Steve Wynn Bets on 820 Fifth Avenue and Loses Big

CO-OP BOARD MATRON WRIGHTSMAN SAID, ‘FORGET IT!’ SAY BROKERS Casino king Steve Wynn got $4.4 billion for his Mirage Resorts in a hostile takeover by MGM Grand chairman Kirk Kerkorian on March 6, but all the money in the jackpot couldn’t buy him into 820 Fifth Avenue.

Mr. Wynn, 58, made a formal offer to socialite Nancy Richardson to purchase her fifth-floor apartment for $17.5 million. But, according to real estate sources, the very same week that lawyers for Mr. Wynn, 58, were inquiring about the makeup of the co-op’s board, which had the power to approve or reject his offer, and his broker was quietly showing his apartment at 817 Fifth Avenue to a perspective buyer, someone else made a deal to purchase the apartment out from under him.

“[Mr. Wynn] thought if Tommy Hilfiger can get in, he can do the same thing,” one broker told The Observer , referring to the notoriously tough co-op board’s approval of the clothing designer’s $10 million purchase of the fourth-floor apartment last June. Mr. Hilfiger’s green light to buy the 6,500-square-foot co-op from the estate of the late poet Louise Crane, was suspect. One broker argued that Mr. Hilfiger, the premier designer of rappers’ wardrobes, passed the board, presided over with an iron fist by socialite Jayne Wrightsman, because of his relationship with gallery owner William Acquavella, who purchased the apartment on 820 Fifth Avenue’s 11th floor in 1993 for $9.8 million.

Mr. Wynn, an infamous art collector, has had a long business and personal relationship with Mr. Acquavella. Nonetheless, “Wrightsman said ‘Forget it!'” said a broker about Mr. Wynn’s chances.

Real estate sources confirmed that Mr. Wynn’s loss was another man’s victory: An offer for the apartment, co-listed by Sotheby’s International Realty and Edward Lee Cave, was accepted on March 14.

TRY TO KEEP ROBIN WILLIAMS STILL–YOU CAN’T! Academy Award-winning funny man Robin Williams put his penthouse at 271 Central Park West on the market for $10 million on March 14 in a huff. The co-op board of the building where he has had a home for six years would not allow him to combine his penthouse with another for sale across the hall. Then, when he tried to buy it anyway, he was outbid.

Mr. Williams’ penthouse, which he purchased for approximately $3.5 million has nine rooms, including a library. But no terrace. The apartment across the hall, however, does. That 11-room duplex was being sold for $7.9 million by Agnes Nolan, a real estate executive who in the late 1970’s was embroiled in a scandal regarding building managers stealing from their clients.

According to a broker, when members of the co-op board heard about Mr. Williams’ idea to combine the penthouses, they raised a red flag. No two apartments in the 27-unit building near West 87th Street have ever been combined. “They felt he would have too many shares in the building,” said a broker. “It’s not weird at all–but it’s unfortunate.”

Mr. Williams decided to bid, anyway. But not as much as Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald, 44, the chairman of Paramount Capital Investments, a biotechnology merchant banking and venture capital firm, who offered $7.2 million. Dr. Rosenwald, a native Philadelphian, has been living on West End Avenue, where he had combined five apartments. He practiced internal medicine for two and a half years before being lured by Wall Street’s big bucks in 1985 when he came to New York as a securities analyst at Ladenburg, Thalmann; in 1988 he was named the managing director of corporate finance at D.H. Blair & Company, a Wall Street firm. Dr. Rosenwald specializes in initial public offerings and venture capital for biotechnology companies.

A broker familiar with the deal said Ms. Nolan won’t buy a new place before Dr. Rosenwald gets board approval.

Dolly Lenz, a broker at Sotheby’s International Realty, the firm that brokered Ms. Nolan’s apartment, would not comment on the deal.

Mr. Williams and Dr. Rosenwald did not return calls.


CBS HONCHO SELLS DUD CONDO WITHOUT A PROFIT Mel Karmazin, the 56-year-old chief executive of the CBS Corporation, just made a lousy deal. In January, he quietly sold his fourth-floor condo at 196 Central Park South for $1.7 million. But five years ago, he paid $1.5 million.

“He definitely lost money,” said a broker.

The broker claimed Mr. Karmazin had “completely renovated” the five-room condo at Trump Parc, the former Barbizon Hotel. “It’s a dump,” said a broker familiar with the apartment. “He put a fortune into it, but I think his decorator should be killed.” The buyer was Simon Kukes, chief executive of Tyumen Oil Company, a Russia-based firm.

Mr. Karmazin still has faith in the Trump name. Last May, he signed a contract for an $11 million, 5,500-square-foot penthouse at the Trump International Hotel and Tower at 1 Central Park West. The apartment has a large open living room, dining room and library area as well as a master bedroom suite and four additional bedrooms.

“He’s a very cheap guy. To get him to spring for $11 million was a really big deal,” the broker told The Observer .

Hopefully, he has lost faith in his old decorator.


158 East 64th Street

Five-story, two-bed, four-bath town house.

Asking: $2.5 million. Selling: $2.473 million.

Time on the market: 10 months.

THE DANE WITH A FOOT FETISH The seller of this town house, a Danish man, courted potential buyers until he found someone worthy to hand over the keys to his home of 37 years. “He wanted someone who would appreciate the house,” said broker Ruth Mayer of Prudential M.L.B. Kaye International Realty. “He wanted someone sophisticated and with manners.” The anointed one: a shoe designer, who will probably turn the first- and second-floor gallery that housed his antiques into a showroom. He is heading back to Copenhagen but not before unloading some of his possessions at Sotheby’s on April 5. The house, built around the 1880’s, features a finished basement with a kitchen and bathroom; a living room, dining room and another kitchen on the third floor; a library and sitting room on the fourth floor; and two bedrooms on the fifth floor. On the ground floor is a winter garden, enclosed by a glass roof and brick walls. There’s also a roof terrace and eight fireplaces. Ms. Mayer told The Observer she thinks the 17-by-80-foot building could accommodate four to six bedrooms. Donald French of Prudential M.L.B. Kaye and Lindsay Smith of the Corcoran Group were also brokers on the deal.


47 Bond Street

Two-bed, one-bath, 900-square-foot condo.

Asking: $625,000. Selling: $559,375.

Charges: $510. Taxes: $227.

Time on market: five months.

SEA GRASS AND MIRRORS Adam Dolle, 49, was a monk in Indiana in the early 1970’s before he moved to Manhattan in 1980 to get a master’s degree in interior design from Pratt Institute. He bought this loft in 1989–when he founded his interior design firm, Adam Dolle Inc. He practiced his trade in his home, decorating it with wall-to-wall sea grass carpet. “Sea grass is a woven matting typically from India. It’s made of grass grown by water and weaved into floor coverings,” Mr. Dolle told The Observer about the khaki-colored 13-foot-wide carpet with a rough texture. He also had the doors custom made so they could be layered with different materials and engraved with T-shaped grooves and installed a 71/2-foot-high, three-paneled, mirrored mantel over the fireplace in the living room. Mr. Dolle also ripped out the tin ceiling and raised the roof to 12 feet with a new barrel-vault, slightly arched ceiling, and installed an electrically operated skylight at the center of the fifth-floor loft between the Bowery and Lafayette Street. “He completely did everything,” said the selling broker, Adam Macagana of the Halstead Property Company. “He had a clean slate to work with.” The loft also features a 450-square-foot private roof, a wood-burning fireplace and hardwood floors. Mr. Dolle purchased a property in upstate New York and rented another Manhattan apartment. “He needed to get a fresh perspective and shift gears,” said Mr. Macagana. An Internet executive, who wanted to live close to his office, won the bidding war for this loft and the deal closed in mid-February. He has planned some renovations and will probably not move into the loft for about three weeks. “A lot of people really love the area and want to live in NoHo, and it’s not that big,” said Mr. Macagana. “It’s commanding a very high price.” The building, which was built in the 1800’s, has five apartments–one per floor–and the basement level is home to Il Buco restaurant. The new owner seems to have some decorating ideas himself and has planned some renovations. He’ll probably not move until April.


140 Kane Street

Two-story, two-bed, three-bath carriage house.

Asking: $995,000. Selling: $952,000.

Time on the market: six weeks.

THE GHOST OF WINSTON CHURCHILL’S MOM “That a carriage house near me would go for almost a $1 million makes me want to kill myself,” joked a woman who lives on the same block as this house, located between Henry Street and Cheever Place in Brooklyn. The Cobble Hill neighborhood gets cooler and costlier every day, and these buyers, an engaged couple, had their eye on this unusual turn-of-the-century house for quite some time. They had told Kris Dugan of Stribling & Associates to let them know if it ever went on the market. It’s a former banana warehouse that still has a grappling hook in front, on the uppermost eve and above the front door. A pair of second doors that were once used for freight have been transformed into remote-control-operated windows. A mezzanine-style balcony stretches across three-quarters of the two-story open house; there’s a master suite up there looking down onto the first floor. There’s a 5-foot-wide patio spanning the length of the house, exposed brick and a fireplace. Ms. Dugan thinks it was once the carriage house affiliated with another house on the corner of Henry Street, right next to where Winston Churchill’s mother, Jeanette Jerome, was born. The sellers had lived in the house for about eight years before they decided to move their business, which plans parties for major companies, to Sonoma, Calif. “It’s the perfect house for entertaining,” Ms. Dugan told The Observer , claiming that about 50 guests could comfortably party on the first floor. “It’s very non-New York,” she added. The husband-to-be, who works for a magazine for people with special needs, was concerned that his handicapped friends wouldn’t be able to visit the house. He’s already started planning his renovations, including a front door wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through. Steve Wynn Bets on 820 Fifth Avenue and Loses Big