Some uptown real-estate investors look the part, with jowls and mohair suits and BlackBerry belt clips. But there are other types too, like svelte hairstylists who have quietly been trading chic apartments around the Upper West Side for decades.
Alain Pinon, who co-owns and co-founded the AKS Salons on Fifth and Madison avenues, has paid $1.585 million for his eighth apartment on the Upper West Side, a two-bedroom penthouse at 310 West 97th Street, near Riverside Drive.
“My hobby basically is contracting and real estate,” said Mr. Pinon, a Paris-born stylist whose haircut clients include Jerry Seinfeld (plus wife). “So I’ve found, since 1994, a wreck, basically, in an area that’s coming around. I usually buy a piece of property there—I’m my own contractor, I use my own materials, hire my own construction crew; then we hold it for a few years and sell it.”
His new penthouse was never quite a wreck: According to listing broker Mary Sheller at Time Equities, four new penthouses with floor-to-ceiling windows were just built atop the prewar building.
But Mr. Pinon said he won’t stay for longer than five years. He’s already flipped three apartments around Columbus Avenue between 70th and 81st streets—and has rented four other spreads nearby on Central Park West.
Why would a man who has sculpted Kate Moss’ hair for W Magazine’s cover get into real estate? “It’s all about design, especially when you take a wreck, and a lot of people say, ‘Why are you buying this apartment? It looks terrible.’ But you can visualize something—you tear it down and start from scratch. So in a sense it’s what I do, because it’s all about volume and space and different colors.”
After an interview, Mr. Pinon phoned back this reporter to give an example of his realty success: “Also,” he said, “I have a house in East Hampton. That’s from raising capital from these apartments!”