Blowing Off the Bubble, Fifth Avenue Starts Asking $50 M.! Plus: Jon Stewart Wants $4 M.; Tahari Rents to J. Crew on East End

Lately, ominous headlines suggest that the real-estate bubble is about to burst. But some sellers seem impervious to the dire warnings, placing several high-priced properties-both townhouses and co-ops-on the frenzied luxury market.

On April 7, the Duke Semans Mansion at 1009 Fifth Avenue entered the market at $50 million. Over 19,000 square feet, the 27-foot-wide residence carried a record-breaking asking price for a townhouse. Although the Beaux Arts mansion was temporarily taken off the market, it quickly returned; it is currently cross-listed with Brown Harris Stevens brokers Paula Del Nunzio and Shirley Mueller, and the Corcoran Group’s Sharon Baum.

Toward the end of April, a duplex penthouse at 810 Fifth Avenue, once owned by Nelson Rockefeller, entered the market at a staggering $39 million. Listed with Upper East Side boutique brokerage Edward Lee Cave, the asking price more than doubled what was paid only five years ago. In 2000, NovaCare Inc. founder John H. Foster purchased the 5,000-square-foot co-op for $16 million, leaving behind his celebrated 740 Park Avenue address.

Although not officially listed, an architectural gem at 25 East 78th Street can now be had for $50 million, according to Meredyth Smith of Sotheby’s International Realty. “Sotheby’s has long represented this owner on their New York real-estate holdings, and they would now consider selling under the right circumstances for $50 million,” she said on their behalf. The Stanford White–designed, 18,000-square-foot townhouse was last sold by Leslie Wexner for about $32 million in 2000.

The most recent listing is the palatial townhouse at 926 Fifth Avenue, which carries a whopping $45 million price tag. The lavish townhouse is not completely new to the market. Until a few weeks ago, it was available for $23.8 million-but with a catch.

For close to $24 million, the buyer would only receive a 49-year leasehold. After a half-century, the gargantuan residence would fall back into the hands of the estate of the owners, a wealthy European family, according to source with knowledge of the listing.

Several top Brown Harris Stevens brokers-Gerald Crown, Sami Hassoumi and Marguerite De La Poer (now at Sotheby’s International Realty)-tried to sell the townhouse with this unusual stipulation. After six months of looking for a buyer, Victoria Ghilaga of Stribling and Associates obtained the coveted listing to sell the home outright, rather than merely offering an extended lease. Ms. Ghilaga declined to comment about the property.

In 1899, John W. Simpson built the 12,000-square-foot townhouse, along with its neighbor across the street 925 Fifth Avenue. The luxurious building includes six floors, enough space for 16 rooms and nine baths. One of the bedroom suites even features a separate living room and kitchenette. There is also a conference and screening room, library, living room, dining room and three office suites with a private entrance.

The townhouse’s fifth floor is configured with approximately 2,000 square feet of open space.

Richly detailed, the ornate residence also features 11-foot ceilings and Palladian windows. Located between 73rd and 74th streets, the townhouse boasts views of Central Park from either the rooftop deck or two front balconies. There is also a 1,500-square-foot garden.

On Stribling’s Web site, the property is described rather paradoxically as “ideal for relaxed family living or gracious formal entertaining.” Feet off the coffee table, kids!

If sold at asking prices, each of the townhouses at 926 and 1009 Fifth Avenue, or the property at 25 East 78th Street, would eclipse the current record sale for a Manhattan residence, recently set by Rupert Murdoch at 834 Fifth Avenue. The News Corp. head reportedly paid $44 million for Laurance Rockefeller’s triplex penthouse.

After The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart purchased a 6,000-square-foot loft in Tribeca, reported first in this space, the comedian still had some unfinished business in Greenwich Village.

His 2,240-square-foot apartment is being listed with Prudential Douglas Elliman for $3.995 million, nearly $1.4 million more than Mr. Stewart paid for it in April 2002. The apartment receives ample light, and features a 1,540-square-foot terrace. Located on a high floor, the potential buyer would be able to enjoy superb open city views.

Through a spokesperson, Mr. Stewart declined to comment.

Fashion designer Elie Tahari recently purchased a commercial unit at 46 Main Street in East Hampton Village for $2.6 million, according to property records. The space is located next door to Mr. Tahari’s boutique at 48 Main Street.

A spokesperson for Mr. Tahari confirmed the sale, mentioning that the purchase was made as part of the company’s retail strategy, but would not elaborate on the prospect of combining it with the current store.

However, at least for the summer, preppy retailer J. Crew plans to occupy the 46 Main Street address, temporarily leasing the space to test East Hampton’s clothing market.

Mr. Tahari has been on an East End buying spree in the past few months. He reportedly purchased the 2.3-acre oceanfront home of late advertising maven Jay Chiat at the end of last year. Located in Sagaponack, Mr. Tahari’s 17,000-square-foot home features a 60-foot Gunite pool, and is only steps from the beach.

Recent Transactions in the Real Estate Market

Upper West Side

43 West 61st Street Two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo. Asking: $1.55 million. Selling: $1.601 million. Charges: $986; taxes: $5,652. Time on the market: two months.

NOTHING COULD BE FINER A couple that had long ago retired to Chapel Hill, N.C., decided they were finally ready to cut off their last link to Manhattan and say goodbye to their beloved apartment. They first listed their Upper West Side condo in July 2004 at $1.995 million, but it refused to budge. In March 2005 the asking price was reduced to $1.55 million, and it was scooped up two months later. The 1,140-square-foot condo features a 648-square-foot terrace with excellent views of the Hudson River and Lincoln Center. Other features included a whirlpool tub and separate shower in the master bathroom. “It’s a prewar, landmark co-op with newer amenities,” said Robyn Frank-Pedersen of the Corcoran Group. The full-service building includes both a concierge and doorman. The Sofia is a landmarked building at West 61st Street that was converted to condos in 1985, and the sellers have been living there since the sponsor units were available. Robin Hudis, also of the Corcoran Group, represented the buyers.


151 West 17th Street Three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo. Asking: $3.6 million. Selling: $3.525 million. Charges: $2,625; taxes: $4,572. Time on the market: three months.

WHOLE IN ONE Tired of renting in Manhattan, a single buyer working in the financial market asked his broker for the following: a prime Chelsea location, great views, ample light, outdoor space and a doorman. “It met all of his criteria,” said Leonard Steinberg of Prudential Douglas Elliman, who found the desired apartment at close to $1,000 per square foot. “It was the official bargain of the year,” said Mr. Steinberg. The luxury condominium-along with one other-comprises the Campiello Collection. Built on the former site of the Barneys parking lot, this modern residence sits across from the Rubin Museum of Art. The 3,500-square-foot apartment includes a 690-square-foot terrace with open views. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom spread includes floor-to-ceiling windows, a fireplace and an 80-foot living room that is “the size of a bowling alley,” according to broker Tim Norton of Cantor and Pecorella, who has sold over 15 apartments in the building. Mr. Norton’s sellers initially purchased the apartment along with an adjacent one, hoping to combine the two units into a lavish triplex. However, an apartment came on the market that perfectly met the couple’s needs, making their opulent dreams come true (without any renovation anxiety).

Blowing Off the Bubble, Fifth Avenue Starts Asking $50 M.! Plus: Jon Stewart Wants $4 M.; Tahari Rents to J. Crew on East End