Big Deal

One of the most exclusive apartments in Manhattan will soon hit the market—and brokers are waiting with bated breath for what they think will be Manhattan’s next record-breaking sale.

The opulent co-op of the late Laurance Rockefeller at 834 Fifth Avenue, one of the city’s poshest buildings, is about to be listed, according to real-estate sources familiar with the property. And when it does land on the market—at perhaps $40-plus million—sources say it could set a Manhattan co-op price record.

That distinction has belonged to Rockefeller properties before: Financier Stephen Schwarzman paid $37 million for Saul Steinberg’s triplex penthouse at 740 Park Avenue in March 2000; that apartment had once belonged to John D. Rockefeller Jr.

But Mr. Schwarzman was later outdone by London-based financier and Mexico native David Martinez, who paid a record $45 million for the 12,544-square-foot duplex penthouse at the Time Warner Center in July 2003.

“The Rockefeller triplex is one of the finest apartments in the entire city—it could definitely set an all-time price record,” said one broker who trades in top-end Upper East Side properties. According to sources, a select coterie of Manhattan’s top real-estate brokers are waiting for the Rockefeller estate to officially list the property. The building, which counts Alfred Taubman and John Gutfreund as residents, is managed by Brown Harris Stevens. Some sources said that Brown Harris broker Mary Rutherfurd may be the lucky agent to get the listing. Ms. Rutherfurd was not available for comment by press time.

“We’re all holding our breath and waiting for this listing,” one broker said.

The Rockefeller property, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street, is a triplex occupying the 14th through 16th floors, and has four bedrooms, six bathrooms, a massive reception hall with terraces facing out over Fifth Avenue and beyond to Central Park, a library, a solarium, a living room with a wood-burning fireplace, and a conservatory.

“Every hedgy is going to come running for this apartment,” said one broker familiar with the property. “The most striking thing is all the outdoor space—you could do some serious entertaining here.”

Rockefeller, the celebrated conservationist and middle grandson of John D. Rockefeller, died in July at age 94. A prominent—and private—philanthropist, he had a successful career on Wall Street and also donated generously to environmental causes, recreation and medical research focusing on cancer treatment. Throughout his long and storied career, the Princeton philosophy graduate pursued diverse business interests, ranging from the founding of Eastern Airlines in the 1930’s to more recent investments in the computer companies Intel and Apple. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1991, mainly for his conservation work: He’d preserved thousands of acres of open space from California to Maine and practically everywhere in between.

Along with his Fifth Avenue spread, he owned many large houses, a plane, a Bentley and a 65-foot speedboat.

Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria recently purchased an Upper West Side townhouse, according to city transfer records. In June, Mr. Zakaria and his wife, Paula Throckmorton Zakaria, purchased the four-story house in the heart of Manhattan’s intellectual enclave—just steps from Columbia University—on West 102nd Street, between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive, for $3.4 million.

The 20-foot-wide residence was listed as being sold by the owners, Kara Grail and Victor Yurkovsky, and first hit the market in November 2002 for $3.5 million. Mr. Zakaria went to contract on the property in May 2004 for $3.4 million, before the deal closed in June.

Mr. Zakaria couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.

The 19th-century home, built by the renowned architect Clarence True, covers 5,000 square feet and has a private outdoor garden and indoor details that include an original mantel over the wood-burning fireplace.

Mr. Zakaria, along with his wife, a jewelry designer and occasional writer for The Wall Street Journal, now join a number of Upper West Side media mavens populating the leafy blocks flanking Central Park, including NBC anchor Ann Curry and New Yorker film critic David Denby.

Mr. Zakaria, in addition to helming Newsweek International, which has a worldwide readership of 3.5 million, is one of the more visible foreign-policy pundits making the rounds of the network news programs and the op-ed pages of newspapers and magazines. In April 2003, W.W. Norton published his most recent book, The Future of Freedom; he has also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker and was the wine columnist for Slate.

Mr. Zakaria was born in India and earned an undergraduate degree in history from Yale and a Ph.D. in international relations from Harvard. In 1992, at age 28, he became the managing editor of Foreign Affairs magazine; more recently, during the run-up to the war in Iraq, he was in the liberal-hawk punditry corps (along with such luminaries as Thomas Friedman and Kenneth Pollack) that supported the Bush administration’s invasion plan but then turned against the fiasco once Saddam was toppled and the insurgency began. “All the big mistakes were made in the first three or four months, when the administration didn’t send in enough troops and spurned international cooperation,” Mr. Zakaria said in The Times back in May. He went on to note that he had since developed a lot of respect for “the realist conservatives,” who—presciently—had opined that the invasion would open up a “hornet’s nest.”

Recent Transactions in the Real Estate Market

Upper East Side

120 East 81st Street

One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $679,500. Selling: $702,700.

Maintenance: $1,108; 55 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one week.

MIDLIFE CRUISES This banking executive was nearing her 50th birthday, and she was looking for a way to mark the occasion. Forget a day at Bliss or dinner at Spice Market—how about a new co-op? Having done time in an east midtown rental, she found this apartment on the southwest corner of Lexington Avenue and 81st Street with a walk-in kitchen, new windows and a doorman out front, and put down a bid more than $20,000 over the asking price. She then jetted off to Bermuda to celebrate the birthday—where her broker, Wendy Sarasohn of the Corcoran Group, phoned her with the news that she had the winning bid. “Talk about a nice birthday present, right?” Ms. Sarasohn said. Rhea Stein, also of the Corcoran Group, represented the seller.

200 East 69th Street

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

Asking: $2.77 million. Selling: $2.66 million.

Charges: $2,263. Taxes: $26,400.

Time on the market: four months.

BIG DEAL II Riding on the cusp of one of the biggest real-estate booms in recent Manhattan history, this deal-minded couple—he’s an investment attorney, she’s a lawyer—decided that it was time to cash out on their eight-figure two-bedroom on the corner of 69th Street and Third Avenue. The thirtysomethings found a divorced doctor looking for an Upper East Side pied-à-terre (he owns a place in Melville, Long Island) and are now ensconced in a place at the Trump World Tower. “He mainly wanted the views, and he was looking for space,” exclusive broker Florence Sommer, of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy, said of the buyer’s motivations. In addition to 2,000 square feet of space, the gentleman got two balconies, a modern kitchen and views of the midtown skyline.