Steve Madden has called the townhouse at 175 East 73rd Street home for years, but it looks like the other shoe has finally dropped. The affordable footwear giant listed the house yesterday, asking nearly $9 million. (Like a pair of his namesake mid-market shoes, it was priced with a bunch of trailing 9’s.)
Mr. Madden first moved to the Upper East Side as a renter, from a neighborhood with a slightly less distinguished pedigree—the Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Florida, where he was serving a 41-month sentence after being convicted of participating in a pump-and-dump stock scheme.
Over the years he and his wife, Wendy Ballew, bought up all the units in the Upper East Side townhouse, which had been carved into co-ops. They paid $3.6 million for one unit in 2006, $2.2 million for another three years later: “We just wanted the place. We overpaid,” he admitted to The Observer back in 2009. This past December that the couple slipped their feet into the final $1.9 million unit and—boom!—they owned the whole property.
But after just a few months of unified ownership, the place is back on the auction block. Maybe the house in its entirety turned out to be a bad fit? The $8.99 million that Mr. Madden is asking for the 6,000-square foot house sounds reasonable enough, especially given that he paid a full $7.7 million for the individual units and presumably did some resoling and polishing to bring them back together.
As Mr. Madden has a rumored net worth of $120 million, he can probably foot the bill for any loss he may take on the 20-foot-wide townhouse. Besides the reasonable price, the house has a lot going for it: five floors and a basement, with the current floor plan listing six bedrooms—four small ones on the third floor, and two on the fifth floor, each with skylights and their own private terraces—though the listing plays up the potential for renovations and a new configuration. (The two rooms on the fourth floor are listed as “living rooms,” perhaps owing to the fact that the rooms are open to the floor below.)
Jared Seligman at Douglas Elliman has the listing, but could not be reached for comment.
The brick rowhouse, set back from the sidewalk and flanked by two lot line walls from the neighboring houses, dates back to 1860, and is only one of only two surviving Italianate-style homes on the block, which is landmarked as part of the East 73rd Street Historic District.
The structure started its life as a simple townhouse, but was converted in 1896 into a dual residence and blacksmith’s shop, devoted to making footwear of a different kind: horseshoes, for the surrounding carriage houses and stables. It remained a live-work space until the ’20s, when it was purchased by architect Francis Livingston Pell, of Pell & Corbett fame. Now that Mr. Madden is taking leave of the house, perhaps there’s another high-end cobbler out there who might continue the tradition?