Lou Reed manager, facilitator of albums by the Who and Eric Clapton and breeder of the champion racehorse Zenyatta, Eric Kronfeld, a tough-talking lawyer and record executive, died last spring after a battle with cancer. He passed his last years comfortably, though, in a regal home eminently suited to a man of his prowess in matters both commercial and equestrian.
Sources tells us that the new owner of Mr. Kronfeld’s townhouse at 38 East 68th Street, which just sold at ask for $12.49 million after less than three weeks on the market, is a man whose professional concerns center on shipping and real estate. But he certainly spends like he can afford a polo pony or two. And Francis O’Shea, who held the listing at Leslie J. Garfield & Co., told us with a chuckle that the buyer felt no need of a big mortgage.
Five stories tall and 16 feet wide, the house dates to 1878 and had its facade refinished in limestone in 1910, leaving it grandly bowed and carved with cherubs, wreaths and scrollwork. Leaded windows and a black iron gate look out on a sought-after block, which lies steps from Central Park and Museum Mile, and which also houses the Council on Foreign Relations. (A handy neighbor, perhaps, for the shipping magnate with troubled waters to cross?) The home’s 7,000 square feet contain five bedrooms—including a master suite with a sitting room—original hardwood flooring and handcrafted plaster frieze work. Occupying a mezzanine, up a few steps from a grand, sunken entryway, the first floor, which Mr. O’Shea regards as a kind of “salon,” boasts a hand-painted fresco circa 1910.
“People have tried to imitate this kind of thing and it looks hideous,” Mr. O’Shea said. “But this is really beautiful.”
While many original details constitute an unusual treasure, others will be stricken from the record. “I actually think the new owner will end up doing a gut renovation,” Jed Garfield, managing partner at Leslie J. Garfield, told the Observer. Mr. Kronfeld lived in the house for some 12 years. “It seems like the overall market doesn’t view anything as being renovated. Even though [the buyer] liked the original details, he’s probably going to redo at a minimum the kitchen and bathrooms.”
Such renovations, of course, demand considerable additional investment. Mr. O’Shea remained confident, however, that the buyer would not be cowed by contractors’ estimates. “He’s planning on renovating and using the property to raise his young family.” After all, he said, a (somewhat-larger) townhouse nearby, which required conversion to a single-family layout, sold a few years ago for roughly $5 million more.
“Frankly,” Mr. O’Shea concluded, “this is a good price for the neighborhood.”