Forget This Old House! Bob Vila Loses a Million on Madison Square Loft

bob vila Forget This Old House! Bob Vila Loses a Million on Madison Square Loft

Bob Vila

While home improvement master Bob Vila may be known for giving drab homes D.I.Y. facelifts, around these parts he is better known as a successful flipper of top-of-the-line Manhattan real estate. There was the Tribeca loft—where he was neighbors with Mariah Carey—the Upper East Side townhouse, the two apartments at Museum Tower. Even Mr. Vila’s son Chris has gotten in on the game.

That is why it is so surprising the salt-and-pepper-of-the-earth handyman has had a hard time selling a penthouse at 15 East 26th Street that he bought two years ago.

Mr. Vila purchased the Flatiron condo overlooking Madison Square Park back in early 2009, paying just over $6 million for the two-bedroom, three-bath penthouse. With a 600-square-foot private terrace and a ridiculously proportioned master suite, the home would impress even the uptown set. The condo also features a home office where Mr. Vila undoubtedly sat in deep contemplation, pondering the best gutter-cleaning practices and kitchen tiling tactics.

Unlike many of Mr. Vila’s previous purchases, it appears he had no intention to renovate this property, as The Times noted when he bought the place that the penthouse was move-in ready.

The building, also known as 15 Madison Square North, is described by its developer as transporting residents back to “the warmth and grandeur of a time when the city’s elite traveled by carriage.” Perhaps the place did not jibe with Mr. Vila’s pick-up truck proclivities. The 20-story condo was a former commercial building erected in 1912 that still, quite appropriately, houses many home supply showrooms on its lower floors. On the top 11 stories there are now 72 condo units.

Strangely, it seems that Mr. Vila knew he was destined to lose money on the deal. When he put it on the market last May, the asking price was $5.7 million,  a full $300,000 less than what he paid for it—unusual circumstances considering so many homes bought during the doldrums of the housing bust are now being passed off for considerably more.

After several price chops, an anonymous buyer ended up paying just $5 million for the place, according to city records. Hopefully this has not soured Mr. Vila on New York for good. As busy as he is with these renovations, there is plenty of sweat on The Observer‘s brow trying to keep up.


  1. Micoz says:

    Another victim of the Obama economy.  Welcome to the club, Bob.  Millions of Americans are suffering from his terrible economy.  Me included.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Yeah, Bob Vila is “suffering.” And it’s Obama’s fault.

      1. jones.barry says:

        so you admit it

  2. Nailhead says:

    Did you know Bob Vila has never renovated a home in his life? He’s never had a trade’s union card or a contractor’s license. He was just lucky to be hired as the host of This Old House and also fired by them. To his credit, he got very rich being a con artist; even his wife had said once, ”home improvement simply isn’t Bob Vila’s idea of fun. “Fixing things is not the way he wants to spend his time,” says his wife, Harvard Business School senior lecturer Diana Barrett. “He’s just not a fix-it person. (Boston Globe, Oct 8, 1998)