Sex and the Co-op Board

On a July 2000 episode of Sex and the City entitled “Are We Sluts?”, Kim Cattrall’s character, Samantha Jones, moves

On a July 2000 episode of Sex and the City entitled “Are We Sluts?”, Kim Cattrall’s character, Samantha Jones, moves to the meatpacking district after her stodgy neighbors on the Upper East Side begin a whispering campaign about Samantha’s late-night trysts at the building.

In real life, the Upper East Side suits Ms. Cattrall just fine, but she still has to pass muster with her future neighbors at 480 Park Avenue, a white-glove co-op building where she recently signed a contract on an apartment listing for $1.675 million.

The unit she’s aiming for is on the 14th floor of the Emery Roth–designed building, located between 58th and 59th streets. It has two bedrooms, two marble baths and a spacious living room with a wood-burning fireplace. The 46-year-old actress may be crossing her fingers for a liberal-minded co-op board to escape the fate her of TV alter ego: Ms. Cattrall co-authored a book last year entitled Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm with her husband, high-end audio executive Mark Levinson. (The two are now separated, so Ms. Cattrall will likely be making her appearance before the co-op board by herself.)

Should she pass, her neighbors at the building will include philanthropist Iris Cantor (widow of Cantor Fitzgerald founder Bernie Cantor), veteran literary agent Lynn Nesbit; crooner Neil Sedaka and former U.S. ambassador to Italy Maxwell Raab.

Representatives for Ms. Cattrall did not return calls by press time. Her broker, Cindy Wachter of the Corcoran Group, declined to comment, as did Stribling broker Phyllis Mack, who has the exclusive on the apartment.


A group of investors, including hedge-fund manager Stephen Feinberg, has paid $19.75 million for the East 67th Street townhouse that served for 40 years as Egypt’s mission to the United Nations.

It’s the highest price paid for a townhouse in New York since 2000, when Leslie Wexner sold his East 78th Street mansion for $31.6 million. It’s also good news for New York’s luxury real-estate market, which has been hard hit by the city’s worsening economic conditions.

The former Egyptian mission, located at 36 East 67th Street between Park and Madison avenues, is a mammoth 17,500-square-foot mansion built in 1906 by noted architect Henry Bacon, the man who created the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Mr. Feinberg and his group closed on the property just last week.

“Steve and a group of investors bought it because they think it’s a terrific investment opportunity to renovate and sell it,” said Alan Waldenberg, Mr. Feinberg’s lawyer. “They think it’s great buy.”

So did the seller of the building, who had the same idea in March of 2000. Back then, German investor Michael Gleissner and L.A.-based real-estate developer George San Pietro (the estranged husband of Vanna White) bought the massive building for $9.75 million, with an eye toward renovating and selling it. Mr. Gleissner later bought Mr. San Pietro out of his share and put the property on the market in July 2002 for $24.9 million. Mr. Gleissner now works at a high-tech company in the Philippines and was unavailable for comment.

As for the new buyers, Mr. Waldenberg wouldn’t tell The Observer who his partners were, or what they were doing with it beyond “investing.”

The 1981 Princeton graduate runs the hedge fund Cerberus Partners, which specializes in distressed ventures. The company keeps a low profile, but it’s known as a major player in the high-stakes world of hedge funds. In 1999, Fortune magazine named Mr. Feinberg one of the 40 richest Americans under 40.

Thanks to Mr. Gleissner’s renovation, the East 67th Street manse now boasts juicy features like a small movie theater, basement sauna, a landscaped roof garden and a motorized awning. The five-story limestone and brick townhouse also has classic features like 14-foot ceilings, tiled mosaic floors, a grand-scale ballroom and a huge commercial kitchen.

On Tuesday, April 22, Mr. Gleissner’s assistant was directing furniture movers in and out of the building. She said they expect to be completely out of the house in two weeks, but didn’t know when the new buyers would be moving in.


The Rudolph Steiner School is accepting sealed bids on its two Upper East Side buildings, in an attempt to raise money for a new construction that would consolidate the school, likely on the Upper East or Upper West Side.

“They want room to expand and join the upper and lower schools as one,” said Arlene Wysong, senior managing director of Newmark & Company Real Estate, which is handling the sales and search for a new building. “We haven’t finished negotiations on the new site yet, but it will probably be a new construction.”

The Steiner School, whose buildings are located at 15 East 79th and 15 East 78th streets, will not be announcing formal asking prices for the townhouses. Real-estate sources close to the deal, however, said that the brokerage community will be informally instructed to start with the working figures of $19 million for the 79th Street building, and $9.5 million for the 78th Street address.

The buildings are slated to officially hit the market this Sunday, with an ad running in the Sunday New York Times real-estate section. They can be purchased separately or as a pair.

“Both buildings would make wonderful single-family residences,” said Ms. Wysong, “and it’s also possible that another institution would be interested in them.”

The Steiner School, which was incorporated in 1928, has occupied the East 79th Street townhouse since 1944, and the one on East 78th Street since 1955. The 79th Street building, which is directly next door to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s townhouse, is a mammoth, 38-foot-wide, 17,500-square-foot, five-story Italian Renaissance Revival limestone mansion. The smaller 78th Street building is a 25-foot-wide, 12,125-square-foot limestone townhouse.

Steiner is the latest in a continuing trend of Upper East Side schools, previously couched in luxe mansions, moving to sites specifically built for them. Lycée Français de New York, the French language school, had a tough time last year generating capital from the sale of its six landmarked Upper East Side buildings to fund its new building near the East River.

Brokers said that the sales were difficult because the Lycée needed to raise cash to make collateral on the bond to fund construction of the new school-but required at least a year to build it after getting the money. This meant that buyers were asked to put all the cash up front, but to wait a year before taking possession of the houses.

According to the Steiner School’s Ms. Wysong, this process has been underway in committee for three years, and most students’ parents are being notified this week. The school is planning a fund-raising drive to raise the rest of the money for its new purchase.


1199 Park Avenue

Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $1.195 million. Selling: $1.195 million.

Maintenance: $1,550; 45 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one week.

WISDOM, BEAUTY AND INCREASE A couple working in the financial-services industry moved into this terraced 18th-floor unit before they’d had any children. But a few years and two babies later, they unhappily concluded that the space just wouldn’t stretch, so they put it up for sale. The high-floor unit looks directly over the park, and its terrace has enough room to hold a small dinner party. Within days of hitting the market, a middle-aged-and childless-couple who lived on one of the building’s low floors took notice of the apartment. And despite the fact that they had just finished renovating their own place, they couldn’t pass up the sun-flooded apartment above them. “Anybody in their right mind would have grabbed it,” said Suzanne Sealy of William B. May Real Estate, the apartment’s exclusive broker.


200 East 57th Street

Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $649,000. Selling: $649,000.

Maintenance: $1,803; 52 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: five months.

MERCY STRAINED Hours before he was due to move out of this apartment, Web developer Laurent Chemla had his couches held hostage by furniture movers. The sofas were among the few remaining items in the apartment, and Mr. Chemlas had to get them out the door quickly; he had a Miami-bound plane to catch in a few hours, and his buyers were moving in not long after that. But because the couches were too large to fit in the elevator, the only option was to take them down the stairs and through an underground passage. Unfortunately, the movers breached an emergency exit door in the process, and five fire trucks were there to greet them at the street level. At this point, according to Mr. Chemlas, the movers smelled an opportunity. “They asked me for an extra 80 bucks for each couch,” he said. “Otherwise, they said that they’d keep the couches and tell the firemen that it was my fault [about the emergency door].” Desperate to make his flight, Mr. Chemlas capitulated. “I had no choice,” he said. “It was hell; it was like hostage negotiation.” Short a few hundred dollars, the French-born Mr. Chemlas made his flight, and he and his new wife are settling in Miami Beach. A husband and wife, who both work at Sotheby’s, moved into the empty 1,500-square-foot unit.


2 Horatio Street

Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $1.4 million. Selling: $1.155 million

Maintenance: $1,500; 48 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one month

HORATIO, WHAT A WOUNDED NAME! For the last six months, before they found this new apartment, a doctor and his wife had been on an extremely targeted search. In addition to some everyday requirements-over 1,000 square feet of interior space, as well as high ceilings, pre-war construction and a working fireplace-they absolutely had to be on West 12th Street. Why? Not because they had anything against West 11th or West 13th Streets; it had more to do with serendipity. “Twenty years ago, they met for the first time at a friend’s dinner party on West 12th Street,” said their broker, Marianne Perkin, a senior vice president at Key Ventures Realty. “They were looking for something similar, on the same street, 20 years later.” The nostalgic couple had been on the hunt for six months with a host of other brokers when they first contacted Ms. Perkin. After listening to their requirements, the first apartment she showed them was this Horatio Street co-op-which still qualified geographically because the building and the apartment are on the corner of West 12th Street. They made an offer on the spot, at the full asking price. “It was the easiest sale I’ve ever done,” said Ms. Perkin.


When socialite-hostess- cum -venture-capitalist Marjorie Gubelmann returns to New York after her wedding in Palm Beach this Saturday, she and her husband will have to feather a new nest. In late January, the 34-year-old Ms. Gubelmann sold her East 62nd Street condo for $2.6 million to a Denver-based couple who run training courses for investment-management and marketing professionals.

Ms. Gubelmann declined to comment on the details of her new purchase, a three-bedroom co-op in the East 70’s between Madison and Park, on which she and her fiancé recently closed.

City records show that her old bachelorette pad, also located between Madison and Park avenues, takes up 2,048 square feet on the building’s seventh floor and has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a formal dining room, an eat-in kitchen, and a living room with bay windows.

Frederick Peters, president of Ashforth Warburg Associates, had the exclusive on the apartment.

Ms. Gubelmann, a third-generation Palm Beach native, is a perennial fixture in the Florida and New York society columns. Her grandmother, Barton Gubelmann, was a well-known socialite in her day, and Quest and Hamptons Magazine often refer to Marjorie as “B.I.T.,” or “Barton-in-Training.” Her great-grandfather was an industrialist, and by day Ms. Gubelmann helps to invest the family fortune. Her betrothed, Reza Raein, 39, is in the oil and gas business.

A July 1999 New York Times article on Ms. Gubelmann’s abilities as a hostess offers some insight into how she might stage-manage future gatherings at her new apartment.

“For spice,” she told The Times , “you mix the great cellist with the gay decorator. You mix up old boyfriends with former girlfriends. And you put one fabulous person on one side, and one person that no one wants to sit next to on the other, so the guest is not completely punished.”

Sex and the Co-op Board