7:45 AM: Ryan Serhant, the former hand model/soap opera actor-turned-real estate superstar, beats The Observer to his Tribeca office by an hour. “I’m always the first one in,” brags the 28-year-old broker at Nest Seekers International, a boutique real estate brokerage firm.
He has been up since 4:23 a.m, was at the gym by 5 a.m. and in the office shortly thereafter. When we offer to go for a bleary-eyed coffee run, he yells from his office, “Don’t forget to write about how you were an hour late!”
The first time The Observer met Niki and Shaokao Cheng, it was July, during the opening night of Julio Gaggia’s art show. Mr. Gaggia, the boyfriend of the plastic surgeon Mark Warfel, was preparing his work “Living Art: Chelsea Boy Apartment,” during which he would live for five days as a window display model at the BoConcept furniture store on West 18th Street. He spent the week eating, sleeping, working—and performing other, less-mentionable activities—in a showroom that divided him from gawkers outside with a pane of glass.
While we lounged about on the display furniture, socialite photographer Patrick McMullan brought over a petite woman with short, pixie-cropped hair.
“Niki is one of the few Power Asians in New York society,” he loudly whispered, flourishing Ms. Cheng before us. She smiled shyly and posed for a photograph before excusing herself.
It would be two weeks before we realized that Ms. Cheng and her husband owned the store where we had dropped more than one canapé between the cushions of a $3,000 couch.
In fact, the couple owns all five locations of the Danish furniture store in New York City, and another two in New Jersey. But the stores themselves aren’t the reason Mr. McMullan calls the Chengs “Power Asians.” Rather, it’s the couple’s seemingly innate social instincts, their ability to leverage a fairly cookie-cutter, mid-market design base into a celebrity-filled social whirl. One might say “Only in America,” or (even worse) “Only in New York,” but this wouldn’t exactly cover it. There is a certain type that thrives in Manhattan no matter what they’re selling, no matter where they’re from, no matter how few resources they have upon arriving.
Charles Stiefel’s life has had its share of ups and downs. First he made a fortune when GlaxoSmithKline bought his family’s company for $2.9 billion. But then the S.E.C. closed in after employees claimed that the family had bilked them out of $110 million by hiding crucial information—including plans for the upcoming sale—as it bought their stocks back at extremely low prices. This spring Glaxo settled the first of what will likely be many employee buyback lawsuits for $1.5 million.
Not ones to wallow over a pending fraud case, Mr. Stiefel and wife Danee have apparently spent the last few months looking for apartments to spend some of their possibly ill-gotten gains on. Now, they’re on top of the world again, or at least on the top of 230 West 56th Street, where they bought a penthouse apartment, “the apex of the prestigious Park Imperial Condominium” as the Nestseekers listing held by Ryan Serhant and Nick Jabbour boasts.
We’re not sure what happened between Christina Bloom and apartment 3E at 15 Central Park West. Maybe Ms. Bloom, who bought the two-bedroom, 2.5-bath apartment as a sponsor unit back in 2007, didn’t have a good idea of what the apartment would look like? We would certainly think that a woman who started a dating site based on matching people up with people who look like them would have given the apartment’s aesthetic qualities a careful look before deciding it was the one. But clearly, the apartment was not a good fit for Ms. Bloom, who has been trying to sell the place, on and off, since 2010.
Whatever happened to soul mates? Well, as Ms. Bloom writes about Find Your FaceMate “no matter how attentive, loving and kind a new partner might be, if he or she is not a facial feature match, it’s unlikely you will have the attraction necessary to take your mind off a previous love and offer the possibility of new love.” Intrigued? You can watch her talking more about this technology in her 15 CPW kitchen.
Red Carpet Real Estate
It looks like Lindsay Lohan may not need to camp out at her assistant’s Tribeca apartment forever. Which is great news, as couch surfing can grow old, even for someone like LiLo, accustomed to crashing everywhere from club banquettes to L.A. county lock-up.
Ms. Lohan’s portraitist and rumored lover Domingo Zapata is reportedly checking out townhouses in the West Village, according to The Real Deal, who spotted a tweet from NestSeekers broker Ryan Serhant announcing that he was taking the Spanish artist to view a townhouse on Downing Street.
Red Carpet Real Estate
Celebrity copycats, it turns out, do not restrict their mimicry only to the enviable aspects of a Hollywood star’s life. Now people are scrambling to be just like the soon-to-be-divorced Katie Holmes, The Real Deal reports.
Ms. Holmes, who reportedly signed the lease on Chelsea Mercantile pad a few days before filing for divorce (real estate deals being one of the biggest predictors of a change in relationship status), is said to be generating unprecedented interest in the building. Ryan Serhant, a broker with Nestseeker, tells The Real Deal that interest in one of his listings is five times what it was before Ms. Holmes arrived.