People with morally murky careers have been dealing in good real estate lately. Last year, the brother of Kazakhstan’s dictator bought a $20 million Plaza apartment; the psychic magnate behind Miss Cleo bought a $24.48 million Time Warner Center spread; the disgraced WorldCom analyst Jack Grubman put his East 82nd mansion on the market for $32 million; and a middle-aged hotel executive whose 23-year-old girlfriend had just overdosed in his Las Vegas condo paid $10 million for a Soho penthouse.
Earlier this month, Elliman put the duplex penthouse at 1001 Park Avenue, where the Blackstone Group’s billionaire president Hamilton “Tony” James is head of the co-op board, on the market for $5.9 million.
The place recently housed the Cambridge-educated, rugby-playing Phillip Bennett, though he surrendered to the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix, N.J., last September. After his firm, Refco, once the biggest independent futures trader in the country, collapsed four years ago, Mr. Bennett pled guilty to bank fraud and money laundering, apologizing for a scheme that cheated investors out of $2.4 billion. When he was sentenced, a judge bemoaned the “staggeringly arrogant” crime.
“It’s beyond gorgeous, but that’s all I can say,” one of the listing brokers, Sabrina Saltiel, offered this week when asked about the penthouse. Then she hung up.
“I can’t comment, other than to tell you that it’s government property,” her colleague Daniela Kunen said later.
After posting a $50 million bail, Mr. Bennett was confined to the penthouse. That means, according to Elliman’s listing, he was stuck in a duplex with a wood-burning fireplace; a library with French doors leading to a wrap terrace; and a “lovely winding staircase” that brings you up to the master bedroom (which has its own “exceptional planted seating area and a private terrace”).
“It’s very attractive,” said Mr. James’ wife, Amabel, reached at 1001 Park. “You know who lived there forever? Mildred Natwick, the actress. Well, she’s dead, but she was a tiny little bird of a woman. So, yeah, it’s a nice apartment. It’s a charming apartment.” What is her husband’s co-op board looking for in a new duplex owner? “We don’t want anyone to be a crook,” she said.