Christopher Buckley, the only child of conservative godhead William F. Buckley, must have known he’d be offending certain sensibilities when he endorsed Barack Obama earlier this month: A slew of foamy e-mails followed; Mr. Buckley’s resignation from his late father’s National Review was offered; the resignation was accepted; life continued.
But, surely, Mr. Buckley had not considered the powers he’d be messing with when he spoke ill of the lofty $24.5 million price tag for his late parents’ famed Park Avenue maisonette apartment. In a big Times profile this Sunday, Mr. Buckley parenthetically offered these three tremendously treasonous words: “absurdly inflated price.”
Catherine Holmes, who is listing the Buckley co-op with her husband, Tom, was in bed in their West End Avenue apartment this weekend, browsing The Times’ Web site on an iPhone while her husband slept. She saw the story.
For one thing, Mr. Buckley should have known that at 778 Park Avenue—Buckley and his socialite wife, Pat, were downstairs; Vera Wang just sold to a Hummer cars heiress; Brooke Astor’s duplex is on the market for $46 million—saying something bad about your family’s listing (even if it’s true) is like insulting a neighbor’s wife’s rhinoplasty. It’s simply not done. Brokers will look foolish. Buyers will be turned off. In an interview this week, Ms. Holmes seemed unthrilled but not furious. “You have to remember, Christopher is a satirist. So you can’t just take something out of context from the article. … He’s not a serious, serious writer.”
But wasn’t Mr. Buckley right? Isn’t $24.5 million too much to be asking for a four-bedroom maisonette, with or without provenance? “We’re no more absurdly inflated than the other apartment in the building or on Park Avenue,” Ms. Holmes said. Later, she conceded that a silly asking price can’t be justified by other silly asking prices.
The tag, which had been set—or at least approved—by Mr. Buckley back when the market was bubbly, is likely to come down shortly. “We’re in the process of considering that,” Mr. Holmes said. The couple didn’t say how much more time they’ve been given to sell the house.
This isn’t the brokers’ first brush with Buckley trouble. In June, they helped throw a memorial party at the co-op; gift bags included Buckley’s favorite peanut butter, but also literature on Ms. Holmes’ staging services and a marketing fact sheet for the apartment. “I felt like we were props in a real estate event,” a National Review editor’s spouse snickered to The Times then. “Someone, I won’t tell you who it is, said, ‘This is to sell the apartment.’ It was a mistake, and I think people realized it,” Ed Koch offered.
Ms. Holmes was taken aback by that June article’s tone, too. This week, she said she was also surprised by young Mr. Buckley’s Obama endorsement: “It seems to be the popular thing to do now.”