Not that it takes a sociology wiz to grasp that showiness falls out of vogue during a recession, but the amount of Manhattan’s so-called quiet listings—prim apartments and townhouses offered with gargantuan asking prices but no public listings—is getting mind-boggling.
According to two sources, a fifth-floor apartment at 998 Fifth Avenue, the McKim, Mead & White–designed co-op that helped make apartments reputable back when it was gauche to not live in a mansion, is available. The asking price, though there is no official tag, is somewhere around $45 million.
A financing statement in city records lists the apartment’s owner as former Morgan Stanley vice chairman Bruce D. Fiedorek, once head of the firm’s mergers-and-acquisitions business. He picked up a call on Monday and said, “I have no reason to discuss any of this, thank you.” He hung up.
The apartment is apparently the 7,000-square-foot sprawl featured in Architectural Digest three years ago after a renovation by the plush designers Stephen Sills and James Huniford. They put in a lemonwood library desk “designed to resemble a Greek temple” and restored the living room’s Louis XV ceiling medallion, among other things. That article described the apartment’s owner as a banker now focusing on “kids, friendship, cooking, art, baseball and philanthropy.”
Kathy Sloane, the broker said to be handling the apartment, responded to an interview request by writing, “I cannot confirm nor speak about any apartment on the market at 998 Fifth Ave with the exception of 3/4E,” the duplex she’s listing for $25 million. “I think it’s dangerous to write about things in which you’re not thoroughly familiar.”
Brokers take these things really seriously. When Ms. Sloane invited a group of agents to see the fifth-floor co-op, she made them sign confidentiality agreements and wouldn’t share the address of the building “until an hour before,” one of those brokers said. “Reporting on quiet listings is a hideous and obnoxious thing to do,” Paula Del Nunzio, who is quietly handling a $52 million townhouse on East 70th Street, told this reporter last week.
The 998 Fifth apartment was nicely renovated, said another broker who has seen it recently, “but you can’t use superlatives.” The building reportedly has jewelry safes in the walls of each apartment, front doors fireproofed with painted galvanized steel, Italian marble in the lobby, Tennessee marble in the halls and French walnut in the elevators, yet the Metropolitan Museum gets in the way of Central Park views. “It’s not my personal favorite location,” that broker said.
A $45 million tag would be high: Two years ago, back when the world was still bubbly, the billionaire Len Blavatnik paid $27.5 million for a co-op one floor below Mr. Fiedorek. But there are higher prices nearby: A duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue is quietly asking $60 million, and one at 740 Park is available for “over $60 million,” broker Edward Lee Cave has said.
“When it’s very quiet, quote unquote, there’s a different reason every time,” Mr. Cave said this week when asked about unofficial listings. “Somebody calls a very important broker they know and says, ‘Look, maybe we’re moving to Palm Beach.’ And it goes from there.”