Robert A.M. Stern’s 15 Central Park West may be the hottest building in New York, but the good fortune hasn’t crept up the western edge of the park, which still plays second fiddle to the Fifth and Park when it comes to closing prices. There are some standouts, though, and the townhouse at 247 Central Park West is most definitely among them. Whether it stands out tall enough to get its $37 million ask is another question entirely.
Built in 1887, it’s the first townhouse you encounter on Central Park West—a rare holdout to withstand two waves of rapacious early 20th century redevelopment. The first, around the turn of the century and the construction of the city’s first subway on Broadway, saw developers raze townhouses and tenements all around No. 247 and its two neighbors on the block to erect apartment houses of a dozen or so floors. During the second boom, around the time the IND Eighth Avenue Line was being built underneath Central Park West and right before the Great Depression, the pressure mounted and builders strove for even loftier heights, with buildings as tall as the 30-story El Dorado eating away at what remained of the low-slung real estate.
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Artist Cai Guo-Qiang is best known for blowing things up—he designed the opening and closing ceremony fireworks shows for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and once built a “10,000-meter barricade of fire [that] was sustained with 1300 pounds of gunpowder” in the middle of the Gobi Desert. But for the sake of his new neighbors, he might have to temper those artistic urges at home: the Chinese contemporary artist just bought the penthouse at 542 Broadway, in SoHo.
Mr. Cai and his wife, Hong Hong Wu, picked up the massive 4,120-square foot spread for $5.95 million—a price that would surely make his father, an ardent communist who “thinks Communism now is ruined,” according to his son, by the cultural and economic freedoms that the country has experienced since over the past few decades, wish for a Cultural Revolution redux.
“Celebrating every day, no more public housing,” rapped Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. Biggie Smalls, in the single ”Juicy” from his debut album Ready to Die (four years before his actual death), “Thinking back on my one-room shack.”
Not so, says his mother, Volleta Wallace. “I heard I live in a shack!” Ms. Wallace told documentarian Nick Broomfield for his 2002 feature film, Biggie & Tupac. “I had a 7.5-room apartment.”
Tobias Meyer, a chairman of Sotheby’s and worldwide head of its contemporary art department, has been watching the contemporary art world for more than two decades from the auction rostrum. This week and next, in the midst of a persistent recession, he’ll try to hammer down nearly $400 million of art. We talked Read More