January 1981 was such a simpler, happier time! A sprightly, nice-faced ex-actor named Ronald Reagan succeeded old Jimmy Carter, and, poof, Iran released its American hostages after 444 days; the stainless steel, gull-winged DeLorean cruised off the production line; and a man named Murray H. Goodman paid just $1.41 million (according to notes kept by a New York brokerage) for a duplex at 960 Fifth Avenue, probably the finest apartment house in the country.
Mr. Goodman, a shopping center magnate whose eponymous firm has developed, owned and managed over 18 million square feet of shopping complexes from Neptune, N.J., to Bethlehem, Pa., is putting his 960 Fifth sprawl on the market for $32.5 million, according to two sources. He and his wife, Joanie, live in Palm Beach, where their glittering pool was immortalized in a particularly creepy Slim Aarons photograph.
Broker Eva Mohr at Sotheby’s, who, according to the two sources, is handling the fifth-floor duplex, would not comment.
The all-limestone 960 Fifth Avenue is the kind of Rosario Candela building where, as a broker once told The Observer, you’re poor if you have less than $100 million; divorcee Anne Bass’ unit is said to approach 10,000 square feet; The Times once called the building “12 mansions built one on top of another.” (The environs are so proper that Claus von Bülow “had the good taste to sell his eighth-floor apartment” after being acquitted of attempted murder, the writer Steven Gaines has said; the man’s alleged victim was his wife, Sunny, who died this month after decades in a vegetative state.)
Despite all that appropriateness, and despite the duplex’s four bedrooms (plus library, living room, formal dining room and large eat-in kitchen that may have been carved out of the old staff quarters, a source said), nothing is an easy sell these days. And it doesn’t help that the biggest apartment deal so far in the building, city records suggest, was a $16.9 million sale two years ago to former Goldman Sachs vice chairman Roy Zuckerberg. Mr. Goodman’s asking tag is just about twice that sum.
Why is he selling? Even considering the Palm Beach–rattling Bernie Madoff catastrophe, it’s difficult to imagine Mr. Goodman could be suffering financially. In one quarter last year alone, for example, he gave $25,000 to the Republican National Committee, $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $2,100 to John McCain and $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani. Calls to his office were not returned.