The Central Park West apartment that was home to Harrison Ford and his soon-to-be ex-wife, screenwriter Melissa Mathison, has gone to contract to a neighbor in the building for “millions less” than its $18 million asking price, according to sources close to the building. The man who signed on the dotted line is Gary Lieberman, a hedge-fund manager and owner of the Westchester Wildfire, a team in the United States Basketball League, which is a feeder league for the N.B.A.
The Ford/Mathison apartment spans the 14th and 15th floors of 101 Central Park West, one of the West Side’s most storied buildings. Mr. Lieberman, 49, also lives on the 15th floor of the building. But it looks like he’s swapping rather than combining the spaces: His unit, 15C, just hit the market for $9 million. Mr. Lieberman would not comment for this article.
The Ford/Mathison apartment hit the market earlier this summer, but Mr. Ford hasn’t been living there since the fall of 2000, when he first separated from Ms. Mathison. And because their divorce hasn’t been finalized yet, it’s unclear exactly who owns the unit. All brokers on the deal declined to comment, as did Mr. Ford’s lawyer and Ms. Mathison’s lawyer. The latter, Susan Carter, said she didn’t know when the divorce would be official.
Mr. Lieberman’s intended purchase, a 12-room duplex spread, combines two apartments that Mr. Ford and Ms. Mathison purchased at different times.
Records weren’t available for the 14th-floor purchase, but the couple closed on the 15th-floor apartment in late 1997 for $2.725 million. The apartment has four bedrooms, four bathrooms and 30 feet of frontage on the park. The lower floor has a dark-paneled library with a wet bar, a formal dining room, a windowed breakfast area and a custom kitchen. The upstairs master bedroom has seven windows (five of them on the park) and a wood-burning fireplace.
Ms. Mathison, the screenwriter of such films as The Black Stallion and Kundun , has been married to Mr. Ford since 1983. They have two children, Malcom, 16, and Georgia, 12. The family used to split their time between New York and an 800-acre ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo. In the fall of 2000, however, rumors began to swirl that their 17-year marriage was on the rocks, and in November of that year the couple announced that they had been living apart for a month. Ms. Mathison filed for a legal separation nine months later.
In January 2002, Mr. Ford closed on a 5,000-square-foot penthouse near Sixth Avenue in Chelsea. He made the purchase just a few weeks before the news broke of his relationship with Ally McBeal actress Calista Flockhart.
SHAKEN AND STIRRED: SEAN CONNERY’S NEIGHBORS IN UPROAR OVER RENOVATIONS
Call it the League of Not-So-Extraordinary Gentleman. Sean Connery and his family are embroiled in the final stages of a legal squabble with the neighbors in their small condominium over renovations that the Connerys are making to their unit and the building. Their neighbors, a husband and wife who live below the Connerys in a two-unit townhouse on East 71st Street, appear to have lost their battle against the renovations, which they allege are unnecessary and overly expensive. The downstairs couple, ophthalmologist Burton Sultan and his wife, Marilyn, own the building’s first three floors; Mr. Connery and his wife, Micheline, occupy the upper two.
“Everyone involved said you can’t win against Sean Connery,” said Mr. Sultan. “He’ll do as he pleases.”
Lawyers for the Connery family did not return repeated calls for comment.
The legal fight actually isn’t between those two parties per se, because the Connerys don’t own their unit: It belongs to Mr. Connery’s son, Stephane Connery, a vice president at Sotheby’s auction house, and his wife, Tania. They bought the unit in 1998-15 months after the Sultans bought theirs-and moved out in 2002 to allow the elder Connery and his wife to move in.
Shortly before the move, however, Stephane and Tania Connery began making plans to renovate their unit-which was fine by the Sultans, who had until then enjoyed relatively amicable relations with the Connerys. According to court documents, however, the problems started in late 2001, when the Connerys asked the Sultans to help pay for what the Connerys said were urgently needed repairs to the building’s roof and front and rear facades, among other common areas. The Sultans disagreed with the need for the repairs and took issue with the Connerys’ estimate of $285,000 for the job.
It’s unclear whether it was the younger or elder set of Connerys who were really calling the shots vis-à-vis the renovations; regardless, it soon became obvious that neither faction of the family could arrive at a meeting of the minds with the Sultans over the repairs. In early 2002, Stephane and Tania Connery, as owners, filed suit. They abruptly dropped the suit, however, when they realized that the bylaws of the condominium stipulated that all such disputes had to be settled in arbitration.
By this time, however, the Sultans had another bone to pick: The contractors who had been renovating the Connerys’ unit had, they claimed, damaged their own unit and made it uninhabitable.
The arbitrator, who held evidentiary hearings during May of 2002, in the end agreed with the Connerys that the repairs were necessary for the health of the building, and ordered-as per the condominium’s by-laws-that the Sultans pay 65 percent of the repairs, or $127,666, and that the Connerys pay the balance. The arbitrator also ordered the Connerys to pay the Sultans $25,000 to cover the damages to their unit.
That decision, which was binding, came down in August of 2002, but the Sultans have appealed it, arguing that the Connerys are not adhering to the specifics of the agreement. Just last week, for example, the Sultans sent a letter to the Connerys’ attorney-which the Sultans made available to The Observer -in which they charge that the Connerys are using a contractor for the job that the arbitrator had specified should take only a “supervisory” role. The Sultans feel particularly strongly about this because the contractor was the same one that damaged their unit during the earlier renovations. The Sultans are currently residing in Long Island; they say their unit on 71st Street is still uninhabitable.
RECENT TRANSACTIONS IN THE REAL ESTATE MARKET
UPPER WEST SIDE
140-142 West End Avenue
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $599,000. Selling: $590,000.
Maintenance: $1,029; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: 14 weeks.
SELL! SELL! SELL! Ever wonder how all those traders at the stock exchange manage to shout all day and not get hoarse? It turns out that some of them hire voice coaches to teach them to do it properly. The last owner of this apartment, Nancy Sorin Collyer, used to have a few such clients in her 25 years as a voice teacher and cabaret singer. Ms. Collyer, who has appeared on the same bill as Tommy Tune and Bernadette Peters, was until 1978 married to David Sorin Collyer, who was a voice teacher to a virtual Who’s Who of superstar entertainers like Paul Simon, Liza Minnelli and Bette Midler. After their divorce, she began splitting her time between New Jersey and this Upper West Side apartment. Recently, however, she took a final look at her empty-nest Manhattan residence and decided to indulge a longtime hankering to begin performing full-time in California. “New York is glorious in many ways,” she said, “but I’ve known I wanted to make a complete life change and start life all over.” She’s currently living in a three-bedroom condo near the famed La Quinta resort in Southern California. Brooke Davida of the Corcoran Group had the exclusive on the Manhattan property, and Kristina Odjanic represented the buyers.
UPPER EAST SIDE
401 East 65th Street
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $625,000. Selling: $620,000.
Maintenance: $1525; 45 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two and a half weeks.
SNOWBIRDS IN CITYSCAPE Jack Myers used to work as an analyst for the Internal Revenue Service; now he sculpts. Nohmie Myers works as a psychotherapist and seriously likes to paint. This married couple in their 80’s recently sold their house in Mt. Kisco and came to Manhattan in search of cultural renewal-and an apartment with enough wall space to display their art works. The 1,200-square-foot, 16th-floor unit they chose has an entry foyer that perfectly fit that bill. “It became a gallery apartment for them,” said the Myers’ sales agent, Noel Tirsch of the William B. May company. Mr. Tirsch, who has known the pair since he was a teenager, called the couple “snowbirds” for their tendency to dash down to their second home in Florida when the New York weather turns cold. That’s still in the cards, but their new perch on 65th Street puts them in a direct horizontal line with another of their favorite escapes: Lincoln Center.
251 West 19th Street
Two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom condo.
Asking: $875,000. Selling: $830,000.
Charges: $570; Taxes: $600.
Time on the market: five days.
FOREIGN SERVICE BOARD Ever since the economy started slumping a few years ago, cooperatives and condominiums have grown increasingly wary of board application packages that deviate at all from the norm. This has hit foreigners especially hard, as they are frequently unable to secure loans and lack things like Social Security numbers. This latter point could have been a stumbling block for the family who ended up with this apartment. They’re from Australia; he’s an account manager at the Bank of New York, and she stays at home with their two young daughters. According to their sales agent, Victoria Rong of Citi Habitats, the husband makes a very healthy salary and has a bundle saved, but his lack of a Social Security number would undoubtedly have gotten him tripped up in red tape at many buildings in the city. “At some condos, I’ve been waiting for months [for an application to be approved],” Ms. Rong said. “It feels like [applying for] a co-op.” She and her clients managed to skirt that problem by buying a sponsor unit in a building that is only halfway converted from a rental. The sponsors were eager enough to secure a buyer that they waived much of the application process. The couple ended up paying about $518 per square foot for a 1,600-square-foot triplex unit on the building’s ground, second and basement floors. “As a buyer, you’re taking a little risk [buying in an unfinished building],” said Ms. Rong. “But we got great value here.”
SONNENFELD DROPS $1.125 M. ON MASSIVE CITY HALL LOFT
Barry Sonnenfeld has been a man on the move. In this year alone, the Men in Black director not only traded in his house in Amagansett for a smaller place in North Haven, but he also bought a $1.125 million condo in lower Manhattan.
In mid-April, Mr. Sonnenfeld and his wife, Susan Ringo, closed on a 2,300-square-foot full-floor loft at 25 Ann Street, the Edgar House. The building is so named because Edgar Allan Poe is said to have worked there when it was the headquarters of the New York Mirror . The loft building straddles Nassau Street just three blocks south of the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Mr. Sonnenfeld’s new apartment has two bathrooms, three exposures and an impressive phalanx of 21 oversized windows. He bought the mint-condition unit after it underwent a heavy renovation.
Earlier this summer, Mr. Sonnenfeld-who also directed Get Shorty and The Addams Family -reportedly sold his house on Gardiners Bay in Amagansett to financier Roy Furman. The sale might not be final, however: The Suffolk County Clerk’s office-which is the first authority to be notified of such sales-has no record of a new owner at the property. And just last weekend, on Sept. 6, Mr. Sonnenfeld hosted the wedding of his stepdaughter at the Amagansett property. Public records do confirm, however, that in July Mr. Sonnenfeld paid $1,995,000 for a house in North Haven. He didn’t return calls for comment on any of the purchases.
In late July, news broke that Mr. Sonnenfeld had backed out of directing the Jim Carrey–Cameron Diaz movie Fun with Dick and Jane . In January, Mr. Sonnenfeld backed out of another Jim Carrey film, Lemony Snicket , giving no public comments on the matter.