Brokers Bicker! Much Ado Over $35 M. Upper East Side Manse

The 13,137-square-foot limestone mansion at 9 East 67th Street will never again have dramatics as grand as that episode a few years ago, when a convicted sex offender living in California quibbled with his siblings over the family property. After a judge stepped in, the comely, slightly-mysterious, Russian real estate investor Janna Bullock (pictured) finally bought the house in April 2005 for $10 million.

By that November, it was on again for $29 million.

High-end Upper East Side brokers, the kind with pristine Palm Beach tans and Aspen ski-slope condos, can’t match the bickering of felonious heirs, but they have their own kind of drama. This month, the Web site of Warburg Realty showed that top broker Richard Steinberg had gotten Ms. Bullock’s listing on East 67th.

So The Observer called up Nikki Field, who has her own boutique group at Sotheby’s International Realty, and who had listed the house for $35 million, to ask about Ms. Bullock’s mansion. “We handle all of her properties,” she said. The next day the broker called back to say that Mr. Steinberg “has to do it through Sotheby’s. We hold an exclusive.”

“Well, she’s a liar,” Mr. Steinberg said later. “I have no idea why she would even say that. … She has no connection. She’s not the listing broker. I have a signed exclusive.”

In a third phone call a few minutes later, Ms. Field agreed. “I did not lose the listing, but I will confirm that it is with Richard Steinberg,” she said. “It is not a rivalry. It is Sotheby’s choice not to present a house until we feel a property is ready for the market”—fully renovated and without any tenants.

In the meantime, Ms. Bullock’s asking price with Mr. Steinberg has gone up to $34.9 million, because the seller received Landmarks approval to add in a new limestone stoop. “Now in the final stages of this work,” his listing says, “a new elevator and restoration of the original beaux arts main entry will be completed in the upcoming months.”

“Certainly, we wish that Mr. Steinberg sells the house,” Ms. Field said, “should he not, since we’ve been working so closely with her, we certainly expect to have the house back.”

mabelson@observer.com Brokers Bicker! Much Ado Over $35 M. Upper East Side Manse