River House Vacancy! Yet Another Spread Up for Sale, This One Asking $29 M.

Too many unsold apartments, especially massive apartments with servants’ halls and bedrooms with fireplaces, are a terrible thing for a

Too many unsold apartments, especially massive apartments with servants’ halls and bedrooms with fireplaces, are a terrible thing for a famously pricey, scarily selective building like River House, probably the best co-op building off Fifth and Park avenues. The supply of River House spreads is supposed to be chicly low; demand is supposed to be desperately high.

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Nevertheless, an A-line apartment on a low floor just went on the market for $29 million, and it has a bit of company.

According to city records, the seller is Laura Pels, who “remade herself from the quietly supportive wife of a very rich man”—she divorced broadcasting businessman Donald Pels in 1992, after he made about $200 million in a takeover—“into a major, albeit press-shy, benefactress of American theater,” a short New Yorker profile said in 1995.

On the bright side, Ms. Pels’ 13-room place has a library and 30-foot-long living room with a wood-burning fireplace; a 15.5-foot-long servants’ hall and a double maid’s room; two 11-foot-long balconies overlooking the East River off the dining room and master bedroom; and then a 45.5-foot-long terrace facing south.

On the downside, it’s now the building’s third listing for well over $20 million, not including a $39 million duplex that is still available, but apparently not officially on the market. City records suggest nothing in the building has sold recently for more than $10 million.

Ms. Pels didn’t respond to messages left at her home and office asking for her thoughts on the apartment. But she doesn’t seem like the overly optimistic type: “When she is complimented on her apartment’s East River view,” that New Yorker profile says, “she recalls a shock she had a few years ago when she looked out a window and saw a corpse floating by.”

mabelson@observer.com

River House Vacancy! Yet Another Spread Up for Sale, This One Asking $29 M.