Steel Magnate Wants $95 M., Five Times What He Paid in 2008, for Tearing Down a Wall at 15 CPW

15cpw Steel Magnate Wants $95 M., Five Times What He Paid in 2008, for Tearing Down a Wall at 15 CPW

More, more, more!

So many of 15 Central Park West’s residents have flipped their apartments for such massive sums that it sometimes seems like the whole building is cheating at tiddlywinks with the New York real estate market. Especially after the $88 million sale of Sandy Weill’s apartment, residents might be forgiven when they list their apartments for prices that seem somewhat deluded. Still, Leroy Schecter’s bid to make $40 million for tearing down a wall seems straight-up delusional.

The octogenarian steel magnate is aiming to break sales records and pocket tens of millions of dollars by conjoining two 35th-floor apartments that he paid a total of $18.9 million for, The Wall Street Journal reports. The asking price? $95 million.

If you think that’s audacious, consider, also, that Mr. Schecter’s apartment is 20 percent smaller than Mr. Weill’s and that he listed the same two apartments—unconnected—for $55 million in 2010. Mr. Schecter told The Journal that he walked away from a $48 million offer for the duo back then, apparently feeling that two and a half times what he paid for the units was simply not enough.

Are there really buyers out there who hate the idea of undertaking (or more accurately, supervising) a renovation so much that they’re willing to pay a premium of $40 million to have someone else do it for them? Although combined apartments are traditionally worth more than two separate apartments—a phenomenon appraisal guru Jonathan Miller refers to as the 1+1 = 2.5 principle—a $95 million ask far exceeds that rule.

But Mr. Schecter tells The Journal that he is not worried.

“Nobody knows what the right price is,” he said. “If you had $10 billion and you are trying to put in a good place, you aren’t going to put it in a bank, you are going to try to buy good real estate with it.”

While Dmitri Ryboloblev’s $88 million purchase has been an inspiration to so many of the city’s most avaricious property owners (ahem, CitySpire) it’s far from clear that the sale has ushered in a new era of astronomically high gets so much as an era of astronomically high asks. After all, rumors abound that Mr. Ryboloblev’s cavalier way with a checkbook may have had more to do with keeping money from his soon-to-be ex-wife than anything else. The realities of the fertilizer king’s divorce notwithstanding, the one-off nature of his big, big buy would seem to be borne out by the fact that the other trophy sales during the last six months have been in the $50 million-to-$70 million range.

But nothing wrong with a little ambition, right? Apparently, Emily Beare, Mr. Schecter’s broker at CORE, didn’t see any reason to dissuade him from a $95 million ask. If the place doesn’t sell, he can always try to set rental records (Mr. Schecter once collected $70,000 a month in rent from the two units—leased to A-Rod and Henry Silverman, the founder of Cendant Corp).

And even as Mr. Schecter licks his lips at the prospect of making a $76 million profit, he’s always thinking of the little guy. A least a little bit. He tells The Journal that a portion of the proceeds from the sale will go toward his charitable foundation, which is planning to help people living in poverty in the New York area. By contrast, Sandy Weill claims (!) to have given all the money from his place to charity. What noblesse oblige!

kvelsey@observer.com