GIORGIO (MR. TIDY PAWS) ARMANI WANTS TO GET DRESSED ON CENTRAL PARK WEST According to real estate sources, Giorgio Armani is no longer minimalist-at least not in Manhattan. In the last couple of years, the deeply tanned style prince has established a real estate beachhead here, with Armani Exchange on lower Broadway for entry-level downtown residents, Emporio Armani on lower Fifth Avenue for the more credit-worthy midtown shopper, and the big white Peter Marino-designed shoe box on Madison Avenue at East 65th Street for the high-end. Now sources say he’s signed a contract to buy the penthouse once owned by actress Marion Davies at 91 Central Park West for almost $3 million.
Mr. Armani has a compound on the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria, as well as homes in Milan and St. Tropez-but this penthouse is comparatively modest. Most recently priced at $2.975 million, it’s an elegantly renovated two-bedroom place totaling 2,700 square feet on the top of a 1921 building. Views are north, south and west-that’s right, it doesn’t even face the park head-on. But there are 4,000 square feet worth of terraces and park views. There’s also a library and two fireplaces, one in the master bedroom. Maintenance is $3,500 per month.
For a Central Park West prewar, the building is surprisingly celebrity-barren; you’re basically talking Liam Neeson, Natasha Richardson and a slew of families. The co-op board rejected Mariah Carey’s bid for this apartment. So in the bad-karma game of second-guessing the co-op board, competitive brokers came up split: On the one hand, to be the home of the most famous Italian designer “is not the profile on that building,” said one broker. If things don’t work out there for Mr. Armani, “I wouldn’t be surprised.” On the other hand, said another broker, Ms. Carey “hangs out with Puffy,” referring to the controversial rapper and hip-hop producer Sean (Puffy) Combs. As for Mr. Armani getting past the board, “He’d fly in,” said the broker.
Note to the co-op board: If neatness counts, the aloof Mr. Armani is nicknamed by his architect “Mr. Tidy Paws.” Mr. Armani was not available for comment.
941 Park Avenue
Five-bed, 5.5-bath, 4,600-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $4 million. Selling: $3.95 million.
Maintenance: $4,683; 40 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: one year.
ARPELS’ PARK AVENUE JEWEL IS HAWKED Claude Arpels was no ordinary engagement-ring-hawking gem dealer. The head of the American operations of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelers, founded by his family in 1867 in Paris, he opened the company’s Fifth Avenue store in 1939 and lived with his wife and children in this 13-room duplex near East 81st Street. Most of America probably knows Van Cleef & Arpels for their gift certificates, which were given away as prizes on Wheel of Fortune. But Mr. Arpels had a famous gem collection that inspired George Balanchine to choreograph the 1967 plotless three-hour ballet Jewels, which opened New York City Ballet’s repertory season on Jan. 6. (One of his dancers remembered that after Balanchine thought up the concept for Jewels, he took the whole cast to the Fifth Avenue shop of Van Cleef & Arpels. “It was thrilling. We decked ourselves out in gems and had our photos taken.”) Mr. Arpels died in 1990, and his widow, Malou Arpels, put the apartment on the market last year. It occupies a high, Park Avenue-fronting corner of the very proper 1928 white-glove building. If you’re of a certain income bracket, it’s what you’d call a good family apartment: In addition to the five bedrooms, there’s a library, four maids rooms contiguous to the apartment and an additional one on the building’s second floor. Originally, the place was on the market for $5 million, but after some indecision about whether Mrs. Arpels really wanted to sell, the price was dropped. The first people who looked at it-back when it was $5 million-bought it. They’ve now been accepted by the co-op board, on which none other than Tom Brokaw sits. Broker: Key Ventures Inc. (Laurance Kaiser).