Bull in a Co-op: Former Merrill SVP Buys $5.2 M. Park Ave. Place

It is deliciously ironic that executives whose gargantuan firms fueled the housing crisis are already making some very plum apartment purchases. Lehman’s former head of mortgage banking, Kurt A. Locher, recently spent $5.25 million on West End Avenue, for example, and ex-AIG executive vice president Robert M. Sandler spent $3.45 million at the Hampshire House the day after the F.B.I. announced its investigation into his old firm’s collapse.

But neither of those deals can rival the existential oomph of a deed filed late last month in city records. It says that Rosemary T. Berkery, the former vice chairman, general counsel and senior vice president at Merrill Lynch, has bought a $5.2 million apartment at 975 Park Avenue. According to older real estate records, she and her husband, attorney Robert Hausen, already have a co-op five floors down in the building.

In response to several questions via email, Ms. Berkery only wrote: “am moving from one apt in bldng to another.” As for her career, she said she wouldn’t be working for Bank of America, which acquired Merrill Lynch after the firm’s spectacular crumble, but won’t be retiring, either. Back when Ms. Berkery was made vice chairman, she was considered to be a possible successor to Merrill chief Stan O’Neal.

Incidentally, her seller at 975 Park is Hugh Quigley, once a Merrill man, too. “I had a 30-year career at the firm,” Mr. Quigley, 70, said this week. “I get very nostalgic; very angry, too.”

According to Mr. Quigley, who retired last decade as a managing director, he got a solicitous letter from his neighbors’ broker about a year ago. “We were not in the market to sell,” he said. “It took a long time.”

By early autumn, he got in touch with that broker. “I offered a price at which we would sell. And they said they would pay that price.”

As it turns out, Ms. Berkery and Mr. Quigley were coworkers before his retirement in 1995. “She was an attorney, and I was in charge of a department that needed legal advice from time to time. And she was one of the people that provided it.” He’s long since sold off his Merrill stock, which means that he hasn’t been hit by the firm’s downfall and doesn’t resent his buyer. “There was no drama,” he said. “No perfect story. No perfect ending.”

mabelson@observer.com

Bull in a Co-op: Former Merrill SVP Buys $5.2 M. Park Ave. Place