The late Pat and William F. Buckley’s $24.5 million duplex maisonette at 778 Park Avenue is a very proper co-op (it includes a “staff changing room,” according to a listing), with a very proper provenance (he the blue-eyed patriarch of conservatism, she the 6-foot-tall society doyenne), in a very proper apartment house (Brooke Astor’s old duplex is upstairs).
Yet selling the co-op hasn’t been smooth. It has been marketed only unofficially, according to two sources, since an odd and very public marketing campaign led by the brokers Tom and Catherine Holmes ended in February: “It’s as if people believe that if it’s a secret, it’s got exclusivity,” one of the sources, a top Manhattan agent, said.
But the Buckley listing was introduced with a bang last June, when a fete for the couple turned into a coming-out party for the Holmes’ listing, according to The Times. Gift bags included a fact sheet mentioning the $10,077 monthly maintenance fee; guests huffed; Ed Koch left after 10 minutes; The New Criterion’s Roger Kimball offered that the place had been “effaced by the ministrations of the real estate agents.”
Then, in October, the Buckleys’ only son, Christopher, whose memoir Losing Mum and Pup was released this month, complained to The Times about the co-op’s “absurdly inflated price.” Ms. Holmes told The Observer that month that Mr. Buckley wasn’t being serious, and added a dig about his Obama endorsement: “It seems to be the popular thing to do now.” Another Times article came in December, when Mr. Holmes said the building was looking for a buyer with “quiet money,” though he and his wife had been on a local real estate TV show to introduce the house.
It was strange that such a savagely crisp couple’s Park Avenue co-op would suffer such topsy-turvy marketing: By March, after the Holmes’ listing had been removed from the Internet, Mr. Buckley told New York magazine that the maisonette was off the market.
“You’ll be misleading your readers by suggesting it’s on the market. It is not,” a spokesperson for the writer told The Observer this week. When pressed about the unofficial listing, he said, “Thanks for your clarification. As I mentioned earlier, Christopher is traveling right now and isn’t available for comment. But in response, on his behalf: The apartment is not on the market, but may be later in the year.”
It’s not clear if Mr. Buckley has picked a new broker, but Mr. Holmes said Monday that he and his wife are no longer involved with the maisonette. Keys have been returned. It’s also not clear if Mr. Buckley has settled on a new price, though Mr. Holmes said an $18 million offer would likely be accepted.