In the tradition of the nation’s most successful capitalists, the hotel and casino executive Phil Ruffin has a knack for extracting as many dollars as possible from whatever his holdings happen to be. Clocking in at #222 on Forbes‘ most recent list of the world’s 400 wealthiest citizens—with a net worth of $2.5 billion—Mr. Ruffin began his rise as a humble gas station owner in Kansas, where he realized that he could inflate profits by firing attendants and having motorists pump gas for themselves. He subsequently leased his gas stations to a French oil company, and bought and sold a hotel, clearing more than $1 billion on the deal. Lately, Mr. Ruffin has been lobbying hard to convince the good people of Kansas to allow slot machines at his Wichita greyhound track. (After all, out-of-work gas station attendants ought to be able to play a little video poker when the dogs aren’t running, right?)
No one would say that Mr. Ruffin lacks real estate sense, and if he gets the $8.195 million he’s asking for his condo at 515 Park Avenue—the figure indicated by a new listing at Douglas Elliman, where Jennine Gourin is handling the property—it will be one more resource well-used. Mr. Ruffin bought the apartment in 2000 for $2.79 million, according to city records.
A resident of Las Vegas, where he owns the Treasure Island resort and lives in a 73,000 square-foot mansion once owned by the Sultan of Brunei, Mr. Ruffin does not appear to have had a strong hand in decorating his Park Avenue apartment. Aside from a couple of chairs upholstered in tiger-print, the unit looks tastefully bland. A two-bedroom with living-room views of Park Avenue, the apartment boasts ample entertaining space, glossy high-end bathroom appointments and a luxe contemporary kitchen. And browsing photos of the place, we cannot help but agree with the listing’s characterization of the building—a Zeckendorf confection that shares more than a little DNA with 15 CPW—which it likens to “Europe’s finest luxury hotels.”
We’re not sure how much time Mr. Ruffin cares to spend in Europe, but we can sympathize with his desire to shed a place that feels like a hotel (the apartment is noticeably absent of anything resembling a personal items—the kitchen is particularly barren). Then again, maybe to a man who spends his time at greyhound tracks, casinos and convenience stores, the apartment feels downright homey.