Cry Me a River

Producer Marty Richards won over Oscar judges last year and claimed Best Picture honors for his screen version of Chicago

Producer Marty Richards won over Oscar judges last year and claimed Best Picture honors for his screen version of Chicago , but the venerated producer can’t seem to win over prospective buyers for his 16-room home at the River House, on East 52nd Street at the East River.

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Last week, the 71-year-old showman lopped another $2 million off the unit’s $13.5 million asking price. Mr. Richards now seeks $11.5 million for his 8,000-square-foot maisonette apartment.

The move is just the latest maneuver in a spate of real-estate struggles for Mr. Richards, who has been fervently trying to unload his gilded River House residence since March 2000. That’s when he first listed the unit-featuring a marble entrance hall, cut-glass chandeliers, 14-foot ceilings and two maids’ rooms-for $17.5 million. In February 2001, he actually raised the price to $18.2 million, then raised it again to $18.5 million in March, hoping to lure a big-ticket buyer and cash out quick. Since then, however, he has lowered the price nine times.

Mr. Richards is now on his third broker and has discounted his unit more than 40 percent off the peak asking price.

The price drop at his River House spread has also been accompanied by steep discounts at Mr. Richards’ Southampton beachfront home on the storied Gin Lane. In March, the Bronx-born producer put his 7.5-acre estate, dubbed “By the Sea,” on the market for a reported $50 million. He has since slashed the price to $30 million. The property, built in 1920 by J.P. Morgan, has a saltwater pool that has been the site of Mr. Richards’ infamous Hamptons soirées. He shares a Gin Lane address with former New York Times publisher Arthur (Punch) Sulzberger, financier Felix Rohatyn, former Sotheby’s boss Alfred Taubman and automobile heiress Anne Ford.

Mr. Richards’ frustrations at the River House have a considerable history.

In January 2001, he came close to selling his spread in a deal that involved an apartment swap orchestrated with Joseph W. Luter III, the chief executive of Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. In June 2000, the Broadway showman signed a contract with Mr. Luter to sell his River House duplex for $17.5 million. The contract was penned to allow Mr. Richards to retain his duplex while work was completed at his new south-, west- and east-facing apartments at the gleaming 90-story Trump World Tower at 845 U.N. Plaza, near East 47th Street. In June 2000, he purchased the units for a combined $6 million. Mr. Richards planned to combine the apartments into a 4,500-square-foot double-size condo, but in early 2001, as the market for the upper echelon of Manhattan real-estate fizzled, Mr. Luter abandoned the deal, leaving a reported $1.7 million deposit on the table, and settled on an $11.5 million five-bedroom apartment at 888 Park Avenue. Mr. Richards never moved into his Trump condos, and instead put his River House duplex back on the market for $18.5 million.

Two years and no buyer later, Mr. Richards gave up on his Trump holdings and sold the two 72nd-floor units for $1.25 million and $2.4 million (he originally paid $1.75 million and $3.6 million, respectively, in June 2000).

Meanwhile, Marc Shapiro, the embattled former vice chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase and Co., has put his River House apartment on the market for $7.25 million. Mr. Shapiro, who was forced to answer thorny questions about his firm’s $2.6 billion financial relationship with Enron, relocated to Houston earlier this year.

In September, Mr. Shapiro relinquished his top position with the company and now has an advisory role as non-executive chairman of Texas operations. J.P. Morgan officials have said in published reports that the relocation was planned long before the Enron implosion.

Nevertheless, the listing of his 4,000-square-foot, three-bedroom spread is the end note to a difficult year for Mr. Shapiro. Until Sept. 30, he was J.P. Morgan’s second-highest-ranking executive and the man that many thought would someday run the Wall Street powerhouse. But after the Enron imbroglio erupted in 2002, forcing J.P. Morgan to take a $2 billion charge from the credit extended to the corrupt energy giant, Mr. Shapiro found himself at the center of the company’s financial debacle.

Through a spokesperson, Mr. Shapiro declined to comment on his River House listing.

Mr. Shapiro’s three-bedroom duplex put him at the center of the city’s power core: The storied building at 435 East 52nd Street has been home to Henry Kissinger, pharmaceutical heiress Libbet Johnson, Broadway producer Marty Richards, former Time Warner boss Gerald Levin and the late Italian princess Marcella Borghese. Mr. Shapiro’s prewar unit has views of the East River and the city skyline and features a two-story foyer, a library, a wood-burning fireplace and a 1,200-square-foot terrace with entertaining space for 50. Cindy Bernat, a vice president with the Corcoran Group who has the exclusive, declined to comment.

A Texas native with ties to top former officials of the disgraced company, including fellow Houston resident and former Enron chief Kenneth Lay, Mr. Shapiro publicly apologized for his firm’s actions in a letter to Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, stating that J.P. Morgan had “made mistakes” and expressing “genuine regret” for its Enron dealings after the company settled with government regulators for $135 million in July.


Bob Boyett, one of the most successful sitcom producers in television history, is putting his mammoth co-op apartment at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel on the market for $19.5 million.

Mr. Boyett and his production team created or helped to create some of the most wildly popular family- and buddy-oriented sitcoms of the last 25 years. The highlights include Full House , Family Matters , Perfect Strangers , Happy Days , Laverne and Shirley , Mork and Mindy , Bosom Buddies and The Hogan Family .

According to the apartment’s listing broker, Roger Erickson, senior managing director at the William B. May Company, Mr. Boyett is “moving upstate,” but he’ll be keeping a pied-à-terre at the building on a lower floor.

His 17-room apartment comprises four combined units that take up most of the 18th floor of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel, located at 781 Fifth Avenue at 59th Street. According to Mr. Erickson, one of the units was once owned by the legendary Hollywood mogul, Lew Wasserman.

Mr. Boyett’s newly renovated home has approximately 4,500 square feet of interior space and a total of 1,800 square feet of exterior space split over two planted terraces that offer sweeping, unobstructed views west and south.

“There are open, endless views across the park, up to the George Washington Bridge and down to the Empire State Building and midtown,” said Mr. Erickson. “The apartment is for someone who wants a significant piece of Manhattan.”

In addition to his television credits, Mr. Boyett, a New York native, is also-as of late-an accomplished Broadway producer. His theater credits include many of the most acclaimed and popular shows of the last two years, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Topdog/Underdog ; Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? , which won the Tony Award for Best Play; Arthur Miller’s The Crucible ; and Sweet Smell of Success .

His triple-mint-condition apartment at the Sherry-Netherland has exposures in all directions, two corner living rooms, a corner study, a formal dining room and five bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. He lined the professional chef’s kitchen with rare Brazilian blue Bahia marble, and his master-bedroom suite has two dressing rooms and a walk-in closet.

“It’s one of the most beautiful apartments on Fifth Avenue,” said Laurance Kaiser, president of Key Ventures Realty, which specializes in luxury properties. “Big, beautiful rooms with a wonderful flow. Roger [Erickson] is lucky to get the listing.”

Mr. Erickson said Mr. Boyett bought all four units on the floor individually and then assembled them one by one. He couldn’t provide details about the date or purchase prices of any of the units by press time. The apartment also comes with two maids’ rooms on separate floors, and whoever ends up as the new owner will be on the hook for monthly maintenance payments of $30,000.

The apartment next-door to Mr. Boyett’s also just hit the market this month for $5.5 million under broker Leighton Candler of the Corcoran Group, but the two units can’t be easily combined, as they are separated by fire stairs.



235 East 22nd Street

One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $499,000. Selling: $499,000.

Maintenance: $1,357, 52 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one month.

RULE ESPAÑA When you have a vacation retreat on the coast in southern Spain, it can be hard to re-create the breezy European lifestyle in New York City. So when a senior director at American Express and his wife, a registered nurse, wanted a midweek nest in the city, they decided on this one-bedroom Gramercy pied-à-terre with a private roof deck and landscaped garden. “The 1929 Art Deco building has a private landscaped garden in the back; it felt very European,” said Christine Barranca, a sales associate at Douglas Elliman. Ms. Barranca represented the buyers, who, in addition to their vacation spread in Spain, plan to keep their current residence in leafy Tarrytown, N.Y., as a weekend house. Ms. Barranca said the husband travels regularly on business. “So the couple wanted a midweek place that’s right in the city,” she said. “It makes it easier for work.” Unfortunately, the building doesn’t come with the perk that every Gramercy resident covets: a key to the park. But the 950-square-foot co-op does feature mahogany floors and expansive views of the neo-Gothic, Cass Gilbert–designed Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway. Ellen Rick, also a sales associate at Douglas Elliman, had the exclusive.

Cry Me a River