Russia's Gambling Man Belotserkovsky Loses Bet on Plaza

As Mikhail Prokhorov and a cadre of globetrotting countrymen continue to expand their presence in the city, one of their comrades is shedding some of his, and at a considerable loss. In the summer of 2007, Boris Belotserkovsky, the boss of Russia’s one-armed bandits, bought a sizable one-bedroom on the 13th floor of the recently converted Plaza for $5.1 million. Now, the 1,100-square-foot jewelbox on the north side of the luxurious landmark has just sold for $4.43 million.

While well below what Mr. Belotserkovsky paid for the condo, the price still reflects a premium for the Plaza, as the unit cost $3,693 per square foot, and StreetEasy shows it as one of the most expensive spaces in its class in the neighborhood. Yet the Plaza, long-plagued by construction delays, contract disputes and plenty of snickering, is still finding its footing. There have been 22 resales in the past two years, according to StreetEasy, and all have sold at a discount from their asking prices, many in the double-digit range, some as high as one-third off. (This does not necessarily mean people lost money on the deals, however, as Mr. Belotserkovsky did.)

SLIDESHOW: A Casino at the Plaza, So To Speak. >>

“It sounds crazy at $3,700 a square foot, but this is the Plaza,” James Cox Jr. of brokerage Earth 316 told The Observer. “Obviously, everybody knows the history. It’s appealing to people outside the city who know the building. They see it as a valuable addition to their portfolio.”

And yet, it went to local buyers, Alfred and Stephanie Shuman, who happen to own a three-bedroom two doors down. Mr. Shuman has been banking for almost 50 years, first with Bear Stearns, then as head of Archstone Portfolios, a fund of funds—”‘Ten best and forget the rest,’ was the message Shuman exuded,” writes the New York Social Diary. The couple are regulars on the city’s social circuit, and a party they held in the Hamptons in 1998, at which they celebrated their 15th anniversary by burning their prenuptial agreement, was once featured in this very paper’s Transom. The Observer is thrilled to hear the Shumans are but two years away from their 30th anniversary. A hearty mazel tov on that feat, as well as the second apartment.

The three-bedroom was bought in 2007, when the Plaza was just taking off, for $10.98 million. Just last year, the Shumans sold their penthouse at 1088 Park Avenue for $4.8 million, more than enough to cover their latest acquisition. It also turns out the one-bedroom in between their two condos was on the market in 2009 for $2.425 million, in part because it is two-thirds the size of Mr. Belotserkovsky’s space. Still, how long before the Shumans have cobbled together an Eloise-worthy five-bedroom?

Even if that is not the plan, Mr. Cox said the couple has picked up a gem. “There are no other one-bedrooms like it on the market,” he said. “There is one two floors up, but it has obstructed views. You have to go right up to the window to see the Park. This is the one.”

SLIDESHOW: A Casino at the Plaza, So To Speak. >>

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