Recent Transactions in the Real Estate Market

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993 Park Avenue

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,600-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $625,000. Selling: $615,000.

Maintenance: $2,129; 31 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: five months.

DARLING, WE BELONG TOGETHER. The fact that this was Marlene Dietrich’s New York apartment, which she bought in 1959 and abandoned for Paris in the late 1970’s, didn’t seem to help it sell. It went on the market back in July for $1 million and to much notice in the press. One deal had already derailed when a second deal, reported in this column in September, fell through. But it would seem, judging by the woman who finally bought the apartment recently, that it was all in the stars. Terri Sanderson, the eventual buyer, has a bit of a Marlene Dietrich memorabilia-collecting rap sheet. At the Sotheby’s auction last fall, she bought two paintings–one of a log cabin with smoke curling up out of its chimney and one by Carl Hirshburg of a couple picnicking in Connecticut–and a couple of brass bird-shaped doorknobs that probably went on Dietrich’s closet doors. “They weighed one and a half tons because I have the whole lock mechanism,” reported Ms. Sanderson, who paid $900 for the pair. “I just thought that it would be so fantastic for these things to come home to roost.” That was Nov. 1, and she remembers thinking, “Here I was buying these things, and I haven’t even submitted my board package,” she said. “What if I ended up buying Joe Schmo’s apartment?” Fortunately, things went well and after a long closing, the apartment was hers. “I didn’t buy it because I said, ‘Oh my God, it was Marlene Dietrich’s apartment,'” insisted Ms. Sanderson from her home in Florida (she doesn’t have a place to live here until the Dietrich apartment is finished). “I just love the bones. I love the location. But since it is, it just takes on a persona. As I go around the world on my travels, everyone has a story about Marlene.” When her broker, Michele Kleier, called her about seeing the Dietrich apartment, she said, “I have an English paper to write.” (The buyer of the Dietrich apartment recently went back to school.) Besides, she assumed it was going to cost millions of dollars. But Ms. Kleier got her away from her books long enough to check it out. “I walked in and the place was empty and disgusting and old,” said Ms. Sanderson. “I think it has 60 amps of power.” Except for visits from Dietrich’s daughter and grandchildren, the place had sat moldering. The parquet floors were covered in shag carpeting; there were monogrammed towels still hanging in the bathroom; the floor tiles in the kitchen were yellow. “I said I love it. She knew I liked to buy things in that condition,” said Ms. Sanderson. By making the offer quickly and in all cash, the broker convinced the estate to lower the price. Now Ms. Sanderson is busily renovating. “I have seen the apartment for, like, six and a half minutes,” she said. “I just got the pictures from my architect, and I’m like, Oh my God, what have I done? It’s going to be great, but what have I done?” She said that the estate promised her those bathroom towels as a bonus, but she’s still waiting to hear from them on that. “I have these dumb mirrors, too,” she said. “Because she had smoked-glass mirrors all over the place, including in the bedroom, which I am taking off.” Broker: Gumley Haft Kleier Inc. (Michelle Kleier); Sotheby’s International Realty.

200 East 69th Street (Trump Palace)

Three-bed, three-bath, 1,450-square-foot postwar condo.

Asking: $899,000. Selling: $840,000.

Charges: $1,227. Taxes: $518.

Time on the market: 3.5 months.

EVERYTHING GOES BUT THE STUFFED FISH. Trump Palace sticks out: Tall and peach-colored and vaguely Art Deco, the 1990 condo stands in isolation amid brownstones and less ambitious apartment buildings near Third Avenue. According to broker Michael Shuster, you can see the skyline of Central Park South from this apartment, which is only on the 10th floor. The seller was a woman with a first degree black belt in tae kwon do. Mostly her son used the apartment while he was writing his doctoral thesis. She didn’t have much attachment to the place when she decided to sell it–it wasn’t exactly a repository of family heirlooms. “The owner said you could buy it furnished,” said the broker. “There were prices on everything, including an antique map for like 7,000 bucks.” The only thing money could not buy was the fishing trophy–one of those lacquered-looking dead fish stuck to a plaque–on the living room wall. Dead fish notwithstanding, “It was impeccably done up,” said the broker; he was especially impressed with the extra-fancy kitchen, the nine-foot ceilings and the thick, rich-looking paint job. But the buyer passed on the furniture. Broker: William B. May Real Estate (Michael Shuster); A. Dupont Realty (Robert Sussman).

Upper West Side

308 West 91st Street, near Riverside Drive

4,000-square-foot prewar town house.

Asking: $1.395 million. Selling: $1.3 million.

Time on the market: nine months.

WRECKING BALL OF COURAGE. Four years ago, the sellers of this 100-year-old town house bought it intending to do their kids a favor. The bay-windowed brownstone had been divided into four apartments, and they had the idea of putting a roof over their kids’ heads by letting them move in. But while this family-togetherness idea never panned out–the kids left town–the whole thing wasn’t a total bust: They made almost $500,000 when they sold the place recently. The buyer is a CBS producer who wants a home big enough for her family. She’s going to renovate it back to a single-family home. The house is in good shape: 10-foot ceilings, a fireplace on every floor, an intact stoop. It even has the original shutters in the windows. But don’t expect to finish up the renovation in 48 hours: “Ooh, it’s going to take nine months to a year,” estimated the broker. As Dan Rather put it, “Courage.” Broker: William B. May (Midge LaGuardia).

127 West 79th Street (Clifton House)

One-bed, one-bath, 900-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $395,000. Selling: $360,000.

Maintenance: $1,276; 60 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

IF ELOISE WAS A DOG. “We just got back from Club Med,” said tanned and well-rested broker Emma O’Brien, meaning herself and the buyer of this penthouse apartment in a dog-friendly building. The two became friends over the last year while finding the buyer a new apartment. When all this started, the buyer had been renting in a building in the West 60’s that was a little uptight: “They made her carry her dog in the service elevator with the recyclables and the Chinese deliveryman,” said the broker, exasperated. But the buyer wasn’t just doing this for her pooch. She also wanted outdoor space. (Never mind that she’s afraid of heights.) This apartment sits atop a 17-floor former hotel that was built in 1926 and converted to a co-op in 1985. It’s pet-friendly, and there’s a wrap terrace that takes in “beautiful city views.” After settling on the apartment, she gutted it and is in the midst of renovating. In the meantime, she and her broker decided to go to Club Med. “I thought it was going to be a bunch of cheeseheads, but it was awesome,” reported Ms. O’Brien. So in the end, the sellers are going to move to their country house full-time, and the dog gets to ride in the elevator like a real person. Broker: Halstead Property Company (Emma O’Brien, John Edwards).

Recent Transactions in the Real Estate Market