In a flurry of house-swapping three years ago, at the height of the real estate mania, Edgar Bronfman Jr. traded a half-dozen properties with a total price tag exceeding $115 million, a spree that culminated in the fall of 2008 with his purchase of 117-119 East 69th Street for $28.5 million. The 40-foot-wide home is widely known as the Muppet Mansion, as Jim Henson paid $600,000 for the 82-year-old Neo-Georgian townhouse in 1977. He used it as a studio to create his furry creatures until his death, when the Henson estate sold the home for $12.5 million to a Bank of America executive.
Mr. Bronfman has resettled in London, which is said to be why he is selling the home. Having offloaded his old townhouse around the corner to Len Blavatnik for $50 million in 2007–more than 10 times what he paid for it in 1994–perhaps the Seagrams heir and Warner Music boss can come to terms with a 20 percent loss on the Muppet manse, which just sold for $23 million, according to city records.
The buyer has a sense of humor, hiding behind a limited-liability corporation by the name of Statler. That happens to be the name of the tall, skinny muppet who heckles the stars from a theater box along with his pal Waldorf on the old Muppet Show. And yet the joke is on the buyer, as the deed lists an address for the LLC at 1211 Avenue of the Americas, headquarters of News Corp., and the deed has been signed by one of the building’s denizens, Jesse Angelo, editor of The Daily.
This seems like an awfully expensive home for the 37-year-old Murdoch man, whose most recent purchase was a $1.9 million condo at the Meatpacking District’s Porter House, bought in January 2005. Then again, as a recent profile revealed, Mr. Angelo is the son of a hedge fund manager. Plus, there is the $30 million Rupert gave his squire to start his iPad-only publication…
The 12,000-square-foot home is in need of a top-to-bottom, every-inch renovation, as Corcoran brokers Carrie Chiang and Loy Carlos write in their listing: “There are few opportunities to create a 40-ft wide majestic residence reminiscent of the golden era when the most prominent New Yorkers like the Fricks, Vanderbilts, Carnegies and Roosevelts built palatial homes in what was then an up and coming neighborhood… the Upper East Side. In 1928, Beekman Winthrop commissioned architect Julius Gaylor who created this masterful residence. [...] The house awaits a special purchaser who desires to undertake a restoration befitting its history, marrying it with the best of 21st century technology.”
Does Mr. Angelo really have that kind of money, or could the home be for one of his News Corp. cubicle mates? He did not return repeated requests for comment, and the brokers, who had a co-exclusive with Brown Harris Stevens‘ Paula Del Nunzio and Alina Pedroso, declined to comment. “We don’t even know who the buyer is,” Ms. Chiang said.