Gwyneth’s $1.6 Million Pre-Oscar Town House

Oscar-toting actress Gwyneth Paltrow, whose now-standard acceptance speeches are laden with weepy gratitude to her extended family, has never come across as particularly homesick. But, in fact, the Miramax princess officially set down roots of her own last August, when she quietly purchased a landmark, three-story town house in the West Village for $1.6 million.

Ms. Paltrow’s purchase is probably the only thing about the actress’ life that has gone unnoticed by the press since she started taking her clothes off in movies and dating Brad Pitt, her co-star in 1995’s Seven . The 26-year-old Ms. Paltrow auditioned her new house for two years as a renter before buying it from her erstwhile landlord, unobserved by the media. In the meantime, she was conducting a widely publicized house hunt, with and without Mr. Pitt, her former beau.

In early 1996, Ms. Paltrow and Mr. Pitt instructed downtown brokers that for the right property, money would be no object. The couple reportedly saw at least 50 different properties in both Greenwich Village and TriBeCa, but never made a purchase. Meanwhile, they were fixtures in the West Village, with sightings reported at Hogs & Heifers on Washington Street and the Grange Hall on Commerce Street.

By the summer of 1998, the actress was looking for real estate on her own. According to one downtown broker, Ms. Paltrow’s search then included stops at at least two co-ops: 29 East Ninth Street, where a three-bedroom apartment was for sale for $1.15 million, and at the Portsmouth at 42 West 10th Street. “They weren’t terribly exciting,” said the broker.

Ms. Paltrow must have shared that reaction, since she decided last August to purchase the house she had been renting. The house contains three bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, a dining room, a backyard garden and a fireplace where she can prop her golden statuette on the mantel. According to real estate records, the house was constructed in 1841 by Mark Spencer, a merchant and distiller who lived nearby. On Feb. 19, the actress was issued an alterations permit from the city’s Buildings Department to make multiple renovations, among them the removal of a wall, the installation of new plumbing and some mechanical tinkering.

Of course, since she purchased the house, Ms. Paltrow has won a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild award and an Oscar, and her rate has reportedly risen to $10 million per film. It may not even suit her anymore. A publicist for Ms. Paltrow had no comment.

Greenwich Village

JULIA ROBERTS TIRES OF GRAMERCY, SEEKS $2.95 MILLION CO-OP ON FIFTH. Village real estate sources report that 31-year-old actress Julia Roberts has been restless at her current residence near Gramercy Park and has signed a contract for a nine-room, $2.95 million co-op on Fifth Avenue near Washington Square Park.

Ms. Roberts, who recently formed her own production company, Shoelace Productions, paid $2.15 million in 1993 for her two-bedroom penthouse with double-height ceilings, a huge terrace and a view of Gramercy Park. Since then, she has been collecting properties in the building and has had a standing deal

with the building’s management to have first crack at buying other units as they free up. The actress owns at least three units on lower floors, making her total investment in the condominium nearly $3.25 million.

According to real estate sources, the willowy actress has struck a similar arrangement with her broker on the prewar co-op on lower Fifth Avenue, requesting immediate access to apartments that go on the market. Last summer, Ms. Roberts considered buying a two-bedroom, $3 million apartment in the Fifth Avenue building. However, due to a filming schedule that took her to England shortly after she saw the space, she had to forfeit the apartment-which was sold to actress Polly Draper for $2.6 million instead. “She’s been flirting with that building for a while now,” said one downtown broker with knowledge of the


The three-bedroom, three-bath property under contract on Fifth Avenue has crystal fixtures that date to 1903, when the building was first erected; later, the interior was redesigned by architect Peter Marino. One broker familiar with the apartment said it has a “long, narrow hallway that leads off to three bedrooms, all on one side. It’s kind of funky, and that’s why people like it.” With only two apartments on most floors, the building is very private.

A spokesman for the actress said she was not planning to move, but real estate sources said Ms. Roberts signed a contract on March 17-beating out the offers of other interested parties-and that the co-op’s board is expected to meet the week of April 5 to review her application.

Upper East Side

200 East 90th Street (Whitney House)

Three-bed, two-bath, 1,283-square-foot postwar co-op.

Asking: $565,000. Selling: $565,000.

Charges: $1,586; 67 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: six months.

HE WHO DOESN’T NEGOTIATE, WAITS. In February 1998, an investor bought the 75 unsold apartments in the Whitney House, a Carnegie Hill co-op at 200 East 90th Street, near Third Avenue. The company renovated their new properties, combining some, and gradually put the remaining 61 units on the market with the Corcoran Group. The owners reminded their exclusive brokers that buyers would not need board approval, because they would be the first owners of the apartments. But the company also told Corcoran that none of the prices they were asking were negotiatiable. This three-bedroom apartment on the 22nd floor, which was the result of two units being combined and has new kitchens and polished brass fixtures in the bathrooms, was no exception. After six months on the market, a couple with two kids followed the rules and paid $565,000 for the 1,283-square-foot co-op. Broker: Corcoran Group (Gary Brynes).

115 East 90th Street

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,100-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $495,000. Selling: $480,000.

Charges: $1,277; 20 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: two months.

BABY APARTMENT SWAP. The young couple who sold this second-floor apartment bought it in estate condition. Most of the rooms needed only cosmetic work-for instance, the bathroom, which got new fixtures and reglazed porcelain. But the kitchen needed a gut renovation before the couple could cook anything. After three or four years, they decided they needed more space for themselves and their child, so they took residence in a neighborhood rental while they looked at apartments. Meanwhile, another young family of equal size-two parents and a young child-has moved in. They like being on the second floor; they like to pretend they’re in a town house. Broker: Corcoran (Carole Healy).

Upper West Side

1 Central Park West

(Trump International Hotel and Tower)

Three-bed, 3.5-bath, 2,094-square-foot condo.

Asking: $2.85 million. Selling: $2.7 million.

Charges: $1,162. Taxes: $1,479.

Time on the market: four weeks.

THE OILMAN COMETH. A businessman based in Singapore bought this three-bedroom condo in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in the summer of 1997 for $2.2 million-but he has never even spent a night there. Perhaps a little bitter, he ambitiously priced the pad at $3.3 million last fall, when he finally realized he should unload it. That figure was slowly ratcheted down to $3 million, and then to $2.85 million, at which point a retired oil executive who lives in another Trump International, three-bedroom apartment with his wife, who’s also retired, was willing to bite. The couple paid $2.7 million and will rent out their other apartment in the glitzy gold-and-glass Philip Johnson building. Broker: American Real Estate Group (Mika Sakamoto and Michael Weiner).

201 West 70th Street (One Sherman Square)

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,350-square-foot postwar co-op.

Asking: $599,000. Selling: $580,000.

Charges: $1,497; 55 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one year.

CASHING IN ON THE INHERITANCE. A schoolteacher in her 20’s inherited this two-bedroom co-op on West 70th Street-a few floors above her own one-bedroom apartment-after her father passed away. When she decided to sell it, her mother, who had recently sold her town house on West 90th Street for $2.2 million, put her in touch with her broker, Anne Snee. (The mother moved to Vermont with a $2 million profit on the house she had purchased in 1983.) Ms. Snee found a single male psychiatrist who was so busy seeing patients that he could go home-shopping only on Sunday afternoons. But he liked the co-op’s river views and bought it for $580,000-just $19,000 less than the seller was asking. Broker: Corcoran (Anne Snee).

Murray Hill

146 East 38th Street

Four-story town house.

Asking: $2.695 million. Selling: $2.695 million.

Time on the market: 10 weeks.

THREE MEN AND $2.695 MILLION. Back in March 1998, three guys bought this 1880’s town house between Lexington and Third avenues; they planned to renovate and then cash in. The place was pretty much in tatters, and their wont was to preserve all the original details but modernize as much as possible. They installed central air-conditioning, new bathrooms and a kitchen with all the amenities, while spiffing up the parquet floors, moldings and mantelpieces. By November, the fellas wanted to test the real estate market by asking $2.85 million for their treasure. However, no takers came around until January, when they reduced their price to $2.695 million. A young couple fleeing Greenwich Village signed a contract in February, after the price of a Chelsea town house they had been enamored of couldn’t be budged below $2.95 million. The couple was especially interested in a neighborhood tradition of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, at Lexington Avenue and 38th Street between Lexington and Third avenues: When the Mission plays host to visiting diplomats, they and visitors to the block must be police-escorted to their destinations. The couple thought that would be an ideal time to show off their investment. Broker: Douglas Elliman (Millard Dixon); Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy (Patrick Lilly).


20-26 N. Moore Street

One-bed, one-bath, 2,500-square-foot co-op loft.

Asking: $875,000. Selling: $870,000.

Charges: $1,800; 83 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three weeks.

ONLY NEW YORKER TO SPEND LESS THAN Her APARTMENT BUDGET. An artist in her 40’s told broker Neiza Davis that she was prepared to fork over as much as $1.5 million for a new apartment. She was able to buy this spacious, prewar TriBeCa loft near West Broadway for much less. Of course, the apartment needed repairs, so the artist is gut-renovating to her taste: new kitchen, arched doorways and more closets. You see, she’s moving from an old-line, three-bedroom co-op at 51 East 90th Street in Carnegie Hill-which she sold for $615,000. The apartments there are as populated

with closets as they are with kids. Broker: Halstead

Property Company (Neiza Davis); Douglas Elliman (Ruth Hardinger). Gwyneth’s $1.6 Million Pre-Oscar Town House