Eloise Redux: Second Big Plaza Penthouse Will Be Re-listed

A few months ago, two brokers in charge of selling the redone Plaza’s 181 private apartments were sitting happily by the condo’s new reflecting pool: The building’s 181st apartment, a 16th-floor one-bedroom suite, was about to go to contract.

But it was already widely known that oil oligarch Andrei Vavilov had sued over a massive deal for a three-level penthouse sprawl. Last month, after the suit was settled, The Observer reported that El-Ad, the building’s developer, will be putting one half of Mr. Vavilov’s apartment back on the market. (Mr. Vavilov kept the other half and has already listed it himself.)

But there’s company. According to a source, El-Ad is putting Penthouse 2001 back on the market, too.

As the Post reported in September, that duplex was set to sell to a 30-something hedge fund manager, but a complaint, filed just after news broke of Mr. Vavilov’s suit, demanded the $6.5 million deposit back, plus $350,000 for legal fees–plus $3.5 million for punitive damages, according to a copy of the complaint.

When the Plaza re-lists the penthouse after decorating it, the source said, the price could be astoundingly low compared to the $31 million or so it was supposed to have sold for. “We’ll see if the stock market hits 5,000 or 12,000, a lot of it is psychology. … I don’t think it’s a $31 million market at the moment.”

But it’s not clear what will happen with the would-be buyer. Mr. Vavilov settled when his $10.7 million deposit was more or less swapped for the smaller half of the penthouse space he was going to buy.

The source said that this 30-something hedge fund buyer would be given an apartment at another El-Ad development, like the Grand Madison, in exchange for his $6.5 million deposit. But his lawyer, Stanley Alter, denied that there would be any settlement. “As far as I know, you’re wrong,” he said Tuesday. “I’m busy on working on this case, and I’m busy not on a settlement; I’m working on litigation.” He declined to offer further details.

Either way, it’s clear the hedge fund manager won’t end up with the penthouse. Does he want out of the deal because of financial difficulties? “Absolutely not, absolutely not, absolutely not,” Mr. Alter said. “He never got what he was supposed to get.”

mabelson@observer.com