Manhattan’s rich and famous are once again fighting-and ponying up-to live in the city’s most prestigious addresses. The penthouse apartment at 1 Beacon Court, the much-ballyhooed Cesar Pelli –designed residential tower rising some 50 stories above the Bloomberg L.P. headquarters at 58th Street and Lexington Avenue, has gone to contract for $27 million-$1 million more than the developers were asking for it.
According to real-estate sources close to the deal, a high-flying music executive purchased the penthouse; Allison Singer of the Sunshine Group, which is marketing the building for developer Vornado Realty Trust, wouldn’t confirm that or give the buyer’s name. Curtis Jackson, a broker with Brown Harris Stevens who represented the buyers, declined to comment.
“We were asking $26 million, and we sold it for $27 million,” Ms. Singer told The Observer. “There was a lot of interest in it; we had a number of bids …. I hate to use the word war, but there was a lot of interest and we had multiple offers.”
And why not? Keys to the apartment mean swapping germs in the elevator with the likes of songstress Beyoncé Knowles, NBC anchor Brian William s and Flavio Briatore, the father of Heidi Klum’s daughter (who, according to the New York Post, recently snapped up a 4,500-square-foot apartment there for $11 million).
The signing of the contract at the end of December capped off one of the most lucrative years for high-end brokerages and made the 13-room apartment one of the biggest condo sales of the year (though financier David Martinez, of course, paid nearly twice as much for his $42.25 million penthouse in the south tower of the Time Warner Center in 2003). The full-floor spread has four exposures, with floor-to-ceiling windows which offer sweeping views of the midtown skyline and Central Park.
“There is no other floor space like this in the city, with 8,700 square feet on one floor,” said Brown Harris Stevens broker Kathleen Sloane, who a source familiar with the transaction said represented one of the bidders.
Ms. Sloane declined to comment on whether she was involved in a bid, though she did expound on the penthouse’s merits. “It’s a very symmetrical space,” she said. “It’s among the most dramatic penthouses in Manhattan.”
Along with its wraparound views, the apartment has an interior designed by Jacques Grange with five bedrooms, six and a half bathrooms, 2,000 square feet of terraces and a library.
The recent string of big-ticket sales may be boosting the confidence of Manhattan’s real-estate elite. Around Labor Day, Seagram heir Matthew Bronfman reduced the price on his 25-foot-wide townhouse at 7 East 67th Street by $3 million to $24 million. Last week, the price bumped back up to $30 million.
“The buyers will be the judge of the house,” said Mr. Bronfman’s broker, Sami Hassoumi of Brown Harris Stevens, when reached for comment. “If you’re looking for a house of this caliber with 12,000 to 14,000 square feet, there are only three or four houses to see.”
Mr. Bronfman, the brother of Warner Music chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr., had been renting a place on Park Avenue up until July, but according to Mr. Hassoumi, he recently moved back into his luxurious townhouse now that a full renovation by the celebrated interior designers the M Group is complete. The 14,000-square-foot mansion has six bedrooms and lavish interior details, including double-high maple paneling, a floating staircase, a roof deck and a private rear terrace with an outdoor fireplace.
According to one source, Mr. Bronfman already has multiple bids near or at his $24 million asking price, which spurred him to push the bar higher as the upper echelon of Manhattan’s real-estate market continues to produce major deals.
Mr. Bronfman’s residence now joins a coterie of trophy mansions hovering around the $30 million mark, which also includes include the 25-foot-wide townhouse at 20 East 64th Street that came on the market at $29.5 million, listed by Kirk Henckels of Stribling Private Brokerage and Julie Kammerer and Barbara Kemp of Douglas Elliman. Corcoran’s Deborah Grubman is currently showing the 35-foot-wide Versace townhouse at 5 East 64th Street for $32 million. And perhaps Mr. Bronfman’s brother Edgar will hop on the luxury real-estate express and relist his mansion at 15 East 64th Street for $40 million-the same price he sought when he originally listed the place in 2002.
The estate of Jim Henson recently went to contract on the late puppet master’s East 69th Street neo-Georgian townhouse for close to the $12.4 million asking price, sources close to the deal told The Observer.
Henson died in 1990 at age 53, but his estate only listed the five-story residence, presently configured as offices for the Jim Henson Company, in October 2003, according to Albert Gottesman, the executor of the Henson estate.
“We had a contract out right before the holidays,” said Paul Massey, a founding partner of Massey Knakal Realty Services who is listing the place. Fellow Massey Knakal broker Cory S. Rosenthal also shares the listing.
The 16,000-square-foot mansion where puppet fantasies were hatched was originally built in 1929 for Beekman Winthrop, a prominent New York banker and former Governor of Puerto Rico with family ties tracing back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. On the grounds of Winthrop’s formal gardens in the rear of the townhouse, Henson had constructed a workshop where his puppeteers turned out his whimsical creations. According to Mr. Gottesman, the Henson offices moved to California earlier in 2004. The Jim Henson Foundation maintains an office in New York at 627 Broadway in Noho.
In 1951, the townhouse was converted to offices for the New York State Pharmaceutical Association. The Jim Henson Company purchased the townhouse, on the north side of 69th Street between Park and Lexington avenues, in 1977 for $600,000, city real-estate records show.
Recent Transactions in the Real Estate Market
56 Charles Street Nine-bedroom, six-bathroom townhouse. Asking: $3.75 million. Selling: $4 million. Time on the market: three weeks.
FAMILY STEAD For the past 30 years, this 4,800-square-foot townhouse between Seventh Avenue South and West Fourth Street had been the seat of a prominent New York family. The townhouse had been rented out in recent years, and about two years ago the family decided it was time to release the spread from the clan’s property holdings. The 20-foot-wide townhouse bounced on and off the market until recently, when it was listed at $3.75 million; it sold $250,000 over asking in an all-cash deal to a father and son who plan to renovate the property into a pair of duplexes. The home sits on a 102-foot lot with an 800-square-foot landscaped garden, and has interior touches such as historic tin ceilings and original moldings. Lydia Rosengarten of townhouse brokerage Leslie J. Garfield and Co. represented the sellers, and Douglas Elliman broker George van der Ploeg represented the buyers.
27 N. Moore Street Three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom condo. Asking: $2.29 million. Selling: $2.25 million. Charges $1,015. Taxes: $11,256. Time on the market: five months.
SPACE CASE Square footage has long been the powerful magnet luring apartment hunters south of Canal Street to Tribeca’s cobblestone lanes. Just look at this attorney, who a few years ago passed on a prewar “classic eight” on the Upper West Side the minute she laid eyes on this 2,300-square-foot loft in the Ice House building on 27 N. Moore Street. “She walked in and said, ‘This is it,’” her broker, Rebecca Gantcher of Douglas Elliman, said. Recently, she wanted to find even more space, so she naturally focused her search in Tribeca. She’s now ensconced in a 3,000-plus-square-foot spread on Chambers Street. This happened to be an all-Tribeca deal, as the buyers-an English couple who’d been renting in the neighborhood-leaped at the chance to land an address on the block charmed by the John F. Kennedy Jr. celebrity orbit. (Kennedy had resided at 20 N. Moore Street.) Their new loft at 27 N. Moore Street has private elevator access, 14-foot vaulted ceilings, plank maple floors and a kitchen with Viking and Sub-Zero appliances along with granite counters. Jeff Sidney of Halstead Property represented the buyers.
Upper West Side
206 West 85th Street Three-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op. Asking: $1.3 million. Selling: $1.09 million. Maintenance: $1,010; 50 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: two months.
UPPER WEST TIDE Meanwhile, back on the Upper West Side, many buyers still clamor with Zabar’s-deli-counter-like fervor to score a slice of the leafy nabe. This thirtysomething couple-both finance professionals-ditched their postwar spread for this 1,500-square-foot floor-through apartment on the second floor of a brownstone built at the turn of the 20th century. The sellers recently shipped off to the Connecticut ‘burbs in search of a backyard and more space for their growing clan. The three-bedroom on 85th Street and Amsterdam Avenue has a living room with a grand piano and hardwood floors, oversized windows and a renovated bathroom. Michael O’Reilly and Laurel Gilbride, both of the Corcoran Group, had the exclusive.