Home Builder Hovnanian Quietly Wants $36 M. at 820 Fifth

l transfers820 fifth ave Home Builder Hovnanian Quietly Wants $36 M. at 820 FifthLast autumn, when the national economy collapsed and the world of super-moneyed Manhattan real estate fell with it, one half-expected droves of beleaguered titans to all put their brass-knobbed real estate on the market.

But the uptown sell-off has been magnificently hushed and painstakingly dignified. According to two sources, Tommy Hilfiger’s former co-op at 820 Fifth, which home-building titan Ara Hovnanian bought in 2003, is quietly on the market. One of those sources said the tag, though there’s no official price, is $36 million.

There have now been quietly available mega-apartments at nearly every massively significant co-op in New York: The Observer has reported that a philanthropic widow is asking over $60 million for her 740 Park duplex; a fashion billionaire has wanted $60 million for his 834 Fifth duplex; and a former Morgan Stanley mergers-and-acquisitions chief thinks he can get $45 million at 998 Fifth.

Even if 740 has its own 576-page tell-all biography and 834 has the most famous magnates, 820 is the one with the strongest chins, highest noses and cruelest standards. Its co-op board has reportedly turned away billionaires Steve Wynn, Ron Perelman, Asher Edelman and Fred Koch.

When doyenne agent Alice Mason got Mr. Hilfiger into 820 Fifth Avenue, acceptance of a baggy-pants titan caused a minor revolution, though he ended up flipping his $10 million co-op for $18 million to the widow Lily Safra, who bought the place for her daughter. After a multimillion-dollar renovation that reportedly involved new lighting and flooring, no one moved in. The co-op was sold to Mr. Hovnanian.

It’s not quite clear why he wants to sell the sprawl, which has 6,500 square feet and nine windows on Park Avenue, though the source said his famly has an eye “on something Downtown.”

Shares of his family’s giant home-building firm Hovnanian Enterprises fell from a 52-week high of $12.43 to just above 50 cents last month. The company cut over 1,500 jobs in 2008, and chief executive Mr. Hovnanian, whose father founded the company, was given a $1.5 million bonus. He did not return messages left at his office and with a publicist.

Serena Boardman, who is said to be handling the co-op, would not comment.

mabelson@observer.com