A Band-Aid Heiress Leaves River House and Rents in a Trump Building; The Japanese Man Who Shops by Helicopter


JOHNSON & JOHNSON HEIRESS MOVES TO TRUMP INTERNATIONAL FOR $60,000 PER MONTH. This past spring, Band-Aid heiress Elizabeth (Libbett) Johnson, of the Johnson & Johnson Johnsons, was stuck on the idea of buying socialite Nancy Richardson’s fifth-floor apartment and the one below it at 820 Fifth Avenue for what would have been a record-breaking $27 million sale of a co-op apartment. But Ms. Johnson backed out, and now, real estate sources said, she’s just signed a one-year lease to pay $60,000 a month for a five-bedroom apartment at the Trump International Hotel & Tower, on Columbus Circle. Sources said Ms. Johnson plans to live in the apartment.

The apartment, on the 50th floor, weighs in at 5,500 square feet, with six and a half baths, according to sources. The living room measures 1,500 square feet, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering astonishing views south, east and west. According to city real estate records, the 50th-floor unit is owned by Sandie Van Nederveen, who also owns an apartment on the 37th floor. Mr. Van Nederveen bought the 50th-floor unit for $6.75 million in January.

Ms. Johnson’s plan to create one of the largest apartments in town at 820 Fifth foundered on the socially unassailable co-op’s “summer work rules,” according to which renovations, like, say, the dissolving of two separate apartments into one 14,000-square-foot duplex, are restricted to when the building’s well-heeled residents are mostly out in the country. On such a schedule, the renovation would have taken years. Besides, the board was said to be reluctant to let so many of the co-op’s shares accrue in the hands of one buyer.

Regarding her Trump rental, some real estate watchers expressed shock. The Trump International is notorious for its cheapo hollow-core doors and stick-on, off-the-shelf hardware. (Since most buyers renovate so thoroughly, the standard equipment finishes are considered disposable.) Comparatively, Ms. Johnson has lived at such solidly built, solidly respectable buildings as 2 East 67th Street and, lately, in a duplex at the River House, 435 East 52nd Street.

Ms. Johnson has been living in the River House duplex, which she had on the market for $12 million in 1996. One broker familiar with her real-estate attention deficit disorder theorized that she might be renovating it again. Ms. Johnson couldn’t be reached for comment. A spokesman for Sotheby’s International Realty, which rented her the Trump unit, refused comment.


401 East 84th Street (Dunhill)

One-bed, two-bath, 930-square-foot postwar condo.

Asking: $332,000. Selling: $330,000.

Charges: $724. Taxes $341.

Time on the market: two months.

CALL THIS ONE THE LOVE SHACK. This late-80’s high-rise (you know: roof deck, party room, marble baths) is not, despite being named after the fancy English tobacco producer, all Merchant Ivory elegance. Take this unit, a starter apartment that was snapped up by a newlywed couple who had yet to see anything else. It faces south and west, with a cozy dining area and terrace. The seller was the original owner, who had been renting it out for a number of years. (He had moved to the suburbs after getting married.) Back when he lived here, the view was a bit different: A rental tower, called the Strathmore, shot up in the meantime, partially blocking one of the views. But what do newlyweds care for views? Broker: Prudential/M.L.B. Kaye International Realty (Marysue Bailey).


Riverside Drive and 88th Street

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,500-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $845,000. Selling: $815,000.

Maintenance: $1,050; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: two months.

JUST PUT THIS ON MY TAB, MOM. The young attorney who bought this apartment was living in a Houston Street rental until his Park Avenue mom agreed to buy him this emphatically renovated apartment in a 1920’s building on Riverside Drive. Every room has a park or river view through all-new windows and there’s an elaborate kitchen full of those rugged, high-end appliances that look like they could survive being parachuted behind enemy lines so that Private Ryan could eat lemon chicken during recon. His mom even agreed to lay down all cash. The guy’s an incipient lawyer, he has a decent income, but the co-op said that wasn’t enough to qualify for the apartment. Even after the all-cash offer from his mom, the lawyer’s salary and his youth (it’s not a building for swingers) still gave the board some pause, and the closing was delayed over it. But in the end, his apparent responsible sobriety convinced them that he had a future there. And they have his mom’s number if he misbehaves. Broker: Orsid Realty Corporation (Olga Fisher); Stribling & Associates Ltd. (Mercedes Schwartz).


106 Central Park South (Trump Parc)

Three-bed, 3.5-bath, 2,000-square-foot prewar condo.

Asking: $1.95 million. Selling: $1.9 million.

Charges: $1,705. Taxes: $3,325.

Time on the market: three months.

PENTHOUSE SHOPPING BY CHOPPER. Japanese publishing executive Kazuhiko Nishi picked this apartment while hovering over Manhattan in a rented helicopter. Buzzing about Central Park, he spotted the golden top of Trump Parc, a former hotel that Donald Trump converted to condominiums, and the 500-square-foot terrace on the 32nd floor, he said, “That’s my apartment!” Mr. Nishi, an executive at the ASCII Corporation (a publisher of software- and computer-related books and magazines), and a former Microsoft Corporation vice president (he later translated Bill Gates’ book, The Road Ahead , into Japanese) purchased the place in 1998 for $2 million. He then hired the late interior designer Mark Hampton to pour another million bucks into Travertine marble baths, blue silk wall coverings and white furnishings. But he didn’t move in; the place sat fallow between cocktail parties he hosted once or twice a year on the planted terrace. He never even slept there, preferring hotel suites with their services and access to conference facilities. The fact that the building’s tax abatement was lapsing, increasing his charges to almost $5,000 a month, made him interested in selling at the same time that it made it harder to sell. His broker, Dan Leone of the Corcoran Group, advised him that because of the charges, he’d better keep the selling price down to $2 million. “A string of international customers, mostly Asians, South Americans, Greeks and Arabs, filed in.” Not to mention Leonardo DiCaprio, Barbra Streisand and “even Marla Maples, who once lived in the building during her early days with the Donald,” said Mr. Leone. “Her main concern was, could she put a swing set on the terrace.” (Better not push Tiffany too hard.) Finally Mr. Nishi found a buyer in a Greek shipping magnate who “walked in, grabbed hold of his jaw as he gaped at the view, and plunked down $1.9 million cash.” Broker: Corcoran Group (Dan Leone).


127 East 10th Street

Five-story town house.

Asking: $1.35 million. Selling: $1.325 million.

Time on the market: eight months.

MILES TO GO BEFORE I SWEEP? When Howard Wolman, a bachelor and professor of classics, bought this mid-19th-century town house in 1978, his knowledge of the East Village consisted of two things: (1) A student of his had plays produced at a local theater, and (2) the Second Avenue Deli made a mean corned beef sandwich. “That was pretty much all I knew,” said Mr. Wolman. “So when I moved in 20 years ago, I found out about the neighborhood in all sorts of ways.” He bought the house from Lesley Frost Ballantyne, the daughter of Robert Frost. “It was very ironic,” said Mr. Wolman, “because I was an undergraduate at Amherst when her dad was on the faculty. I was a classical literature and language major, and he invited me up for tea once. And when I asked him to autograph my Modern Library Edition [of his poetry], which was all I could afford at the time, I was very bashful, but he was very nice.” Now, 20 years later, Mr. Wolman and his golden retriever, Maximus, have relocated to Key West, and a middle-aged couple with grown children just bought the house. Not only is the property on one of the Village’s prettiest blocks, right across the street from where Stuyvesant Street bisects 10th Street, but there’s an ungated garden in back with a path to St. Mark’s Church. The broker, Thomas Wexler, said that after getting three or four calls a day about the house, he finally had to take the “For Sale” sign down. Even Hollywood took note-20th Century Fox shot scenes from The Object of My Affection there last summer. When the new owners get tired of walking in the garden, they can collect checks: The house contains seven rental units in addition to the owner’s duplex. Broker:

Douglas Elliman (Thomas Wexler and Nancy Weaver).


300 State Street

Four-bed, three-bath, 4,000-square-foot prewar town house.

Asking: $750,000. Selling: $782,500.

Time on the market: two and a half weeks.

THERAPY FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. In the mid-19th century, Boerum Hill, which is located just to the southeast of Brooklyn Heights, was a fashionable district of Greek Revival town houses where you could run into people like Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper and William Cullen Bryant on the sidewalk. Built sometime between 1850 and 1860, this 25-foot-wide, brick and brownstone house has been a single-family mansion since it was new and is even in the National Register of Historic Places. There’s a formal dining room with a wood-burning fireplace on the garden floor; a parlor with garlanded ceiling plasterwork, painted with gold leaf; dual fireplaces and a wet bar; and four bedrooms upstairs. In the basement, there’s a climate-controlled wine cellar; the rest of the house is centrally air-conditioned. The sellers did all this work-including installing a set of rusticated cabinets in the kitchen-in the last four or five years before they decided to move on. The buyers are a psychologist and psychiatrist who’d been trying to raise three presumably well-adjusted kids from a TriBeCa loft dating back to the husband’s bachelor days. After warding off some competitive bidders-and unwilling to spend another night in that loft-they ended up paying more than the asking price. Broker: William B. May Real Estate (Elizabeth Salano). A Band-Aid Heiress Leaves River House and Rents in a Trump Building; The Japanese Man Who Shops by Helicopter