Dictators tend to be clear about what they like and what they don’t. Besides nukes and Fiats, Col. Muammar Qaddafi very much liked the gilded-age mansion at 5 East 78th Street.
The now-dead Libyan dictator was never able to call the Upper East Side townhouse home after being rebuffed by broker Jason Haber in 2009, but the extravagant space is now back on the market as a $30,000 per month rental.
But don’t let the apartment’s near run-in with a repressive regime dissuade you. It’s no wonder Qaddafi took a a liking to this place!
Located in the Beaux-Arts Barclay Mansion, the interiors exude opulence, with parquet floors, gold accents, ornate moldings, fireplaces, a Juliet balcony and gigantic, built-in mirrors—in short, it looks fit for a king, monarch or brutal overlord likely to be violently deposed.
Mr. Haber, who started socially-conscious real estate firm Rubicon Property after Qaddafi’s entourage pressed him to rent the sprawling 3-bedroom, 6-bathroom space in September 2009, refused to work with Qaddafi unless, he said, the dictator agreed to send convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi back to prison.
“It was first time I was approached by a totalitarian regime,” said Mr. Haber, adding that Qaddafi’s assistants played up the fact that the leader needed a place to stay while he spoke about peace to the U.N.
Apparently, the dictator also took a liking to Joan Rivers’ apartment, decorated in a decadent style that the comedian has described as “how Marie Antoinette would have live if she had had money.” The Libyan leader allegedly called her broker and offered to rent the place for $200,000 a week.
The last time this sprawling triplex hit the rental market at $28,000, there was strong interest from the famous and infamous, Mr. Haber told the Observer. The current resident, a prominent art dealer who was paying a little under the ask, is leaving in May. Now the market’s much more robust, and Mr. Huber is looking for residents who can pay the $30,000 a month rent (as long as it’s by honest means).
Would the apartment’s appeal to a dictator turn some off?
“It just shows that it’s a worldly apartment that’s very desirable,” said Mr. Haber. “But who knows who’ll come to look at it this time.”