One of the Upper East Side’s oddest townhouse stories–a tale about two top brokers and a herringbone-floored mansion with 18 rooms and 10 fireplaces–has taken an amazing U-turn.
The story started a few years ago, when a convicted sex offender living in California was fighting with his siblings over the family’s 13,137-square-foot limestone mansion at 9 East 67th Street. It took three Corcoran brokers and 14 months, but the Russian real estate investor Janna Bullock finally bought the house from the bickering family in April 2005 for $10 million.
That’s when the real fun started. That November the house was on the market again, listed by two Stribling brokers for $29 million; in 2006, it came off the market; in autumn 2007, it was on again, this time for $35 million and with Sotheby’s Nikki Field, who has her own boutique group of well-coiffed ladies at that posh brokerage.
This June, The Observer noticed that Warburg Realty’s top broker Richard Steinberg had gotten the listing. So this reporter called up Ms. Field to ask if she’d indeed lost the listing for Ms. Bullock’s 18-room mansion from 1888. "We handle all of her properties," she said. The next day she called back to repeat, "We hold an exclusive."
Mr. Steinberg? "Well, she’s a liar," he told The Observer then. "I have no idea why she would even say that. … She has no connection. She’s not the listing broker. I have a signed exclusive."
A few minutes later, in another phone call, Ms. Field agreed. "I will confirm that it is with Richard Steinberg," she said. "It is not a rivalry. It is Sotheby’s choice not to present a house until we feel a property is ready for the market"—fully renovated and without any tenants. "Certainly, we wish that Mr. Steinberg sells the house; should he not, since we’ve been working so closely with her, we certainly expect to have the house back.”
That’s exactly what happened yesterday, when Ms. Field got the listing back. The mansion now costs $29 million, down from Mr. Steinberg’s $34.9 million price tag.
Ironically, a note sent out to brokers last month, back when Mr. Steinberg had the listing, said that a contract had been out on the house. "The economic climate made the buyer, at this point, not willing to proceed," the broker said today, explaining why that deal didn’t happen.
Asked to comment on getting her listing back, Ms. Field only said, "Restoration is now complete and the house is in move-in condition."