David Geffen Snaps Up Denise Rich’s Fifth Avenue Penthouse for $54 M.

dr David Geffen Snaps Up Denise Richs Fifth Avenue Penthouse for $54 M.

Ms. Rich’s grand piano in her grand salon.

Apparently, Dreamworks co-founder David Geffen doesn’t take the  biblical commandment “thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s house” very seriously. He’s gone ahead and purchased the 20-room duplex penthouseat 785 Fifth Avenue from his upstairs neighbor Denise Rich for a record-setting $54 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. The previous co-op record was set this spring, when Oaktree Capital Chief Howard Marks purchased the Courtney Sale Ross apartment at 740 Park for $52.5 million.

Ms. Rich listed the crazy spread for $65 million in January with Corcoran brokers Noble Black, Chazz Levi and Bonnie Pfeifer Evans, who claim that at 12,000-square-feet it is the largest apartment ever offered on Fifth Avenue (although measuring square footage in co-ops is a notoriously imprecise process).  And while Ms. Rich didn’t get full ask, she got more than anyone else ever has before. And we thought that maybe the trophy hunting season was over! How many pseudo trophy listings will Ms. Rich’s enviable sale spawn?

The real question is what kind of taxes the Austrian-born singer, socialite and philanthropist will have to pay on her penthouse profit after renouncing her U.S. citizenship earlier this year.

And where will she live? The apartment was literally, custom made for a Fifth Avenue powerhouse like Ms. Rich, with wrap-around terraces, a full roof-top terrace, seven-bedrooms, 11 baths and three kitchens (who needs three kitchens? Even Downton Abbey only had one. Surely a catering crew could manage everything for a sit-down dinner for 22 in the chef’s kitchen adjoining the grand dining room?). There’s also a professional recording studio (not very useful for most buyers), a complete gym overlooking Central Park (you can watch those without gyms run far below your penthouse perch) and a library with custom-milled Fiddleback mahogany. See the full apartment here>>

We’re sure that as a current resident of the building, Mr. Geffen wouldn’t have had much trouble getting past the co-op board, but the board of 785 is pretty laid back anyway. The listing informs us that international and pied-a-terre purchasers are welcome in the building.

At least Mr. Geffen will probably be spending a good deal of his time in this huge apartment, which is somewhat heartening. We hate to think that much of the city’s most spectacular real estate is, or will soon, be owned by part-time residents, like the sad, empty penthouse at 15 CPW. The Journal reports that Mr. Geffen planning to sell his downstairs apartment and renovate the space before moving into the $54 million fixer upper. Since he’ll be knocking down walls and re-doing finishes anyway, why not just keep his downstairs apartment and turn the place into a triplex?

kvelsey@observer.com