By the time the British skyscraper developer Howard Ronson died last year, he’d paid $22.95 million to buy up a 32-room spread in an epic 19th-century townhouse on Fifth Avenue (called the Berwind Mansion, after the wartime coal magnate who built it). Eleven months later, his estate added an $11 million unit there–leaving only two other apartments in the mansion before his family owns the whole thing.
It’s a genius real estate move: Buying a heroically massive mansion piece by piece is a whole lot cheaper than buying one that’s already whole.
As the Times reported this weekend, the late Ronson is connected to another huge deal, just a few blocks away at the magnificent 2 East 67th Street co-op. Oddly, the paper gave no credit to earlier reports in the Post and the Daily News. Even odder, both the Post and the Times reported that the apartment is being sold by Angelika Ronson, his widow.
Actually, the East 67th apartment belonged to Myrna Ronson, a previous wife, according to city records.
But oddest of all is the price that Jonathan Tisch, the co-chairman of his family’s multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, the Loews Corporation, will be paying for the apartment. The reported price is $48 million, a New York co-op record.
Sure, there are 14 rooms, not including a 52-foot-long hall, or the sauna and silver and china closets listed on the floorplan. But consider that the apartment had been listed at only $40 million, 20 percent less, which makes more sense for a one-floor apartment: The previous co-op record holders were writer Georgia Shreve’s two-floor $46 million spread, and the Rockefeller triplex at 834 Fifth Avenue that Rupert Murdoch bought for $44 million.
This morning, two top brokers pointed out that if Mr. Tisch, an heir to a fortune intertwined with insurance, tobacco, hotels, oil and gas, can afford to pay whatever he’d like for the apartment, he may as well pay whatever he’d like.
And here’s some recompense for Mr. Tisch: He just sold his old place, a duplex that had cost him $5.75 million, to Starbucks’ founder Howard Schultz for $24.75 million.