looked like something you’d find on Riverside Drive,” Mr. Minsky said. “It was one of those buildings where there were no small apartments.” Tracey Davidson, of Struck Realty, represented the buyers.