Billionaire Karen Pritzker, heiress to the Hyatt hotel fortune, has expensive lodging tastes. According to city records, she paid $12.5 million this month for the lordly and infamous two-bedroom duplex penthouse at the Carlyle Hotel.
“We acquired an apartment. It’s a lovely apartment,” said her husband, the investor Michael Vlock. “We got it at a price that’s right for us.”
That price tag was a relative bargain: The penthouse was first listed in March 2006 for $17.5 million, before a $2.6 million markdown in May.
“In which case, we’re wonderfully smart,” Mr. Vlock said—proving that couples worth around $1.7 billion can still appreciate a pleasant haggle.
The estate of Leslie Turchin, who founded Tops Appliance City, was the seller. But earlier tenants are better known: According to the new book High Rise Low Down, the penthouse is known as the “J.F.K. Suite” in honor of the President who hosted Marilyn Monroe there.
Car man Henry Ford II (“Hank the Deuce”) and I-banker god Henry Kravis reportedly came afterward. “I honestly wasn’t even aware of that,” said Mr. Vlock, when told about the olden days. “The celebrity whatever”—celebrity allure, he meant—“didn’t figure into our decision-making process.
Did the maintenance fees figure in? Horrifically, the monthly bill is $34,200, the price of a new BMW sedan.
Listing brokers Leila Stone and Reginald Fairchild didn’t return a call to Sotheby’s International Realty. And Turchin’s widow, Sharyn Bey Turchin, didn’t return calls to her apartment at a Fort Lauderdale condominium named—seriously—Le Club.
According to the listing, she renovated the apartment’s “two extraordinarily appointed bedrooms” and “two and one half onyx/marble baths.” There’s also a solarium and open terrace—photographs show the penthouse’s monarchic city and Central Park views from its perch in the hotel at 76th Street and Madison Avenue.
Those perks aside, it’s odd that Ms. Pritzker and her husband didn’t pick a suite at a family hotel like the midtown Grand Hyatt. After all, they don’t own the Carlyle.
Nevertheless, it will be the couple’s first hotel home. “It’s a wonderful place. We’re happy to be there, happy it all worked out and eager to be in the city,” Mr. Vlock said. “That’s the whole story—honest.”
Martha’s Daughter Pays $16 M. For Another Two at 165 Charles
Alexis Stewart may have briefly lost her mother to the federal penal system, but she’s since been recompensed with copious name-brand waterfront real estate. According to city records, she’s paid $16 million for her fourth and fifth apartments at Richard Meier’s crystalline 165 Charles Street condo.
Last September, she bought a $19,119,000 three-unit spread in the building, one of Mr. Meier’s trio of Hudson River towers. (Mom Martha was a first buyer at next-door Perry Street.)
The younger Ms. Stewart’s new apartments, which separately cost $8.32 million and $7.68 million, take up the 15th floor. Together, they’ll combine into a 4,897-square-foot apartment, with dual balconies and five bedrooms.
Ms. Stewart will be one floor below her seller, the art-magazine (and classified-ad) baroness Louise T. Blouin MacBain. Ms. MacBain bought her Charles Street penthouse for $20 million, spent $15,152,800 on the apartments below (the ones Ms. Stewart just bought), and reportedly owns houses in Southampton and London that are each worth over $50 million.
Pity Ms. MacBain! The Observer has called her “an ambassador from an alien land populated with smarter, taller and richer blond bombshells.”
According to the Corcoran listing, her old 15th-floor combo was the “apotheosis of living as art.” The description gets more poetic: “A palette both cool and sleek swaths the elegant, sparse lines within the individual rooms, replicated throughout the holistic thesis.” Martha would be proud.
Holism aside, the floor-through will have an impossibly pretty panoramic view. On the downside, it isn’t clear from the floor plans if the place is contiguous with Ms. Stewart’s earlier units at the building.
According to a source with knowledge of the deal, Ms. Stewart won’t be using Mr. Meier’s insider architectural know-how. Her renovator, the source said, is Urban Glass House interior architect Annabel le Selldorf.
Old Bush Pal Buys Park Avenue Penthouse for $6.17 M.
Digging for Texas tea isn’t the most laudable vocation, but it’s a surefire way to get a triplex penthouse on Park Avenue. Alan Quasha, board chairman of President George W. Bush’s old oil firm, Harken Energy, has paid $6.175 million for a 14th-floor apartment at 580 Park Avenue.
According to deed records, the seller is Susan Uris Halpern—whose dad was the Manhattan skyscraper developer and big-time philanthropist Harold Uris.
Conveniently, the apartment is below the top-tier duplex that Mr. Quasha bought two years ago for $8 million. So a triplex awaits. “It’s going to be a spectacular apartment when he does the final combination,” said Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Joel Bross, who represented buyer and seller.
The living room at the west end of the apartment looks onto Central Park through a plush picture window. There are other Park Avenue niceties: The old owner made two bedrooms into one and even combined a pair of maids’ rooms.
Mr. Quasha is probably the kind of man who likes double-sized space for the help. He’s a longtime director of extra-fancy Richemont (which owns Cartier and Chloé) and a chairman of the Harken board since 2003.
He was also at the energy firm’s helm from 1983 until 1991, when Time called Harken “surely one of the most mysterious and eccentric outfits ever to drill for oil.”
It’s also one of the best-connected: Mr. Quasha acquired Mr. Bush’s money-losing Texas operation Spectrum 7 Energy in the mid-80’s and attracted other V.I.P. partners, like George Soros and the Harvard endowment fund.
“He’s a wonderful fellow,” Mr. Bross said about his client at the block-wide building. “He’s delightful and very easy to work with.” Indeed, the apartment was listed for $5.895 million, which means that Mr. Bross put in a delightfully high offer.
Gypsy Rocker Ceases Wandering, Buys Philip Johnson Condo with Island Kitchen
Who knew playing in a local Gypsy-punk cabaret-rock band could yield a high-floor, high-modernist luxury condo? Eliot Ferguson, a drummer and songwriter for Gogol Bordello, has bought a new $2.65 million apartment at Philip Johnson’s Urban Glass House on Spring Street.
Mr. Ferguson will live in un-Gypsy-like conditions. According to the floor plan, his 1,722-square-foot apartment has an enormous open “living/entertaining space” with an island kitchen on the south side.
Then there are two bedrooms, a home office, two bathrooms and a powder room. Hip Manhattan musicians adore home offices, and they adore powder rooms.
On the city deed, Mr. Ferguson’s address is listed at a Washington Street building he bought with his brother in 2000. It houses their chic Integrated Studios, the audio/video production facility where Gogol Bordello (plus Jay-Z and Iggy Pop) have recorded.
The Urban Glass House, a few blocks north, is even more chic. The condo has been marketed as the late Philip Johnson’s final residential project—although Neue Galerie designer Annabelle Selldorf finished the job.
Maybe Mr. Ferguson won’t fit in among the black absolute granite and French white-oak floors and Kota blue limestone. Ms. Selldorf even says in marketing materials that she wanted the condo “to make sense for people with children.”
Gogol Bordello’s 2005 album Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike is the kind of music that stirs up the desire to throw stones, even if they come from the heated floors of a family-friendly glass condo.
“In the world of rapidly dissolving authentic cultures,” says the band’s MySpace page, “soul-searching through the music is something that connects you with the most authentic thing there isyour [sic] savage heart.”