The Year Observed
2012 in review
In time, porcelain chips, silver tarnishes, silk fades and even the bubbliest trophy market goes flat. Nothing lasts forever, least of all the giddy highs of the ultra-luxury housing market, particularly one whose effervescence involves a lot of hot air.
Alas, the deal that kicked off 2012’s trophy craze—the $88 million sale of Sandy Weill’s 15 Central Park West penthouse—looks more and more like a one-off with each passing month. The biggest sale of 2013, a six-story “loft mansion” at 144 Duane Street, clocks in at less than half that amount—a mere $43 million—and $11 million less than the top co-op sale of 2012. The bloom is off the rose. Or rather, the shine is off the trophy. Seems there are only so many Russian billionaires to go around.
The beginning of 2012 started with a closing, the most spectacular closing this city had ever seen: Russian fertilizer king Dmitry Rybolovlev spent $88 million on Sandy Weill’s 15 Central Park West penthouse. Of course, the question on the real estate community’s lips back then was what Mr. Rybolovlev’s buy could mean. Was it just a weird one-off—a tycoon trying to hide funds in the midst of a divorce—or something more? Did we dare to dream that it might be the opening salvo in a trophy hunt?
Indeed, it was. In the months that followed, some of the world’s wealthiest individuals made it clear that they had money to burn and wanted to spend it on New York real estate. Super sales bloomed with the spring flowers. Steve Wynn spent $70 million for a 10,882-square-foot penthouse at the Ritz Carlton. Gary Barnett announced that not one, but two penthouses were in contract for more than $90 million at One57. The penthouse of 18 Gramercy, the Zeckendorfs’ new collaboration with Robert A.M. Stern, in contract for $42 million, is poised to set a new downtown record when it closes.