Palace Intrigue On East 72nd: Two Pools, 16 Bathrooms and a Million Rumors

The exterior of the two townhouses today.

The exteriors of the two townhouses, under wraps.

Some people have heard that the townhouse at 12 East 72nd Street is being renovated for a Russian oligarch. Others say the man behind the massive construction project is the emir of Qatar. Or is it the Qatari prime minister? He was rumored to be the buyer of Aby Rosen’s $50 million mansion on East 71st Street, but really, who knows? The sale has yet to close, and the Middle Eastern mogul has been desperate to lay his hands on something in the neighborhood ever since the board of 907 Fifth Avenue rejected his bid to combine two co-ops belonging to the late copper heiress Huguette Clark.

As for the building itself, sheathed in construction scaffolding and plastic sheeting, they say that there will be a basketball court on the roof and three swimming pools, one for each of the emir’s wives. That the elevator shaft for the building is 10 stories high, far in excess of the six-story structure approved by the Landmarks Commission. That the townhouse will be the largest private residence in Manhattan and will cost $100 million. That workers are drilling down 40 feet into the bedrock for unknown, possibly nefarious purposes. That there are a lot of highly suspicious goings-on that might be stopped if a shady billionaire were not “greasing the palms of city officials.” 287718