The 101-year-old mansion at 47 East 68th Street has been sold for a bargain $19 million to Carlos Alejandro Pérez Dávila. The managing director of the finance firm Quadrant Capital Advisors is also a director at the beer brewery SABMiller (as in the classy, golden Miller Genuine Draft).
If $19 million doesn’t sound like a bargain, consider that the townhouse was listed last spring for $26.8 million, before being reduced to $24 million. It was at that asking price that the seller, Dr. Samuel Mandel, accepted the 43-year-old Mr. Pérez Dávila’s offer, giving him more than a 20 percent discount on the six-floor townhouse with 20 rooms and half as many fireplaces.
Dr. Mandel, who had owned the house for 24 years, had retired from his dermatology practice, which was located in the mansion’s ground floor and basement. When the offices were open, he and wife Annette lived in an owner’s triplex above, and rented out a duplex penthouse with two terraces. For the last nine years, though, Dr. Mandel had leased the ground floor to the gallerist Keith de Lellis, who specialized in vintage photography; last year he vacated the space.
“The whole house is going to be totally renovated, top to bottom, by whoever bought it, into a single-family,” said the listing broker, Prudential Douglas Elliman senior vice president Peter Schwartz. City records and confirmation from a source with knowledge of the deal established Mr. Pérez Dávila as the buyer.
The buyer and his architect didn’t return calls to their offices. As for Dr. and Mrs. Mandel, the sales deed puts their new address in America’s dermatologic Shangri-La—Florida.
Mr. Schwartz said his favorite slice of the house is the 18-foot-high parlor floor, with paneled library and ballroom. “There were wood-burning fireplaces in both—and, you know, the mantels were about six feet high,” said the broker. “Very large fireplaces!”
Almost everything in the 12,000-square-foot house is very large and very old.
The house was designed in 1906 by the architectural firm of Adams & Warren for the Sparrow family; it was praised by the American Institute of Architects for its “bold Italian Renaissance detail.” The A.I.A. calls it the Ruth Hill Beard house for one of its more famous tenants: the daughter of James J. Hill, the railroad baron dubbed the “Empire Builder” in his day, and the widow of tobacco magnate Pierre Lorillard. She later married into the Heidsieck champagne family.
There is little in the “elevator townhouse” that can’t be restored. Drop ceilings in places, for instance, were built with the aim of keeping the original ceiling details intact above them.
“The building wasn’t renovated since 1985—well, the top duplex was renovated,” said Mr. Schwartz.
“It’s going to be gorgeous, I’ll tell you,” he added. “Peter Marino is doing it, I believe, if you know who he is? Probably one of the most celebrated designers in the residential field.”
What will Mr. Marino do with the place? The architect who credits Andy Warhol with giving him his start has worked on projects as historic as the restorations of the Palazzo Sernagiotto in Venice and the Ascott House in England, which is registered with the National Trust, and the Fendi flagship on Fifth Avenue, as well as a Louis Vuitton boutique in Hong Kong, where a solid stone stairway has glass treads with built-in L.E.D. panels that play videos underfoot.
“Whatever was there is insignificant, because it’s all going to be ripped out anyway. The only sure thing is that the rooms are large, the ceilings are high, and there’s very ornate original detail—which will be kept.”
How much does that cost? “I’ve never renovated one of these things,” the broker said. “It depends on how over-the-top you want to be. You can spend as much as you spent on the house.”
Crazy Like a Fuchs
The flipping has already begun at 50 Gramercy Park North. And the developers themselves are leading the charge.
The chic condo development was built in conjunction with the redevelopment of that next-door dowager, the Gramercy Park Hotel, by a development team that included hotelier Ian Schrager and real-estate developers Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs.
Mr. Fuchs, who himself invested in an eighth-floor sponsor unit at 50 Gramercy Park North for $9,062,400, has now put the apartment back on the market with a $5.5 million mark-up.
Mr. Fuchs, who through his partnership with Mr. Rosen in RFR Realty owns the Lever House and the Seagram Building, is asking $14.5 million for the place now; that’s still $1.5 million less than the building’s penthouse is asking, even though Mr. Fuchs’ unit has more square feet.
Corcoran senior vice president Dennis Mangone is listing the full-floor, 4,710-square-foot place, but he would not comment for this story.
According to Mr. Mangone’s listing, the apartment has a 75-foot-long park view, which stretches nearly uninterrupted from the master suite to the dining room to the “great room.”
That great room has 12.4-foot-high ceilings (like the library) and a wood-burning fireplace (like the big bedroom, or the lobby of the Gramercy Park Hotel.)
Better yet, the apartment comes with a key to the menacingly elite neighborhood park.
Wilf Family Sells at Chatham for $7.2 M.
The Wilf family, a formidable New Jersey–based real-estate clan, has sold its nine-room apartment at the Chatham on East 65th Street for $7.2 million.
Orin Wilf, a principal of the family’s development firm Garden Homes, said that the 29th-floor condo belonged to his late grandmother. She passed away last year.
According to city records, the buyers are David George, a former Goldman Sachs senior director and chief financial officer, and his wife Verna. They’re upgrading from an apartment five floors down, which cost $5.35 million in 2003.
The Georges’ new place is loftier.
“It had a beautiful view from the living room of Central Park,” said Mr. Wilf. Plus, the dining room faces the East River, and the master bedroom has park views too.
“I got to be honest with you—I wasn’t looking out the window,” Mr. Wilf said when asked about the vistas. “I was spending time with my grandmother.”
Real-estate family men are good to family! Mr. Wilf said he visited “maybe three or four times a week.”
His grandmother was married to the late Harry Wilf, who co-founded Garden Homes in 1955. His firm developed suburban housing—and lots of shopping centers— eventually expanding into Manhattan, and out west and in Israel, too. (They’re a sporty bunch: Wilfs own the Minnesota Vikings and have a small stake in the Yankees.)
The family bought the 65th Street condo new in 2001, though it isn’t clear from city records how much they paid.
“We chose the Chatham because it was a middle ground between my father’s apartment and my apartment,” Orin said. (His dad is Leonard Wilf, yet another big real-estate man). “We both live on the Upper East Side.”
The Wilfs, despite their suburban roots, know a bit about newfangled condo buildings: They developed 170 East End Avenue.
“You know, we knew that Related was capable of building a good building,” said Mr. Wilf, referring to the Chatham’s developer. “My father had a relationship with Stephen Ross”—the billionaire C.E.O. of Related—“and it was a very nice building.”
In August, Corcoran senior vice president Lauren Muss listed the Chatham apartment. “It’s kind of a Park Avenue condo on Third Avenue,” she said about the building.
Why? “The staff is great, and the ceilings are 10 feet high, and the floors are herringbone.”
“I’ve become the queen of the Chatham,” said Ms. Muss, when asked about her several listings there. She didn’t concoct her title: “Actually, that was Orin’s quote.”