In January, when publishing heiress Janet Annenberg Hooker’s 6,400-square-foot house atop 1 Sutton Place went on the market for $15 million, one agent remarked that the home is “perfect for a husband and a wife who never wanted to see each other again.” The palatial apartment is divided into two wings, both culminating in 40-by-
40-foot “drawing rooms” which overlook the tip of Roosevelt Island and the humming gray mass of the Queensboro Bridge. The price on the apartment eventually dropped to $12.5 million, a relative bargain, which may explain why the place now has found itself a buyer.
One can hardly imagine who might qualify to take ownership of the place. Ms. Hooker bought the apartment in 1963 from Winston and C.Z. Guest, who inherited it from Mr. Guests’ parents, Amy and Frederick Guest. In fact, the building was commissioned by Amy Guest’s father, Henry Phipps, who hired Rosario Candela and Cross & Cross to design 1 Sutton Place in 1926 so his four children could live together, South Fork style, in the same building. The plan worked: None of the Guest children slipped into homelessness, and their officious Italian palazzo is now considered one of the grandest and most snooty apartment houses in the city.
In addition to the two huge drawing rooms, four bedrooms, library, sitting room, two lobbies and central dining room (where Ms. Hooker had her round satinwood dining table that opened to 17 feet), there is 6,000 square feet of outdoor space from which you can survey the neighborhood.
Right now, things are a bit derelict-or as derelict as anything this extensive could ever be. The south drawing room is padded in somewhat discolored rose-colored silk (there are still indentations where paintings used to be); the floor is laid with marble carted off from the destroyed Fifth Avenue mansion of Amy Guest’s father. Ms. Hooker’s throne-style wicker toilets are threadbare, the mantel is missing from one of the fireplaces, and the terrace needs a good planting. But it still offers 360-degree views in the middle of town. In better days, Brooke Astor once said, this apartment made her place look like a pigsty.
Despite the apartment’s current state, the building’s board is prepared to determine selectively who would succeed Ms. Hooker. One interested buyer with a tractor-
trailer full of brand-new money took a look at the Queen Anne paneling in the dining room and said she wanted to make an exercise room out of it. Not to worry, she was shown the door.
Upper East Side
515 East 79th Street (Asten House)
Two-bed, 2.5-bath, 1,200-square-foot postwar co-op.
Asking: $370,000. Selling: $340,000.
Charges: $1,468; 65 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: seven months.
FAST! LAY DOWN THE LAW: NO JULY 4 PARTIES. Erected in 1982, this building is an ultra-chic high-rise with views of the East River. The folks who bought this fourth-floor unit can see the river from their balcony, which, at 60 square feet, is more than large enough for a couple of chairs and a good book. (But no barbecuing! That would be against city ordinances.) He’s a C.P.A. and she works for an attorney. They bought the apartment from an older couple, who built themselves a large house near their grandson in Florida. Broker: Corcoran Group (Carole Healy).
221 East 78th Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,150-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $339,000. Selling: $339,000.
Charges: $1,185; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: one month.
THE QUICKIE MAKES A COMEBACK. This was one of those situations where all parties to the deal wanted everything “fast and simple,” said the broker. The sellers of this second-floor apartment were a Wall Street executive, his wife and their 2-year-old boy. The husband was offered a money-management job in Boston; the family bought a big house up there. Meanwhile, the buyer was an older woman who was craving a second bedroom and decided, damn it, she deserved one since she could afford it. The windowed kitchen has been recently renovated; the floors, which are oak and in good condition, will probably stay bare. It’s a fairly simple, seven-story building with a part-time doorman; this unit’s on the second floor. The buyer “was afraid to lose the apartment.” So she immediately ponied up the asking price, and the papers were signed. Broker: Bellmarc Realty (Lisa Strobing); Halstead Property Company (Nina Hollander).
188 East 76th Street (Siena)
Three-bed, three-bath, 1,633-square-foot condo.
Asking: $1.125 million. Selling: $1.065 million.
Time on the market: eight months.
THE $1 MILLION NEWLYWED SUITE. These buyers are newlyweds. The young husband is a banker, so of course he’s the deal maker in the family. Note the $60,000 savings he got knocked off the asking price between the Friday when they first saw the place and that weekend, when they made an offer. And if Junior comes along, there’s a playroom right in the building, equipped with toys, in addition to the basement health club, doorman and concierge services. Appropriately, the building is only a year old. The apartment won’t need much in the way of renovations and, as the broker put it, everything is “spanking new.” Broker: William B. May Company (Stacey Gero); Corcoran (Leah Ozeri-Bowman).
305 East 40th Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,200-square-foot postwar co-op.
Asking: $340,000. Selling: $333,000.
Charges: $1,086; 60 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: seven weeks.
RUE THE DAY IT’S COOL TO LIVE IN MIDTOWN AGAIN. “This price is record-breaking for the building,” said broker Eric David. And why not? There hasn’t been a two-bedroom apartment available in the building in two years, and “prices have gone up like 60 percent in the last two years.” According to Mr. David, midtown is becoming the affordable East Side neighborhood. No doubt it helps that this particular apartment is a corner unit with both northern and eastern exposures. It’s on the 17th floor (out of 21), and affords views of the nearby Tudor City rooftops. The sellers are an older couple with full-grown kids; he’s retired, and she’ll have an easy commute to her job near Grand Central Terminal. Still, midtown Manhattan will be a change from Riverdale, where the buyers have lived for the last two decades. They’ve already moved a few things in, including bonsai trees that are sitting on the kitchen windowsill. Beyond some basic decorating, though, the apartment needs very little work-“maybe a little painting and scraping the floors, stuff like that,” said Mr. David. Broker: Bellmarc (Eric David).
24 East 30th Street
Four-bed, three-bath, 3,506-square-foot town house.
Asking: $1.45 million. Selling: $1.35 million.
Time on the market: three months.
ALL LEASES SUBJECT TO AN ENTRANCE EXAM. This all-cash purchase was made by a husband and wife who are both deans of law schools. They intend to live in one of the house’s duplexes and rent out the other one. The property, located between Park and Lexington avenues, is a Federal-style red-brick structure with wood trim. Parts of the interior, however, are a little less traditional. According to John Ciraulo, who represented the estate that sold the house, the upper floors of the town house have special flourishes: “with faux-finishing and a lot of black and gray, darker colors.” He added that when they start redecorating the place, the buyers may have a less dramatic palette in mind. The house’s best feature may be its backside: Not only is there a garden terrace in the rear, there’s a fountain, too. Broker: Massey Knakal Realty Services Inc. (John Ciraulo); Equa Realty Inc. (Joe Ciulla).
27 West Ninth Street
5,000-square-foot prewar town house.
Asking: $1.895 million. Selling: $1.8 million.
Time on the market: six months.
COMING TO TERMS WITH THE MAN UPSTAIRS. Until two years ago, this 1855 “Anglo-Italianate”-style town house was operating as a kind of ad hoc co-op; it wasn’t legally a co-op, but individual tenants, including fashion photographer Duane Michaels, owned separate floors. The building is five stories tall, with a 14-foot-high ceiling and a marble mantel with fruit baskets and cherubs carved into it on the parlor floor (in Anglo-Italianate houses, the parlor is on the third floor). Broker David Goldsmith, who lived two doors down, had been in various units in the building when they were up for sale, and had a perfect vantage point from which to watch the “co-op” land in the hands of a bank in 1995. Then he watched it creep through the courts. In 1996, Mr. Goldsmith and his partner swooped in and bought it. It took about a year to shake the tenants out-all except for the top-floor tenant, who was protected by law from moving-and they put in new kitchens and polished it up for resale. “The house was lucky,” said Mr. Goldsmith. Compared to other Village town houses, which lost their charm while being divided into tiny units, “it was cut up at the turn of the century into full-floor apartments so more of the details remained.” The house, with fireplaces and plaster work still intact, also proved to be a popular date: New York magazine caught Gwyneth Paltrow kissing Ben Affleck out front while she was looking at it. At one point Mr. Goldsmith had an offer for $2.3 million if the building could be delivered vacant, but the statutory tenant wouldn’t budge. But a South American couple who own a new Ferrari dealership in Glen Cove, L.I., could live with the tenant. They wanted to be in the Village because they have friends there; Grandma fronted them the money. The new owners will be living in a two-bedroom duplex bridging the garden level and the back half of the second floor, the wife’s sister will occupy a studio in the front of the second floor, and there will be room to expand upstairs if they need it. Broker: D.G. Neary Realty (David Goldsmith); Sotheby’s International Realty.
Correction: The asking price for a town house at 62 St. John’s Place was misstated in the June 22 issue. The house was on the market for $695,000.