Write Down This! Deutsche’s Old Mortgage Securities Maestro Gets $9.3 M. for Co-op

It’s hard to grasp what mortgage-backed securities are, or why they’re wreaking gruesome havoc on the global economy. (Actually, an excellent little article by a Slate editorial assistant named Chris Wilson explains that companies like Bear Stearns buy up bouquets of mortgages from primary lenders, then use monthly payments from homeowners as a nice little revenue stream—a plan that backfires when the housing market wobbles or interest rates climb.)

But back in the rosier days of March 2005, when Anilesh Ahuja had recently become the head of the multibillion-dollar mortgage-backed securities group at Deutsche Bank, he and his wife spent $7.5 million on a five-bedroom apartment at 120 East End Avenue, the high-nosed co-op building put up by Vincent Astor in 1931.

According to records, Deutsche Bank even got involved in the apartment’s financing, though it’s not clear how much was lent, or at what rates. Since then, Mr. Ahuja’s mortgage group has suffered dramatically, and a spokesperson for the bank said this week that he’s no longer with the company. On the upside, he sold off his East End apartment late last month for $9.3 million, according to a deed. (One day after the sale, Deutsche Bank announced that it had written down the value of its mortgage-backed securities by $1.5 billion.)

That deed puts the Ahujas’ new address at the penthouse at 807 Park Avenue, a 5,577-square-foot space currently on the market for nearly $16 million. The building, once owned by rap impresario Sean Combs, has been practically empty for well over 20 years (because of weird foreclosure and construction and broker troubles).

The couple could not be reached through their brokers, Deutsche Bank, or the East End apartment. Their old listing, which said the co-op’s original 14 rooms had been turned into 11, had an asking price of $10 million—or, oddly, 6,730,000 Euros. According to floor plans, a 12-by-12.5-foot wet bar adjoins the 26.5-foot-long kitchen; a hefty foyer adjoins the private elevator landing; and there’s a 30-foot-wide living room with a wood-burning fireplace, a slightly more modest dining room, a library (with another fireplace) and a family room.

mabelson@observer.com Write Down This! Deutsche’s Old Mortgage Securities Maestro Gets $9.3 M. for Co-op