Publishing with Polish! Essie Sovereign Buys Peter Olson’s $4.5 M. Duplex

90643621 Publishing with Polish! Essie Sovereign Buys Peter Olsons $4.5 M. DuplexWhen publisher Peter Olson stepped down from his position as chief executive of Random House in May of 2008, few were surprised by the news. More recently, Mr. Olson stepped down from another perch: 799 Park Avenue. However, unlike his step-down from Random House, this switch was less predictable.

According to a deed filed Tuesday in city records, Mr. Olson and his wife, Candice Carpenter Olson, sold their 19th- and 20th-floor apartment to Essie Nail Polish founder Esther (Essie) Weingarten and her partner, Massimo Sortino, for $4.5 million.

The reason the transaction was unexpected? It was never listed! Neither the website StreetEasy, nor the other brokers representing properties in the 21-story, white brick building knew anything about the sale. When asked if she had the listing for apartment 1920B, Fox Residential Group broker Ellen Monness—who represents both a buyer for one apartment in the building and a seller for another—replied to The Observer, “Ha! No, I wish!” And Diana Ponzini & Associates broker Jaka Skrlj was also surprised to hear about the sale, telling The Observer, “Wow, I wasn’t aware the transaction was taking place at all.”

Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Claire Ratusch, who also lives in the building, knew the real story. Ms. Weingarten, who currently resides in apartment 19C—which is “a three-bedroom with a beautiful terrace”—knew that the Olsons had, “moved to Boston, or somewhere in Massachusetts,” and asked Ms. Carpenter Olson if she wanted to sell her the duplex. “It was never listed so she spoke to her and said she was interested in buying; and she said, ‘Well, alright!’”

Ms. Olson is a co-founder and former CEO of iVillage.com–an online network for women in New York–and author of Chapters: Creating a Life of Exhilaration and Accomplishment in the Face of Change, which, according to one Amazon reader review, “successfully helps you navigate the inevitable career ups and downs.”  The couple, who wed in 2001, have seven children between them—both were married previously but then divorced. 

The four-bedroom duplex has two terraces and four bathrooms, but, according to Ms. Ratusch, the nail polish numero uno, who was a buyer for Bendel’s before beginning her eponymous nail polish line, will complete “huge, huuuge renovations” before moving into the combined mega-apartment.

On her Web site, Ms. Weingarten writes, “Your hands make such a statement about how you want to be.”

So too, do your duplexes.

cmalle@observer.com