Elie Tahari’s New Fit at 860 Fifth

Elie Tahari has been called “the king of the jacket” for the $500 million business-forward fashion label that bears his name. Yet the Israeli-born designer could also be called the king of real estate for his nine-figure property portfolio. Still, for years there was one tiny piece of Manhattan he could never have until now, though Mr. Tahari has paid handsomely for it.

Since 1979, the garmento has lived in a penthouse on the 21st floor of 860 Fifth Avenue, for which he paid $325,000. For upward of a decade, Mr. Tahari has sought to own the penthouse across the hall from his, sources tell The Observer. The two-bedroom home, the only other unit atop the 1950s building, had been occupied for four decades by Taggert and Katharine Whipple. When Ms. Whipple passed away in July 2009–her husband, a prominent attorney, died in 1992–her family put the penthouse on the market the following February for $3.695 million.

Mr. Tahari purchased his prize on Jan. 25, according to city records. The price was $4.2 million.

The purchase was not only expensive but exhausting. The unit went into contract barely a month after being listed, according to StreetEasy, but it did not close for another 10 months. The nature of the co-op approval is unclear, but Mr. Tahari has had his differences with the board before.

Last decade, Mr. Tahari sued after he was nearly prevented from making extensive renovations to his unit as well as from buying air rights to build atop his roughly 4,000-square-foot home, according to The Times. Eventually, he succeeded in swaying the co-op, paying a reported $1.2 million to repair the roof and $2.5 million for the air rights, as well as undisclosed renovation costs. That project has been under construction ever since and is still unfinished.

What plans Mr. Tahari has for his new addition remain to be seen, but it seems unlikely they will be small given his long-standing interest in his current home as well as the one next door. “He’s had his eye on the property for a long time,” according to a person familiar with the purchase.

The new spread enjoys “stunning, unparalleled views of Central Park” from both bedrooms as well as the large, fireplace-adorned living room, according to the Corcoran listing. There are two bathrooms and staff quarters, all abutting an unusual wraparound terrace stretching more than 120-feet along the western and northern sides of the penthouse, “which make this penthouse especially rare and special,” Patricia Cliff declares in her exclusive listing.

Why Mr. Tahari would have such an intense interest in 860 Fifth is not apparent. His longevity in the building notwithstanding, the co-op is far from the most coveted property on the Upper East Side. Most residents are anonymous if well-to-do professionals who have combined units over the years–including another recent buyer.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tahari has owned some of the most rarefied real estate in the city. There is the half-floor penthouse at 1 Central Park West, the Trump International, which he sold for $13 million in 2006. Last year, the designer and his wife Rory sold their triplex penthouse on Prince Street for $27 million, the sixth most expensive sale of 2010. (They bought the loft from Rupert Murdoch in 2006 for $25 million.) There are also homes on the East End up for sale, and in October, Mr. Tahari sold the SOM-designed landmark jewelbox at 510 Fifth Avenue, where he had had offices, for $57 million, according to city records.

Mr. Tahari is currently ensconced at 15 Central Park West. He moved into a $30,000-a-month rental in September following a suit between the owner of the three-bedroom condo and its previous occupant, hedgie Russell Abrams, who was only paying $20,000 per month. Mr. Abrams refused to leave, despite having spent more than a year in the unit, which is typically all the time the condo board will allow.

So will Mr. Tahari be ready to move into his newer, bigger home across the park in seven months’ time?


Elie Tahari’s New Fit at 860 Fifth