NOW IF THEY COULD JUST GET THEIR HANDS ON 778 PARK PAD Linda and James Robinson have not yet taken possession of Greenwich, Conn. investment banker Clifton Robbins’ ninth-floor apartment at 778 Park Avenue. But that has not stopped them from selling their home, just down the street at 550 Park Avenue.
On July 10, the Robinsons–she’s vice chairman of Young and Rubicam, and he’s a former chief executive of American Express–signed a contract to sell their seven-room apartment. Sources say that the 17th-floor apartment, which went on the market for $6.45 million, has sold for “significantly more than the asking price.” Neither the Robinsons nor their broker, Lisa Silverman of Ashforth Warburg Associates, returned phone calls.
The Robinsons first put their three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom apartment on the market on June 1, just a few weeks after their private offer to buy Mr. Robbins’ 6,500-square-foot apartment for $17.7 million was accepted. Brokers say a bidding war among three interested parties broke out over the Robinsons’ place, partly due to the relatively cheap price (a larger apartment across the hall went on the market at roughly the same time for almost three times the Robinsons’ asking price) and because the apartment was in such great shape.
“It was a totally renovated mixture of modern and traditional,” said one broker who had shown the apartment. “The renovations were done a few years ago, not yesterday, but the apartment was still magnificent.” The apartment features 10 1/2 foot ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace, and views of Central Park.
The Robinsons need not worry that they will be on the street–at least not yet. According to a source at 550 Park, the co-op board is on vacation until September, and will not be able to consider the new buyer until then.
BROOKE DE OCAMPO HAWKS HER PEACOCK-BLUE ROOM, BIDS FAREWELL TO FIFTH AVENUE It’s almost as if Brooke de Ocampo knew she would be leaving New York when she cut a deal to linger inside the homes of her rich friends and write a coffee-table book about it. When the Greenwich, Conn.-bred blond leaves the Upper East Side in October and moves to London, she’ll have a glossy scrapbook (titled Bright Young Things ) to bring with her.
But, let’s face it, it will be little consolation. “I’ve never missed a Nutcracker, ” said Ms. de Ocampo, who grew up visiting her grandmother on 80th Street. “I hate leaving New York.”
About a month ago, Ms. De Ocampo and her husband Emilio, an investment banker with Salomon Smith Barney Inc., put their apartment at 55 East 86th Street on the market for $2.3 million after he took a job in London. In an e-mail conversation following her return from the fashion shows in Paris, Ms. de Ocampo, 33, told The Observer how she felt about leaving her lifelong stomping ground , where she is an exalted member of the junior society establishment, and selling the apartment she so painstakingly decorated.
“I feel like such a New Yorker as so many important things happened in my life in New York City,” she said. “Independence; my first real job in the fashion business [as a] Vogue associate editor; I was married here; I published my first book here; made great friends.”
Things she’ll miss most: Central Park, ordering from Eli’s and Zitomer’s, eating at Da Silvano and Sant Ambroeus, her “kitchen.”
“I will be back as much as I can–London weather is enough to drive anyone mad.”
Is she worried that the distinct style of her apartment’s decor may deter potential buyers?
“A shocking peacock color blue dining room with striped painted floors isn’t everybody’s thing!” said Ms. de Ocampo about a room she copied from a famous Parish Hadley room. “A simple can of paint or two should take care of that, though.”
The 2,400-square-foot condo features three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a maid’s room, a living room, a dining room, a wood-burning fireplace and an eat-in kitchen. (Common charges are $1,284; real estate taxes are $905.)
Her broker, Belinda Brackenridge of Douglas Elliman, thinks the dramatic decor will attract buyers. It’s “very sleek and homey at the same time … it’s very well done.” Ms. Brackenridge has shown the prewar apartment a few times, but hasn’t found a buyer yet.
The de Ocampos bought the apartment in February 1998 for $1.3 million. “It’s on the second floor which is great–instead of being on the 10th floor and looking across street to other apartments, we look into the trees from every room,” said Ms. de Ocampo. “We thought it would be a great space for our first child who had not been born yet, but never imagined having three children so quickly.” (They have three daughters: a two-and-a-half year old and one-year-old identical twins). They’ll rent an apartment in London, but they haven’t decided where, exactly.
“We obviously grew out of it just as the last coat of paint was drying on the walls … [we] will bring every last diaper with us!”
Ms. de Ocampo hasn’t planned a farewell party–yet. It might be combined with her book party. Bright Young Things comes out in October and the party could be hosted by any one of its subjects (all her friends): Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer and her sister Jane Lauder, Alexandra von Furstenberg, Marina Rust, Plum Sykes, Miranda Brooks, Lulu de Kwiatkowski, Tara Rockefeller, Peggy Guinness and a couple of bachelor pads–Damien Loeb’s and Moby’s–to round it out.
Meanwhile, she seems to be keeping her chin up. “Moving is healthy… being flexible keeps one young at heart and mind … ‘change is good’ is what I keep saying over and over.”
THE HOUSE THAT DARYL K BOUGHT Designer Daryl Kerrigan’s new brownstone didn’t blow up last week. But she may have wished that the decrepit four-story building at 324 State Street that she recently purchased had exploded, like two buildings two blocks away did on July 11.
Then again, if you can look past the peeling purple paint on the stoop and overall “crack house” exterior (as one neighbor put it), the house features seven fireplaces with marble mantles and a “double parlor,” filled with turn-of-the-century detail–the kind of outrageously expensive decoration lying in the rubble of yet another building that collapsed last week, that of Irreplaceable Artifacts on East Houston Street.
Ms. Kerrigan–who was recently hired as Tommy Hilfiger’s womenswear designer and whose own labels, Daryl K and K-189, grossed about $11 million last year–has just begun a six-month renovation. One source familiar with the place estimated the job–new roof, floors, boiler and furnace, just for starters–at about $300,000.
In June, Ms. Kerrigan hired Scott Schnall, an engineer who owns a firm in the neighborhood. A permit to “renovate the existing structure” was applied for on June 5 and issued on July 12. Mr. Schnall described the job, which Ms. Kerrigan’s husband Paul Leonard is overseeing–as a “complete renovation” starting with new plumbing. “They knew exactly what they wanted,” said Mr. Schnall.
The previous owners had been trying to sell the house for over a year before the bank stepped in. “The house and ownership were very distressed,” said their former broker Michael Coleman of the Corcoran Group Brooklyn, who put the house on the market for them early last year for $675,000. “The owners had multiple mortgages on it, and had a very high price in mind … They’d subdivided it into numerous rooms and numerous tenants–with numerous structural violations.”
Mr. Coleman had interested buyers, but not at that price. “We couldn’t convince the owners to sell at a market price,” he said. “They were very desperate to settle their own debt problems.”
Ms. Kerrigan’s entrance has not gone unnoticed on a block which is emblematic of an area in mid-gentrification: it’s right next door to a dial-a-car garage and on a block flanked by a prison and a hip coffee shop.
“In my short time [working as an engineer], about 10 years, this went from a fairly bad neighborhood to a really popular, expensive neighborhood,” said Mr. Schnall.
Ms. Kerrigan, 36, and Mr. Leonard–an artist and architect as well as her business partner–moved from Ireland to New York in 1983 and now live in an apartment at 189 Bowery with their baby. She opened her first store on East Sixth Street in 1991 and a second on Bond Street several years later, and became famous locally for her $100 hip-hugging pants. Shortly afterward, her company was acquired by the Pegasus Apparel Group. She was appointed womenswear deigner at Tommy Hilfiger in May. In the meantime, she’s recently opened another store in Los Angeles.
What’s next? Brooklyn?
UPPER EAST SIDE
605 Park Avenue
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,600-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $1.2 million. Selling: $1.2 million.
Charges: Main $1,906; 48 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: one week.
AN ACTOR IN NEED OF A COUCH Actor William McNamara, whose career as a teen heartthrob began when he made it with his babysitter (Jodie Foster) in the 1988 film Stealing Home and now stars in the Showtime series Beggars and Choosers , had a place to crash in the city until about a month ago. His mom, decorator Mary Meehan, had designed the dining room of her new apartment with an updated Murphy bed for him. When it was pulled down, it revealed two bedside lamps and a painting over the headboard. Elsewhere in the room, there were two hidden closets and a stowed-away dining table on wheels. “It was one of my most brilliant moves,” said Ms. Meehan . More conspicuous decorations include an entry hall with a mosaic floor and ancient-styled Roman murals. “It looked like you were walking into a Roman bath or something,” said Ms. Meehan. “I put a lot of money into things that couldn’t be taken out again.” Then, last December, she found a house in Salt Point, N.Y., near Millbrook, that was an even bigger challenge, so she put the apartment on the market and bought a smaller pied-à-terre on 72nd Street and Lexington Avenue. But at least all her work paid off. “A couple was willing to give up living in a penthouse on Central Park South because they loved the way she decorated it,” said Patricia Burnham, who owns her own brokerage firm and sold the Park Avenue apartment. Ms. Meehan moved out earlier this month. “This is what I do for a living,” she said. “I don’t invest a lot of emotions in these things.”
525 Park Avenue
Three-bed, three-bath, 2,700-square-foot condo.
Asking: $2.8 million. Selling: $2.7 million.
Charges: $1,938. Taxes: $1,274.
Time on the market: One month.
THIS IS WAR Meet your worst nightmare: a couple who tour an apartment despite the fact that it’s already spoken for, then approach the seller with a higher offer than the guy who thinks he’s already bought the place, then send a staff of messengers around town getting a contract signed before the supposed buyer knows what’s happened to him. Broker Michael Shvo of Douglas Elliman did just such a 48-hour deal in selling this three-bedroom apartment with eastern, southern and western exposures. But there’s some justice: The buyers will not be able to move in for about six months because the place needs so much work. “It’s like buying raw space,” said the broker. Also: Heather Locklear just moved out of the penthouse. Sorry!
UPPER WEST SIDE
48 West 88th Street
Five-story, 6,500-square-foot townhouse.
Asking: $2,995. Selling: $2,995.
Time on the market: Six months.
TEA IN THE PARLOR, BEHEADINGS IN THE DINING ROOM When this 20-foot-wide, five-story brownstone first came on the market at the beginning of the year, the sellers were getting offers almost $500,000 less then what they wanted. But what did they care, really. They had been living upstate for the past two years and renting out the four apartments in the house. “The market kept going up, until we got what we were looking for,” said their broker, Harvey Siegel of Fenwick-Keats Realty. The buyers plan to take over the entire 1889 brownstone, which has a garden and a roof deck. Otherwise, the broker said, the decor “reflects a grand elegance spanning several architectural periods.” There’s a Victorian parlor, Art Deco details in the master bathroom and a Versailles-inspired dining room complete with handpainted fleur-de-lis reliefs.