Recession Reaches Redoubt of Redolently Wealthy at 740 Park

Foreclosure toys with allure of house that Rockefeller polished.

Steve and Christine Schwarzman

Co-founder of private equity powerhouse the Blackstone Group (and the 52nd richest American), Mr. Schwarzman loves his 740 triplex so much that he had the venue of his lavish 60th birthday bash in 2007 designed to look like rooms from his apartment.

“Certain rooms in the apartment—not all 34 of them,” noted Mr. Kaiser, the broker familiar with the building.

In 2000, Mr. Schwarzman purchased his apartment from disgraced financier and insurance strongman Saul Steinberg. Although the exact price remains a mystery, Mr. Schwarzman paid around $35 million for the palatial home, the highest price paid for a co-op in Manhattan at that time.

Steve and Christine Schwarzman.

Mr. Steinberg had purchased the home back in 1971 from the estate of John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s second wife, Martha.

David and Julia Koch

It seems that Mr. Koch really has a thing for Jackie O.’s former residences. In 2004, Mr. Koch, a low-key conservative moneyman who beat the mayor last year as the richest New Yorker, sold his apartment at 1040 Park Avenue, the last home of Onassis, for $30 million. He promptly purchased a duplex at 740 Park from the Japanese government (the country’s U.N. ambassador had lived there).

At the time of the purchase, Mr. Koch told The New York Times that he had paid “an attractive price” for the property, figured by many to be around $17 million.

Mr. Koch outbid a Russian financier, Leonard Blavatnik,. “I took it out from under his nose,” Mr. Koch told Mr. Gross. “I’m sure they preferred me. Obviously, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. It’s nice to be wanted.”

Don’t feel too badly for Mr. Blavatnik, however. In 2007, he purchased Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s townhouse at 15 East 64th Street for $51 million.

Ezra and Lauren Merkin

Wall-size Rothkos once graced the walls of former financier and Madoff crony Ezra Merkin’s apartment at 740 Park. In happier days, Mr. Merkin and his wife, in fact, owned the largest private collection of Rothkos in the world.

Immediately after the Madoff scandal broke, however, Mr. Merkin revealed that his money managing firm Ascot Partners had lost $2.4 billion in investors’ money in the Ponzi scheme. Then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo promptly froze Mr. Merkin’s assets, claiming that he had concealed his investment ties with Mr. Madoff’s group. Mr. Cuomo demanded that the Merkins sell their famed Rothko collection, holding assets from the sale pending the outcome of the state’s lawsuit. While the paintings have been sold, the fate of the assets remains unknown.

We wonder if the apartment remains underdecorated, or if perhaps Ms. Merkin decided to paint an accent wall to compensate for the loss.

Thomas and Alice Tisch

Around the time Saul Steinberg was unloading his apartment, the Tisches quietly purchased a duplex on the eighth and ninth floors for approximately $15 million. They purchased the home from an Austrian financier and his wife, Anne Eisenhower, granddaughter of the former president. According to Mr. Gross, the Tisches snatched the apartment the same day it was put on the market.

Although Ms. Eisenhower and her husband, Wolfgang Flottl, owned the apartment for eight years, they never moved in. “It was too big for me,” Ms. Eisenhower told Mr. Gross for 740 Park.

Before Mr. Flottl and Ms. Eisenhower owned it, the apartment served as a pied-á-terre for one of the more colorful residents in the building’s history. His Royal Highness Nawwaf bin Abd al-Aziz bin Abd al-Rahman Al Saud; Prince Nawwaf, for short, bought the apartment in the late 1970s. Although he visited his New York outpost infrequently, his presence in the building was readily evidenced by the presence of secret Saudi police and women by the “truckload” who would visit the apartment, according to Mr. Gross’s book.

Recession Reaches Redoubt of Redolently Wealthy at 740 Park