Miller Sister Catches Up: Von Furstenbergs Buy $12 Million Townhouse

ALEXANDRA JOINS HER SISTERS MARIE-CHANTAL AND PIA IN EAST 70’S Alexandra von Furstenberg appears set to join her sisters, Pia Getty and Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, as the owner of an Upper East Side townhouse. In August, Ms. von Furstenberg and her husband, Alexander von Furstenberg, sealed a $12 million deal on the 8,500-square-foot former headquarters of the New York Board of Rabbis at 10 East 73rd Street, right off Fifth Avenue.

In May of last year, Marie-Chantal bought a five-story townhouse just five blocks north, at 154 East 78th Street, for about $7.5 million, and Pia owns a house two blocks east of that, between Fifth and Madison avenues.Paul Wilmot, who represents Ms. von Furstenberg, a creative director at Diane von Furstenberg, and her husband, did not return calls for comment on the sale.

It wasn’t clear whether the purchase meant that the von Furstenbergs would put their apartment in the Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street on Madison Avenue, on the market. But the two, who have a young daughter, have been looking for a townhouse for some time. About two years ago, independent broker Larry Kaiser started showing them Upper East Side houses, though this deal was struck by broker Richard Steinberg of Ashforth Warburg, who represented both the von Furstenburgs and the seller of the house.

The seller, Michael Cannon, a wealthy English businessman in his 50’s, bought the place for $4.8 million last year and then had it completely redone. John Springer, the architect who performed the necessary alchemy on the dusty offices, told The Observer in an earlier interview that he gutted the house, preserving only the French neoclassical façade while outfitting it with seven bedrooms, seven fireplaces (including one in the master bathroom), a new deck in the back to match an existing deck in the front, and a garden in the rear.

After flickering onto the market earlier this year for $11 million, it was taken off again mysteriously, despite an $11.5 million offer from “a close friend of Puffy’s,” said one source, referring to hip-hop mogul Sean Combs. It went back on the market May 9. In the interim, according to papers filed with the Department of Buildings by Mr. Springer, an estimated $300,000 more in renovations was put into the place, to clean up the façade and add more walls.

Now that the von Furstenbergs have found a home in the city, the next step may be to buy a place in the Hamptons. They’ve been fixtures there: This summer, the couple rented a three-bedroom house on the ocean on Flying Point Road in Water Mill for about $100,000. A July 6 clambake at the home attracted the likes of actress Tara Reid and then-hot publicist Lizzie Grubman. Ms. Grubman drove off in her Mercedes S.U.V., headed eventually for the Conscience Point nightclub in Southampton. The rest is history.


POLLOCK, KRASNER BARN SOLD AT AUCTION FOR A SONG Looking for a bargain on an old Hamptons property with a hot artistic pedigree? Do what Richard Hammer, an East Hampton town attorney, did: Watch the state property-auctions schedule for Riverhead, N.Y., closely and then make your move.

On Aug. 17, Mr. Hammer bought at auction a small lot–100 square feet–with a 19th-century barn on it. That barn had been converted into a house by Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock after they bought it for $750 in 1954. The barn had served as Krasner’s studio until Pollock died in 1956, after which she’d moved into his less humble studio quarters on adjoining property to pursue her painting career, in between jaunts to the city to publicize the work of her late husband. Mr. Hammer paid $455,000 for the parcel.

Not everyone is happy about the sale on Fireplace Road in the Springs section of East Hampton, a quiet, largely undeveloped niche that has been spared the glare and glamour of much of the rest of the town. When Krasner died in 1984, she bequeathed her and her husband’s property–except the 100-square-foot parcel and small barn–to the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Situated on Accobonac Harbor (which Jacques Cousteau called “one of the most beautiful harbors in the world”), the property became the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, a museum dedicated to the artists’ legacy. Krasner had left the small parcel, which has a separate deed from the adjoining property, to her nephew, Ronald Stein, who in turn promised to will it to the Pollock-Krasner Museum, according to the museum’s director, Helen Harrison. But when he died last year at the age of 69, Stein hadn’t changed his will, and so the property went to auction.

The Springs district is known among celebrities, especially stage actors, as a quiet nook of the Hamptons; it’s where Bea Arthur’s husband, Robert Arthur, built a baseball diamond on his property and started the first Artists and Writers softball game. Said local broker Sandra Phillips Flax of East Hampton Village Realty, “It’s kind of an area where people who know who they are and don’t have false ideas and are not nouveau riche” end up. Terence Stamp, Mercedes Ruehl and authors Linda LaPlante and Chico Hamilton all have houses in the area and may be interested to find out what the new owner plans to do with the place. But he’s not speaking.

Mr. Hammer, who did not respond to calls for comment, told Newsday on Aug. 31 that it was “too early to speak publicly about anything” concerning his new parcel–which, at close to half a million dollars, was bought for a song, according to Ms. Phillips Flax. “Even for that area, that’s cheap,” she said.


17 East 96th Street

Two-bed, 1-1/2 bath, 1,200-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $710,000. Selling: $700,000.

Charges: $1,081; 41 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one week.

YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN, BUT IT’LL COST YOU Both the buyers and sellers of this prewar two-bedroom apartment at 96th Street and Madison Avenue were going back to their roots. The sellers, a couple with two children, had come to New York from Boston, where they both grew up, about 10 years ago. According to their broker, Joan McLaughlin of the Corcoran Group, they loved the city, but when the wife got an offer to work in Boston, she couldn’t refuse, and the family bought a place in the Boston suburbs. The buyers, a couple who were married this August, were looking for a new home to move into post-honeymoon. The bride was particularly fond of the apartment because it was in the neighborhood where she grew up. The apartment has an eat-in kitchen, formal dining room and decorative fireplace. The newlyweds are having cosmetic changes done to the place and plan to move in in September.


200 East 69th Street (Trump Palace)

Asking: $7.9 million. Selling: $7.4 million.

Four-bed, 4,000-square-foot condo.

Charges: $3,865. Taxes: $4,325.

Time on the market: six months.

A PLACE FOR A FAMILY–JUST NOT PUFF DADDY’S A mother and daughter bought the only two apartments on the 41st floor of the Trump Palace, at 69th Street and Third Avenue, about five years ago. They did a major renovation to them, including adding a pass door from one apartment to the other. (Of course, the door works both ways: It can be locked to divide the apartment again.) But just because the two apartments are now connected doesn’t mean that they look like one continuous unit. It turns out that mother and daughter have different tastes. The daughter (who has grown children herself) decided to do her side of the apartment in a modern style, with a smooth epoxy-material floor in the entrance hall that reflects the sky. The mother chose a more traditional style, with a trellised garden room and tapestries on the wall. “For people who wanted a traditional home, it didn’t work,” said Marcy Grau of Stribling and Associates, who represented the sellers. It didn’t work for Puff Daddy, who came to see the place. “He decided he wanted something bigger,” said Ms. Grau. Eventually the place was bought by a European industrialist with homes all over the world, who was represented by Steve Salmon of Salmon and Company.


15 West 12th Street

Studio, one-bath, 450-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $265,000. Selling: $265,000.

Charges: $615; 60 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one week.

MEET THE NEIGHBORS–YOU! For the past two years, the developers of this building on West 12th Street just off Fifth Avenue had been renting out this studio apartment to the tune of $2,000 a month. Not bad for a 450-square-foot space–but recently they figured they could sell the place for $265,000. So they put it on the market with Petra Scholder of Benjamin James Real Estate. As it turned out, the people who had the two-bedroom next door were very interested. They had been feeling the need for an extra bedroom, and were happy not to have to leave the building, which had just had its elevator cab and lobby renovated. They made a full-price offer within the first week the place was on the market.


277 West End Avenue

Three-bedroom, 2-1/2 bath, 2,400-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $2.195 million. Selling: $2.2 million.

Charges: $1,793; 60 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three weeks.

DO-IT-YOURSELFERS CAVE IN A couple with twins were planning to move to Larchmont when they called broker Katie Rodgers last December. An acquaintance had thought that Ms. Rodgers would be willing to give them tips on how to sell their apartment themselves. She came over the next day with a printed list of do’s and don’t’s, but immediately saw that the place would be an easy sell. “It’s what they call a prewar classic seven–three bedrooms, a maid’s room, everything,” she said. “And it was totally gut-renovated, and it was 2,400 square feet and in impeccable condition.” Two days later, the husband called Ms. Rodgers. She said he “liked my honesty, and that I didn’t try to persuade him to” hire me. So he did. After multiple bids, a young couple represented by Evelyn Ricci and Marcia Chesler of Ashforth Warburg saw the place and fell in love. They got it with an offer $5,000 above the rest of the anxious buyers’ bids. Regarding the successful outcome, Ms. Rodgers said: “It shows that honesty and concern about the sellers still gets you somewhere.” Not to mention a nice commission. Miller Sister Catches Up: Von Furstenbergs Buy $12 Million Townhouse