Shelving Trophies

As it’s turned out, any high-end New York apartment that’s lost only a fourth of its value would probably be considered lucky. This month, deeds show, a 26-foot-wide, 20-room mansion at 18 East 82nd Street sold for less than half its original $29 million asking price. Even if brokers are now mostly serenely acknowledging the market’s downfall, one of the city’s top townhouse brokers heard about that sale and said, “Fourteen point three million for that building? You’re positive?”

 

EVEN BILLIONAIRES ARE BUYING modestly. So far this summer, the pharmaceuticals mogul Michael Jaharis has paid $6.7 million for an apartment on Fifth Avenue, a weirdly paltry sum for the neighborhood; and the family of hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen bought a downtown duplex for $2.7 million, about a third of what he spent on Damien Hirst’s shark piece.

“No matter how many billions you had, you have fewer billions,” said Richard Wallgren, the sales director at Robert A. M. Stern’s limestone-caked 15 Central Park. The broker said he’s been dealing with tycoons who are suddenly asking for comparable sales figures. “They don’t want to pay too much. It’s that simple.”

“Some people are concerned; some people are concerned what others will think,” said Paula Del Nunzio, another broker who worked on the record-holding $53 million Harkness deal. “If you work for a public company, you’re damned scared. You’re very, very careful, because you don’t want it to become an example of gross greed inadvertently.”

Mr. Wallgren briefly listed a 15 Central Park West penthouse last year for $80 million, even though it had been bought for $21.5 million. It was taken off the market in October, listed again in February for $47.5 million, and, records show, taken off the market in early May. Mr. Wallgren would not comment, except to say that it hasn’t been sold or rented.

Last week, The Observer reported that only one of the 10 Manhattan residential properties asking over $45 million in late 2008 has sold. (The $80 million Central Park West listing wasn’t included in that tally because it had been temporarily taken off the market. Nor was Mr. Arader’s mansion, which had been marketed chiefly as an art gallery.)

On July 16, a duplex at 1030 Fifth Avenue that had come on the market at $47.5 million was reportedly cut to $19.9 million. A day after that, the $51 million tag for Trump Park Avenue’s duplex penthouse was chopped $20 million to $31 million.