Residents of the River House, the once-superlative East River enclave wedged behind wrought-iron gates on a cul de sac on East 52nd Street, are familiar with the sting of revenge. The famously exclusive co-op lived through a lawsuit brought against them by Gloria Vanderbilt when she was not even granted her board interview but was instead turned down off the bat due to the hullabaloo that followed her name and her relationship with crooner Bobby Short. Residents with East River views must also gaze upon the famous Pepsi-Cola sign, strategically planted in Long Island City by actress Joan Crawford as retaliation when her application was vetoed by then-co-op board president, Robert Woodruff, also then the president of Coca-Cola.
But what about the revenge the River House has wreaked on others? Such as Marty Richards, the septugenarian Broadway macher with such staples as Chicago and Sweeney Todd under his belt. Richards first listed his duplex maisonette at the River House in 2000. Now, over a decade later, the 14-room apartment is in contract, not that that means much since the board has made it virtually impossible for Richards to find a buyer that meets the co-op’s standards. The board has always been stringent–in the 1970s they turned down Diane Keaton because she was a single woman dating Woody Allen–but sources say that for Richards they made standards particularly high in retaliation for the publicity the years-long listing has generated.
In his inspired real estate tell-all, The Sky’s The Limit, Steven Gaines writes, “The board also reprimands owners who give interviews to the press and it virtually terrorized Chicago producer Marty Richards into not mentioning in interviews that his $25 million maisonette was for sale–and not selling.”
Of course, it was mentioned—if not by Richards himself, then by others. As Sotheby’s broker Nikki Field told The Observer in 2009, “Richards has had almost half a dozen close-to-asking-price offers with people who did not fit the profile for board approval.”
Now he appears to have another one. According to Streeteasy and a brokers’ database, the apartment in deed has a contract signed though the deal has not yet closed. The final asking price, listed for the third time with Brown Harris Stevens’ Kathy Sloane, is at $13.9 million–since 2000, the price of the apartment has yo-yo-ed from $11.5 million to $29 million to $22.7 million to $13.9 million.The sale price is unknown, and Ms. Sloane did not return requests for comment.