Jonathan Newhouse’s New House; Tom Wolfe’s 80’s Pad

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JONATHAN’S NEW HOUSE, AMID CONDÉ NAST’S STARLETS. It turns out that London-based Condé Nast prince Jonathan Newhouse bought a 25-foot-wide house on West 12th Street earlier this year, just as there was speculation that he was the heir apparent to S.I. Newhouse Jr.’s empire of glossies. According to real estate records, he paid $2.8 million for the house, which is located on one of those esthetically impeccable blocks between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

Real estate sources said he and his wife, Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, have hired an architect, but moving in is a long-term plan. “Renovations have not begun,” said one broker. When in town, the couple had been living in a corporate-owned apartment at the Promenade, a condominium on the Upper East Side. Dee Simonson, the broker who represented the Newhouses, had no comment.

When Mr. Newhouse, 45, chairman of Condé Nast International, bought the house, it was divided into a duplex, where the owner lived, and a triplex that had been rented out. There had been a veterinarian’s office on the ground floor. Combined, the house should be suitably grand for an heir apparent to a scent-strip-scented family concern: According to the listing, there’s a 20-foot by 47-foot living room with a 14-foot-high ceiling, a “greenhouse kitchen” overlooking the garden, two bedrooms and a spa on the third floor, a terrace overlooking the garden on the fourth and three bedrooms up top. Don’t worry, there’s an elevator.

Ronnie Cooke Newhouse has worked at one of the family’s magazines, Details , and as creative director for Calvin Klein; in 1997, she was commuting via Concorde to work. Mr. Newhouse took charge of international publications in 1989 and has expanded the company’s foreign titles aggressively recently–including a Russian edition of Vogue in September. (“Whether a woman is a princess or a prostitute, she still has to dress herself,” he declared last year to a reporter). This after the Yale University fine arts major gave up a life of painting and contemplation to join the family business, which married journalism to the shilling of consumer finery.

The five-story brick house isn’t far from several of Condé Nast’s overpaid editorial employees, Graydon Carter, James Truman and Anna Wintour. Mr. Newhouse did not return a call requesting comment on the purchase.

Upper East Side

East 90’s and Third Avenue

Three-bed, 2.5-bath, 1,800-square-foot postwar apartment.

Asking: $693,000. Selling: $675,000.

Charges: $1,817; 68 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one day.

WINDOWS ON YOUR WARDROBE. The investor who bought and reconfigured this apartment–which started life as two separate units– renovated it completely: hardwood floors, huge eat-in kitchen, the works. As a result, the young family who bought it actually has a closet–formerly the second kitchen–with a window in it. “From a practical point of view, it could be a little office,” said the broker, Jane Goldberg, who sold these buyers on the place in a single afternoon. The family–a married couple with a 2-year-old boy–had been apartment-searching casually since August 1997. Time to get serious before Junior understands what a year’s worth of carefree house-hunting cost his college fund. Broker: William B. May Company (Jane Goldberg).

63 East 66th Street

7,000-square-foot town house.

Asking: $3.9 million. Selling: $3.75 million.

Time on the market: six months.

CLEAN AND SOBER: BEER MOGUL EXPECTS ANOTHER $3 MILLION. A British pub magnate, whose career change from bar mogul to real estate investor has been chronicled in this column, just became one building wiser. He purchased this town house–nine blocks south of the one he chose for himself–on Aug. 20. According to broker Richard Steinberg, this 20-foot-wide mansion has a living room with Belgian wood paneling dating to the 1500’s and four separate outdoor spaces, including terraces off the guest bedroom and the dining room. The British investor will be gut-renovating the place–except, of course, for the Renaissance-era detailing–and fashioning six bedrooms and two reception rooms out of it. He’ll even be stripping the facade of some of its bricks, making a brick-and-limestone combination. When the work is finished, he expects to reel in $6.9 million–and will only sell it to a single occupant. Renters, it seems, are overrated. Broker: Ashforth Warburg Associates (Richard Steinberg).

Low East 60’s off Park Avenue

Five-story town house.

Asking: $3.6 million. Selling: $3.45 million.

Time on the market: five months.

MARITAL CHECKMATE. It was a Tuesday night. A father of three came home from a long day at work. He sat down beside his wife and pulled out a document. It was a contract for a house in Greenwich, Conn. The wife was miffed. The gentleman was brief: If she didn’t find them a new home in Manhattan by Friday, they’d be heading north. The next day, she was on the scene of this town house near Park Avenue, where she put in a bid. Mom and Dad and their three kids–ages 3, 7 and 10–were lifelong New Yorkers, partial to the Upper East Side. After two years of frustrating co-op searches and a brief stab at the town house market, Dad got fed up. Mom got serious. The house is in pretty good shape, but the décor isn’t to their taste, so it’s a fix-me-up. Since there are six bedrooms, each child will have his own, leaving room for guests–if the two older kids ever stop bickering over who gets the room with a terrace! And one of the girls has successfully negotiated for a dog–Daddy’s little girl! Broker: Halstead Property Company (Ruth Dann); Douglas Elliman (Marilyn Miller).

232 East 62nd Street

Four-story, 4,200-square-foot prewar town house.

Asking: $2.5 million. Selling: $2.350 million.

WHERE Tom Wolfe WITNESSED THE 80’S. From the late 1970’s until he sold it in 1990, Tom Wolfe lived in this 20-foot-wide painted brownstone. The house, which has all the usual original details, was divided into four apartments, but, quite eccentrically, Mr. Wolfe and his family lived there as if it wasn’t. (You didn’t have to travel far if you needed to get to a kitchenette–there was one on every floor.) The fussily dressed 68-year-old wrote The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) while living there before buying the 12-room apartment he shares with his wife Sheila and their two teenage kids a few blocks north. Presumably, he was helped along in the move by the $5 million to $7 million he reportedly got for his much-delayed follow-up blockbuster, A Man in Full , as well as the money he got for the failed movie version of Bonfire . “The people after Tom Wolfe did major work on the house,” said Leslie Garfield, whose firm just sold the house. Still, the people who purchased the house from Mr. Wolfe also lived inside what was really four apartments. On a more practical level, the house does have central air-conditioning. Ten months ago, the owners decided to rent the house out, with the option to buy at a fixed price. The renters exercised that option, which gave them a pretty good deal, considering the escalating price of town houses. Broker: Leslie J. Garfield & Company; Corcoran Group.

Upper West Side

160 West 66th Street (3 Lincoln Center)

Two-bed, 2.5-bath, 1,428-square-foot condo.

Asking: $895,000. Selling: $885,000.

Charges: $877. Taxes: $280.

Time on the market: one year.

FANS OF THE OPERA. A married couple just bought this 41st-floor pied-à-terre . The building has two entrances: one directly to the street and another on Lincoln Plaza itself. In terms of renovations, none will be necessary–the building, which is under 10 years old, is in mint condition. Since they especially wanted this part of town, expect to see these folks at the opera. Broker: Corcoran (Dan Douglas and Carrie Chiang).

East Midtown

100 United Nations Plaza (at East 48th Street)

One-bed, one-bath, 850-square-foot postwar condo.

Asking: $375,000. Selling: $370,000.

Charges: $607. Taxes: $360.

Time on the market: seven months.

THEIR NEXT TITLE: PROTOCOL ? The day before Jonathan Newhouse bought his West 12th Street town house (see box), his Uncle Si’s company, Advance Magazine Publishers, which is better known as Condé Nast, bought this unit, their second in this condo tower. The building is chockablock with diplomats and other foreign nationals who work across the street at the United Nations. There’s a health club on the premises. The 16th-floor unit, which has a little balcony, faces south–so it looks right into the chest of the Trump World Tower that’s being built a block down, on East 47th Street. A Condé Nast spokesman did not respond to calls made by The Observer as to exactly who is going to use it and for what. (Pooch-equipped fabulous editorialistas be warned: The building has banned dogs.)


11 West 30th Street

Two-bed, one-bath, 1,700-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $489,000. Selling: $485,000.

Charges: $1,582; 70 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: four weeks.

TRIBECA NORTH? PRETTY LOFTY CLAIMS. The woman painter who bought this loft apartment will live essentially in a glass house. There are windows all around, with exposures to the north and west. The painter’s broker, Paul Burton, thinks this part of town–in this case, a block between Fifth and Sixth avenues, just off the Flatiron district–is ideal for loft-seekers who want to work and live at home. “It seems very commercial and yet at the same time there are quite a few hidden residential buildings,” he said. Kind of like TriBeCa on a budget. Broker: Corcoran (Paul Burton).


302 Elizabeth Street

One-bed, 1.5-bath, 1,200-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $315,000. Selling: $315,000.

Charges: $1,800; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one month.

SAMPLES IN HER CLOSET. Allegra Colletti, the twentysomething fashion stylist who bought this ground-level loft, feels very at home in her new NoHo neighborhood. “It’s really great, because you walk outside and really feel like you’re with your people. Down here, it’s the rule–as opposed to the exception–to be a creative person.” Ms. Colletti, who just shot Slums of Beverly Hills actress Natasha Lyonne for Los Angeles Magazine , needed the extra-big closet in this apartment for the vintage pieces and clothing samples she collects for shoots. “I’ve never eaten so well as I have since I moved here,” she said. In the last 30 years, the five floors of the building became residential units, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that 302 Elizabeth actually went co-op. Appropriately for Ms. Colletti, the building was previously a millinery factory, as evidenced by the buttons and pins uncovered when renovations were done on another apartment. Broker: Corcoran (Margaret Heffernan).

Jonathan Newhouse’s New House; Tom Wolfe’s 80’s Pad