Sheppie on the Block

Fox News may be the bastion of conservative red-state America, but its anchors have made themselves at home in the

Fox News may be the bastion of conservative red-state America, but its anchors have made themselves at home in the liberal enclave of Greenwich Village. Shepard Smith, the clean-shorn host of the No. 1–rated Fox Report , recently purchased a 2,341-square-foot loft for $1.87 million on West 13th Street, city records show. The two-bedroom spread, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, has one and a half bathrooms, 14-foot ceilings, oversize windows and access to the building’s common roof garden.

“It’s got a wonderful feeling of openness and space. It’s a true loft,” Beverley Rouse, a vice president with the Corcoran Group, said of the apartment, though the exclusive broker declined to comment on the buyer’s identity.

Mr. Smith declined to comment on his Greenwich Village purchase.

The apartment first hit the market in March with an asking price of $1.87 million, before Mr. Smith closed on the third-floor spread for the same price in May.

Mr. Smith, 40, has been with the News Corp. cable network for more than five years and helms two programs, the nightly Fox Report and the afternoon interview program Studio B with Shepard Smith .

A native of Holly Springs, Miss., Mr. Smith began his career in broadcast journalism at an NBC affiliate in Panama City, Fla., before landing at the syndicated tabloid show A Current Affair and, later, as an L.A.-based Fox News Edge correspondent, where he covered stories including the T.W.A. Flight 800 crash off Long Island, the Montana Freemen standoff and the 1996 Presidential campaign.

But it was on the set of The Fox Report in November 2002 that Mr. Smith became infamous among cable news watchers for his gaffe involving Jennifer Lopez. In a story about her hit song “Jenny From the Block” and the reaction it was getting from her childhood neighborhood in the Bronx, Mr. Smith was prompted to read that they were more likely to “give her a curb job than a block party.”

But it turned out to be a real mouthful, and the hapless anchor instead read that J. Lo’s neighbors were more likely to “give her a curb job than a blowjob.”

At the time, Mr. Smith described the J. Lo incident to The Observer as “life’s darkest moment.” Now, with his new Greenwich Village loft and his recently being named the second-most-trusted news anchor in a TV Guide poll, Mr. Smith’s career seems not to have stumbled in the least.

The regal East 64th Street townhouse belonging to the estate of the late businesswoman and philanthropist Lillian Berkman has just gone to contract. The 10,000-square-foot property at 22 East 64th Street carried a $19.5 million asking price before recently finding a buyer. Berkman died in May 2001 at 79, and the residence had been listing since 2003.

Fred Williams of Sotheby’s International Realty had the exclusive listing and didn’t return calls seeking comment.

The sale of the Berkman estate is just the latest sign that the demand for ultra-luxury properties continues apace. The six-floor mansion sits on perhaps the most prized block in all of Manhattan, between Fifth and Madison avenues. The block is home to some of the most opulent townhouses in the world, including Seagram heir Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s $40 million home, art dealer Guy Wildenstein’s $35 million mansion and the residence of former Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola, which traded for nearly $20 million last year.

The Berkman estate offered a similarly luxurious pedigree. The 25-foot-wide townhouse was configured as a two-bedroom and was set up as a formal entertaining space, with 18th-century walls, an elevator and a private rear garden. The residence was also home to Berkman’s extensive fine-art collection, including Italian Renaissance paintings and 18th- and 19th-century woodblock prints once owned by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Real-estate sources said the home felt more like a museum than a cozy living space.

“If a foundation or a club doesn’t buy it, I couldn’t imagine a human being wanting to live like that,” said a broker who recently toured the space.

Berkman was a pioneering businesswoman who amassed a fortune as head of the company she founded, the American Tractor Corporation. She also became one of the first women to serve on the boards of major companies, including the Allied Stores Corporation and the Sterling National Bank. She exercised her love for the arts by serving as a fellow at the Morgan Library, the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also served as an advisory director of the Metropolitan Opera.

Now that the Berkman estate and Mr. Mottola’s East 64th Street spreads have traded hands, Upper East Side real-estate watchers are wondering when the next batch of mansions will hit the still-buoyant luxury market. After languishing without a buyer in the post–Sept. 11 slump, Mr. Bronfman and Mr. Wildenstein pulled their townhouses off the shopping block. The Berkman sale may be just the encouragement needed for Messrs. Bronfman and Wildenstein to make another foray into the market.

P ALIGN=”JUSTIFY” Sheppie on the Block