Why A $33 M. Park Avenue Townhouse Is Like A $5,000 Madison Avenue Dress

031908 townhouse Why A $33 M. Park Avenue Townhouse Is Like A $5,000 Madison Avenue DressIn my Manhattan Tranfers item today on gold watch guru Benny Shabtai’s townhouse at 870 Park Avenue, I tried to figure out why someone who couldn’t sell his house in 2006 for $19.9 million would try selling it now for $33 million.

The Brown Harris managing director John Burger, who isn’t involved with the listing, gave me this explanation for why Upper East Side buyers might actually like the $13.1 million difference: “A $5,000 dress in a window on Madison Avenue is much more interesting to a woman than a $1,000 dress,” he said. “It’s true.”

(There are some other things to consider too, like the fact that the house was designed by Robert A.M. Stern, whose stock is inanely high now thanks to his drooled-over building 15 Central Park West.)

As for Mr. Burger’s theory about ladies’ fashion and real estate, he said that 1920′s co-op architects like Rosario Candela are the vintage couture, and designers like Robert A.M. Stern are the modern. Yet, oddly, in an interview late last year, Mr. Stern told me that Candela isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. “I think he was not the most brilliant designer of the builders,” he said. “I sometimes think he is falsely credited with the exterior expression of the buildings, which he often worked with other architects in collaboration.”