The disturbingly handsome couple Robert and Cortney Novogratz has spent the last 12 years buying rundown houses, renovating them in a style they call “vintage nouveauxx,” and then selling them for disturbingly massive profits.
Last week, their house at 5 Centre Market Place, which they purchased in June 2004 for $1,512,000, hit the market for $18 million, well over 10 times what they paid less than four years ago. The brokers are Corcoran’s Cornelia Dobrovolsky and Wendy Sarasohn.
“Is it high? For sure,” said Mr. Novogratz. “But it’s once in a lifetime to get on a block like this.”
Actually, he and his wife have owned four houses on Centre Market Place, a slim stretch below Broome Street on the western edge of Little Italy, next to the mammoth Police Building. They paid a reported total of $5.3 million for 5 Centre and three of its neighbors (they tried to buy a fourth, but the owner wouldn’t sell) back before the couple helped make the block into a row of insanely pristine townhouses.
They flipped one to a bachelor investor named Brad Zipper, building him a custom walk-in stainless steel wine refrigerator. Mr. Novogratz said Mr. Zipper paid around $5 million in cash for the house before its renovation was finished—“pretty ballsy.”
According to city records, they sold the other two houses on the block for just $2.1 and $2.6 million in 2005, although the Novogratzs’ company—Sixx Design, named for their six cherubic kiddies—didn’t do much interior work on them, and they’re much smaller.
But 5 Centre, a former gun shop, was given an outdoor basketball court encased in a steel mesh dome built in Switzerland. If you walk down the white oak-and-steel staircase—made in Belgium—you’ll get to the kitchen, where the back wall is a retractable glass door. “It’s very clean,” Mr. Novogratz said.
On the downside, what Mr. Novogratz called “a super-high-end art collection” doesn’t come with the house. The art’s there because the family happens to live in 5 Centre, though they’ll move out to their new project on the West Side Highway when a buyer moves in. “We were offered $100,000 rent for it last summer by one of the top two or three actors in the world,” he said. “It was funny, he flew here twice and we turned him down.”
Mr. Novogratz’s six kids wouldn’t have been sad to leave. “They’re not moving from a big house to a small house; they’re moving from a big house with a basketball court to a big house, probably with a basketball court.”
He said his wife was in the shower and couldn’t comment.
What’s their work relationship like? “It depends on the day you ask me. Actually, we get on very well. We have our fights. But we get over them in a second.”
Either way, Rizzoli is putting out a book on them next April. “It’s going to be kick-ass,” Mr. Novogratz said. He used the same phrase to describe a boutique hotel on the Jersey Shore they’re designing.