Nothing brings out the Upper East Side’s morbidity and voraciousness like a death at 740 Park Avenue. When the Mosler Safe heiress (and duplex owner) Janet Coleman died two weeks ago at age 89, a big vacancy was created at the block’s most drooled-over, prime-cut co-op building.
“Up and down Madison Avenue, the noses of realtors have begun to twitch,” said Michael Gross, who published a nose-twitching biography of the building two years ago. “When I was writing the book, there was at least one realtor who kept a list of the most aged owners at 740 Park.” Geriatric co-op millionaires, beware!
But who could blame a broker for circling Ms. Coleman’s fourth-floor duplex? The last apartment to sell in the building—which went for $19.1 million in March 2005—was only two floors higher.
Top local brokers didn’t return a reporter’s calls about the vacancy. But tellingly, the Web site Curbed spotted Corcoran Group senior vice president Deborah Grubman and boutique brokerage doyenne Alice Mason at the memorial service last year for 740 Park’s Cheng Ching Wang—father of designer Vera Wang. (That apartment remains unsold.)
The late Ms. Coleman’s place isn’t as fashionable, but it has some ripe history. Fifty years ago, when Colonel William Schiff sold the place to Saks Fifth Avenue president Bruce Gimbel and his wife Barbara, it was the first apartment in the co-op to trade from one Jew to another.
Never mind that the colonel posed as an Episcopalian! “The wall barring Jews from the fortress,” Mr. Gross explains in 740 Park, “if there ever really was one, was down.” There are still other staggering thresholds: The building has never had an African-American owner, for example.
But instead of selling the place off, might Ms. Coleman’s children want to keep it in the family? Daughter Nancy apparently never liked the place: She reportedly used to have high-school dates drop her off (on motorcycles) around the corner.