Over the years, record executive Todd Moscowitz has held a number of bold-faced titles at some of the music industry’s largest companies. He has been head of Russell Simmons’ Rush Communications, served as general manager of Def Jam Records and as CEO of Warner Brother Records. In a 1998 New York Times article chronicling New Year’s revelry on the island of St. Bart’s, Mr. Moscowitz, then 28, appears beside personalities including Mr. Simmons, Olivier Picasso, Anna Wintour and a young man known at the time as Sean “Puffy” Combs. But more recently, he has focused his attentions—together with fellow Def Jam and Warner alum Lyor Cohen—on a label dubbed 300, after the film of the same title and oriented, like the movie’s badly-outnumbered Spartans, toward doing more with less. That impulse can be detected, too, in Mr. Moscowitz’s latest real estate transaction, which, The Observer has learned, involves the acquisition of a three-bedroom condo at 345 West 13th Street, for the price of $4.56 million. Read More
A native of Tehran, the artist Ali Banisadr immigrated to New York as a child, a refugee of the war between Iran and Iraq. It was his experience as a victim that in large part informs his work, which evokes “displacement, memory, nostalgia and violence,” in the estimation of one gallerist. Mr. Banisadr’s experience was no doubt life-altering, but we would say that more or less any serious artist—working in more or less any medium—tends to check those thematic boxes at one time or another. Take the Notorious B.I.G., for example, who can cross off all four in a single song! (To wit: “Things Done Changed,” the opening track off Biggie’s 1994 debut album Ready To Die.)
And now, Mr. Banisadr shares the legendary rapper’s old neighborhood—in addition to his artistic concerns. He’s just purchased a penthouse apartment at 105 Lexington Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant for $1.25 million, according to city records. Read More
Filmmaker Joel Schumacher contributed in no small way to the Hollywood iconography of the 1980s and 90s, directing Brat Pack staples St. Elmo’s Fire and The Lost Boys, and taking over the Batman franchise from Tim Burton. Mr. Schumacher likewise started off strong in the aughts, launching Colin Farrell’s career with 2000′s Tigerland. But as the years went on, Mr. Schumacher’s output largely failed to make waves, and then Christopher Nolan rolled out Batman Begins, whose very title seemed intended to erase the efforts of Messrs. Burton and Schumacher, and which was filmed in a city that was very obviously not Mr. Schumacher’s native Gotham. Now the director, too, seems poised for a change of scenery, having just sold his Greenwich Village condo at 25 Fifth Avenue for $1.6 million, according to city records. Andy Fink, Alex Nicholas and A.J. Wilkerson, of Corcoran shared the listing. Read More
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. Read More
Kim and Debbie Fennebresque were understandably put out last year when Brett Wyard, a former Carlyle executive, backed out of a $11.5 million contract to buy their floor through co-op at 800 Park Avenue. No shrinking violets—Mr. Fennebresque is the former CEO of the boutique investment advisory firm Dahlman Rose and his wife one of the first women to graduate from Yale College—the couple filed suit in August against Mr. Wyard, who had already put down a $1.15 million payment in escrow. (In trying to extricate himself from the deal, Mr. Wyard cited problems with plumbing and other systems in the apartment.)
But just now, the Fennebresques might well be thankful for Mr. Wyard’s difficult behavior, given that they’ve managed to sell the place for $12 million—a full half-million more than the first contract promised, though still a half-million less than the asking price—according to city records. Read More
There remains a single full-floor penthouse available at Herzog and de Meuron’s much-discussed Tribeca tower 56 Leonard Street—a 5,489 square-foot spread on the 58th floor, currently asking $31 million. But that space proved too small, according to Corcoran Sunshine’s Elizabeth Unger, for the buyers who have just entered contract—at a total of $28.75 million—on a pair of condos eight floors down, out of which they will create a 6,947 square-foot floor-through. Ms. Unger, who brokered the sale, ranked the contract as the building’s fifth priciest deal to date. The buyers, she told The Observer, are in renovation talks with an architect and a designer, whose no-doubt considerable fees—we imagine—might just push expenditures well beyond the $31 million mark. (Penthouse 60, boasting elevation greater than any other unit, claimed the top spot in June, with a contract for $47 million.) Read More
Austerity Measures: Wife of Former Lazard Captain Shifts from Greenwich Manse to $11.2 M. Park Avenue Condo
With her 19,000 square foot mansion in Greenwich sold, it should come as no surprise that Cynthia Biondi—the wife of Lazard chieftain Michael Biondi, who died in 2007 at the age of 50—is headed to Park Avenue. Though Ms. Biondi’s Connecticut estate failed to claim its $26.5 million asking price, it did manage an entirely respectable $25 million—enough for plenty of square footage even in the city’s fanciest buildings. But rather than to 720, 778 or 740 Park, Ms. Biondi has elected to relocate to the slightly less hallowed 737 Park Avenue, where she recently purchased a three-bedroom corner unit for $11.2 million, according to city records. Read More
And Then There Was One: Single Unit Remains at 135 East 79th, as Financier Snaps Up PH for $22.45 M.
Some months back, James Lansill, a senior managing director at the Corcoran Sunshine group told us that a good number of buyers at the Brodsky Organization’s luxe, ultra-popular 135 East 79th Street condo tower were highly sophisticated empty-nesters from the neighborhood looking to downsize. Not so Michael Gross, the 51-year-old CEO of Solar Capital—a financial firm specializing in debt and investments in leveraged companies—who has just paid $22.45 million for one of the building’s two 17th-floor penthouses, according to city records. (The lone available listing in the new building, which inspired a feeding frenzy last year, is currently asking $22.35 million; Mr. Gross’s pad, slightly larger than the yet-unspoken-for unit, was last listed for $23.5 million.)
When the Belgian artist Marc Lambrechts bought the compound at 164 South Oxford Street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, in 2000, he had no notion that it would prove such a savvy investment. Back then, he recently told The Observer, “The market was still no good”—evidenced by the fact that Mr. Lambrechts initially paid less than $900,000 for the compound.
The property, which spans 64.5 feet along South Portland Avenue and 43 feet along South Oxford Street, houses an 1865 brick Italianate mini-mansion that is configured currently as a double-duplex and a studio apartment, and a carriage house containing two one-bedroom apartments. A broad expanse of lawn separates the two structures, the smaller of which Mr. Lambrechts in-part converted to studio space, while living himself in an adjacent single-family townhouse, and renting out the apartments at 164 South Oxford. “I was right next door, so the whole thing was very open,” he said. “It was kind of like a communal living situation, with kids always running from here to there. It was very nice. But I just got tired of taking care of it.” Read More
Brooklyn, as we all know, is not merely a place, but an idea, an image, a brand. The borough’s most attractive and—depending on who you talk to—annoying qualities and products have been exported out of state and across oceans, over hill and dale, to far flung regions of the earth. There are no doubt many parties responsible for this phenomenon, but Lara Fitch, CEO and founder of the website, retailer and lifestyle chronicler Strolby, is certainly among them.
Offering twee clothing, tchotchkes, toys and home goods from Kings County’s most local and authentic boutiques, Strolby “helps little shops reach big audiences so our neighborhoods can still feel small.” Given her commitment to the borough where she has lived for some 10 years, we can only guess that she and her husband Ted Lazarus, a lawyer for Google, will not abandon it now that they have sold for $1.75 million their condo at 659 Carroll Street, in Park Slope. Read More