Marty Richards‘ duplex at the River House has 14 rooms, and it seems like The Observer has written as many stories about the home in the decade-plus the famed producer has been trying to sell it. Finally, this reporter might be out of a job, as the home has sold.
Not just in contract, as happened back in 2001, when hog wholesaler Joseph W. Luter III decided to walk away from his deposit, even after getting past the notorious board, because his wife wanted to be closer to the park, and so they bought on Park. This four-bedroom, five-and-a-half bath regal wonder is finally, really, truly, we swear gone. And for much less than Mr. Richards had hoped.
According to city records, Manuel Balbontin, a Chilean-born investment manager who focuses on his native continent, and wife Corina Ulivi Balbontin have just paid $11.65 million for the duplex. Mr. Luter was prepared to pay $17.5 million, and four years ago Mr. Richards was even asking $22.7 million, before cutting it to $13.9 million two weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed and the world with it.
Are the Balbontins big entertainers? Hopefully! “It’s a beautiful, very formal home, perfect for entertaining,” said East Side maven A. Larry Kaiser IV, who has been inside the ground-floor duplex, but was not attached to the deal. And yet it was also not perfect for entertaining. “It’s a reverse duplex, where the reception rooms are on the top floor and the bedrooms below. And a hostess likes to make a grand entrance, coming down the stairs, and you really can’t do that here, even though there is plenty of room to host.”
He added that it was not ideal for a large family, maybe someone with one kid, though, according to Mr. Balbontin’s website, he has three and has lived in the city for 18 years. Perhaps a renovation is in order? That would be unfortunate, as well. “If you wanted great French everything, this home was perfect, you don’t have to change a thing,” Mr. Kaiser said. “But that is not for everyone.”
Brown Harris Stevens‘ Kathy Sloane, who has stuck with Mr. Richards for the long haul, declined to comment.
Two years ago, the producer of Chicago and Sweeney Todd, among so many other hits, moved into a full-floor four-bedroom at 21 East 96th Street (even he needed to be closer to the park, apparently). Meanwhile, the Balbontins are leaving behind a full-floor four-bedroom at 620 Park Avenue, which came on the market in July with John Venekamp of Brown Harris Stevens. It was asking $9 million but was knocked down to $8.75 million in February.