Manhattan’s high-heeled real estate market is excruciatingly gloomy these days: One top-ranked broker was reached via cell phone on Monday while on a run in Florida, explaining that it was important to stay away from the metropolis’ fiery awfulness for the time being. It’s a different kind of gloom than in the rest of the country, where nearly one in four homeowners with mortgages owe more on payments than their houses are actually worth. But it’s gloom nonetheless. And prim Upper East Siders are doing gloomy things.
Consider Karen Fleiss, a hedge fund manager and former Barnard trustee, and her husband, David, an Upper East Side orthopedic surgeon at a sports injuries and arthritis surgery practice.
In June, they put their 16-room, eight-bedroom duplex at 1030 Fifth Avenue on the market for $47.5 million. If the duplex had gotten that asking price, it would have been the most expensive co-op sale in the city’s history. “I’m buying something else, so what difference does it make to me?” Ms. Fleiss told The Observer in July when asked if it was a good time to be listing an apartment for so much money. “None! Zero!”
The price for the unit, on floors three and four, went down to $39.9 million in August and then to $34.5 million in October. But last week, Corcoran’s Sharon Baum and Brown Harris Stevens’ Fritzi Kallop listed the bottom floor—by itself—for $15 million.
“If she’s going to stay, she wants to stay on the fourth floor, that’s just the one she prefers,” Ms. Kallop said. “Originally, it was two apartments; she’s the one who combined them,” the broker pointed out. “She made a beautiful stairway—lovely!”
Reached at the apartment, Ms. Fleiss would only say, “None of this is new news.” When asked about why she and her husband took the extraordinary step of listing one of the duplex’s floors separately, she hung up.
As it happens, Ms. Fleiss has had trouble selling off big real estate before. Vanity Fair reported that she sold a Perry Street condo to the filmmaker Vincent Gallo at a steep loss, after seven other sales had fallen through.
Maybe she’ll have better luck with the $15 million bottom-floor unit? The monthly maintenance is only $6,950 (instead of the duplex’s $14,556), and a floor plan shows a drawing room and dining room with wood-burning fireplaces; three bedrooms; a library; a gallery; a kitchen and breakfast room; a staff room and laundry room; and no fewer than seven walk-in closets.