There aren’t many people in Brooklyn who could sell you a live human kidney in, but Levy Izhak Rosenbaum was one of them. He bought the kidneys, mostly in Israel, for around $10,000, and sold them onward in the United States for $120,000-160,000—a profit margin that would make drug dealers and hedge funders salivate.
“I am what you call a matchmaker,” Mr. Rosenbaum reportedly told an undercover agent, according to a federal complaint. One seller who made out better than others, netting $25,000 for his kidney, complained about feeling ripped off by the consensual deal. But Rachel Warshower, a supporter of Mr. Rosenbaum, perhaps taking a cue from some economists who support legalized organ trading, told the Associated Press, “There are no victims here.” She continued, “the donors are happy and the recipients are happy.”
Victimless crime or not, Mr. Rosenbaum became the first person to be convicted by the feds for organ trafficking. He’ll spend two and a half years in jail, and will have to forfeit $420,000 that he made (or, at least, was caught making) through the illegal organ sales. Perhaps as a result, he and Soshana Rosenbaum just sold their house in the Mapletown section of Brooklyn for just over $2 million, according to city records.
The home is, as The Star-Ledger once described it, “the most imposing structure on a short block,” a small slice of Gravesend—that tony Syrian Jewish enclave where houses trade for prices that would make Park Slopers gasp—in Mapleton, a middle-class neighborhood in southern Brooklyn wedged between Orthodox Midwood, Sephardic Gravesend and the more diversely Jewish Borough Park. Mr. Rosenbaum purchased the property, likely either vacant land or a tear-down structure, in 2003 for $545,500.
Three stories (plus what appears to be one below grade) of relatively tasteful neoclassical crenulated brick, the new building has a modest cornice and one white bay window with a small balcony—more Gravesend Juliet than South Williamsburg sukkah. The building stands out, but only because of its unreconstructed two-story neighbors; were the building to sit along one of the ritzier streets just west of Ocean Parkway, it might be considered downright sedate.
The structure is home to two condominiums, both of which were sold by the Rosenbaums to one Hendel Abramowitz for around $1 million each in an unlisted trade.