Breaking up is hard to do, but this summer Brill Building popster Neil Sedaka did just that when he walled off a part of his apartment at 480 Park Avenue and sold it for $2.9 million.
“Please be advised we have not moved out of our apartment,” Leba Sedaka, Neil’s manager and wife of over 40 years, wrote in an e-mail to The Observer. “We owned two apartments in the building and sold one of them. We LOVE the building and the neighborhood.”
The two apartments she’s talking about are, however, next-door to each other: In 1995, the couple bought the second apartment from the estate of fashion guru Rose Wells Bing, paying $825,000. Bing, the first woman to be a vice president at both Ohrbach’s and, later, at Federated Department Stores, spent two decades advising the Gap, working until the day before her death.
“They opened the wall to make it into one apartment,” said their broker, Martha Kramer of Fox Residential. “They connected it to theirs, but it was still self-contained. They didn’t change the floor plan.
“And when they sold it, it had to become its own apartment again. Otherwise, they would have roommates.”
The other apartment is big enough for them anyway, Ms. Kramer said. (Ms. Sedaka used to call the annexed apartment the ‘Bing Wing,’ but they never used it; it became an ‘expensive big closet!’) And in the Sedaka Wing?
“There’s a library with all of Neil’s gold records and an incredible master-bedroom suite …. The beauty closets would be the envy of any female alive.”
Plus there’s Mr. Sedaka’s piano in the living room, where he continues to compose and play music. He’s got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; he’s been nominated for a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Just last year, a re-issue of his hit song “Amarillo” topped the charts in Britain, and at a sell-out concert in April at Royal Albert Hall in London, the publishers of Guinness World Records named the song the Best-Selling Single of the 21st Century in the U.K.
The buyers, and the Sedakas’ new next-door neighbors, are former University of Pennsylvania president Judith Rodin and her husband Paul Verkuil, the former head of the College of William and Mary.
Ms. Rodin was the first woman to become the president of an Ivy League school when she took her post in 1994, and within five years had reportedly become the best-paid university head in the country.
She stepped down in 2004 and, a year later, joined the multibillion-dollar Rockefeller Foundation as president. Calls to her office, and to her broker Bill Blind at Brown Harris Stevens, were not returned.
The Sedakas originally put the apartment on the market in April 2005 for $3.2 million. According to the original listing, the living room, two bedrooms and two bathrooms all have Park Avenue views. There is also a closet that Ms. Kramer joked was big enough for “a child or small horse.”
Emery Roth designed the building, which stands at the northeast corner of 58th Street on Park Avenue, in 1928, though the ornate roof garden wasn’t added until recently, by former Vogue creative director Jade Hobson Charnin.
Lindemann Downsizes to $10.5 M. ‘Bachelorette’
Socialite Elizabeth Graham Lindemann, the ex-wife of art collector Adam Lindemann, has bought a bachelorette pad at 730 Park Avenue. She paid $10.5 million for the 11-room co-op, $1 million less than the asking price.
The apartment is one floor below the home she once shared with her husband; Ms. Lindemann sold that apartment in June for $21.5 million to hedge-fund manager Ottavio Frank Biondi Jr. (no relation to the ex-Viacom C.E.O.), whose new 5,600-square-foot apartment has full views of Park Avenue.
Ms. Lindemann will have to settle for north, south and west exposures—plus a wood-paneled library with a wood-burning fireplace, a drawing room (ditto the fireplace), a formal dining room and three staff rooms.
Then there’s the master bedroom with something called a loggia. We turn now to Corcoran superbroker and senior vice president Sharon Baum, who said she wouldn’t confirm the identities of the buyer or seller, which are listed in city records, but would tell us what a loggia is.
“Depending on how large they are, you might call it a sun room or a conservatory. Or a greenhouse,” Ms. Baum said. “All glass, floor to ceiling, and it’s open.”
Ms. Lindemann bought her apartment from the estate of telecommunications magnate Charles Wohlstetter, which was represented by Ms. Baum. Wohlstetter formed Contel in 1961, which grew into a $6 billion company by the time it was acquired by GTE in 1991. He passed away in 1995; Rose Wohlstetter, his widow, died this May.
“I hate the word ‘volume,’” said Ms. Baum. “But the volume was so great—just a very gracious apartment.”
Ms. Lindemann has reportedly been dating financier Todd Meister, the ex-husband of hotel heiress Nicky Hilton, whom he married in 2004 before getting an annulment weeks later.
Sotheby’s International Realty broker Serena Boardman, who represented Ms. Lindemann, would not comment.
The building is famous for at least one reason: Along with 895Park, 730 was a haven for Jewish New Yorkers when anti-Semitism was the norm for “good” New York co-ops—“right up until the late 70’s, maybe even early 80’s,” said a broker who did high-end deals back then.
As for Adam Lindemann: This June, he married former model Amalia Dayan, the granddaughter of the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. They are reportedly living in the Time Warner Center, where they share space with pop masterpieces by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
At 77 East 77th, a few blocks up from his old Park Avenue apartment, Mr. Lindemann bought a Beaux-Arts carriage house in 2004. He paid $6.75 million for the building, built by A.M. Welch in 1897, and in January 2006 put it back on the market for $14 million. But after only 26 days on the market, Mr. Lindemann pulled the house back off. Guess who handled the property? Ms. Boardman—who, once again, would not comment.
Photographer Seeks ‘Old NY’ for $1.3 M.
Fashion photographer Karina Taira recently sold her apartment at 129 Lafayette Street to Fred Schepisi, the film director who is co-writing Steve Martin’s next movie, for $2.25 million.
Ms. Taira bought the place in January 2004, paying $1.909 million.
“My apartment was very grand and very fabulous,” Ms. Taira wrote in an e-mail while traveling in Thailand. “I think it has incredible, incredible views.”
But the apartment seems to have set off the shutterbug’s light meter.
“There was so much light it was almost too much,” wrote Ms. Taira, who has shot for Givenchy, Christian Dior and La Perla, in addition to Blackbook, Life Magazine and Premiere.
Maybe that’s why the five-and-a-half-room apartment—with its own balcony!—languished on the market for eight months. Or maybe not?
“It was a mystery to everyone,” said Prudential Douglas Elliman senior vice president Philip Altland, Ms. Taira’s broker. “This was considered to many brokers the best thing on the market. ‘It’s a block above Canal,’ people complained. That was the only thing I could see why people rejected it.”
But for Ms. Taira, the location had been a draw.
“It feels like the N.Y. I knew 10 years ago,” Ms. Taira wrote of her block on the Soho-Chinatown border. “Very intimate and like a little village.”
This June she picked up a $1.333 million apartment at the newly converted Croft Building at 71 Nassau Street, which “will be the next Lafayette Street neighborhood,” she said. “It has so much ambiance and mood. I feel like I am in a 30’s movie with the architecture.”
As for the old place, why it finally sold after its struggle on the market is hard to gauge.
Mr. Schepisi did not return calls placed to his agent’s office. And Ms. Taira’s broker didn’t know much more.
“What’s so funny,” said Mr. Altland, “is Schepisi came in and put an offer on the spot. I didn’t even know who he was.”
Here’s who he is: Mr. Schepisi directed 1993’s Six Degrees of Separation, and I.Q. the year later. More recently, he directed Richard Russo’s Empire Falls for HBO, and is now co-producing and co-writing Picasso at the Lapin Agile, based on Steve Martin’s 1993 play. His writing partner, of course, is Mr. Martin.
Three weeks before the Lafayette purchase, Mr. Schepisi and his wife Mary, an artist, sold their duplex condo at the Park Belvedere for $3.7 million. The buyer was Kenneth Vittor, an executive vice president of McGraw-Hill.