During a week that’s so colossally momentous, what else is there to do but waste time perusing high-end real estate brokers’ Web sites, browsing for newsworthy new listings?
On Monday, this reporter was looking at independent broker Joanna Cutler’s site, where her biography says she “can be found dining with Mariska Hargitay, Maria Bello, or Lisa Marie, hanging out with Naomi Campbell, Carol Alt or Jennifer Aniston.” The site says she owns homes in the Time Warner Center, One Beacon Court and 15 Central Park West; but it was at the Plaza where she made headlines, claiming in February to have been stuck in a garbage room for seven hours, bloodying her hands “trying to claw her way out.” (She was later photographed by the Post holding a Fabergé egg left behind in her apartment.)
Her site listed a $45 million, 15,000-square-foot mansion at 41 East 65th Street: The modernist Edward Durrell Stone apparently did interior work; its exceptionally proportioned dining room is “baronial”; a “celebrity owner does sophisticated entertaining on a very grand scale.”
According to city records, Jane Holzer, once the Warhol star Baby Jane, bought the mansion for $15,772,324 two years ago, but the city’s listings database, nicknamed ROLEX, showed that it wasn’t officially on the market. Ms. Cutler, reached at her office, said it was being listed for sale very quietly.
The Observer asked if her client would give an interview about the mansion. Ms. Cutler said she’d try her and ask. The broker called back right away. She sounded upset. “She didn’t realize it was on my Web site, because it really, truly is not on the market,” Ms. Cutler said. “When I told her, she said, ‘I don’t understand … I never gave you permission to do it.’”
Ms. Cutler wasn’t supposed to be marketing the place, in other words. But uptown brokers often let it be known they’re the contact person for certain excellent properties, even if they don’t necessarily have the listing; if an offer comes their way, they can present it to the owner, which might mean a tidy commission. “Isn’t it true that at some price most people would consider selling?” Ms. Cutler asked. “Isn’t that true?”
It happens that the Real Estate Board of New York’s ethics code says not to offer a property for sale without an owner’s consent, though there are much iffier things big brokers tend to do, like, for example, publicizing news of a rival’s impending deal to ruin the potential buyer’s chances of clearing a co-op board. Still, Ms. Cutler seemed annoyed at herself. “I would say,” she sighed, “it was a bad idea.”
The listing was taken offline the next day.