The 104-year-old, 36-foot-wide, 17-bathroom, 15-bedroom, 11-fireplace mansion at 18 East 68th Street was the most expensive house in New York when it was listed last year for $64 million. Even when that tag came down in January to $54 million, the price was still higher than any Manhattan mansion had ever sold for.
It was pulled from the market in July, but is being re-listed this week with a new broker at a very new asking price: $39 million. “It’s very good to have a property that’s this fine on the market at such a compelling price,” Corcoran’s Leighton Candler, the new agent, said. “There’s no question about that.”
Ms. Candler speaks in a polite Southern drawl, is followed around by a black pug she calls Major Commitment, and is apt to reference Marilyn Monroe songs, and yet she broke the city’s co-op sales record in January 2008. She did it again six months later.
But this is a very different era. Unless something seismic happens before the end of next month, 2009 will be known as the year New Yorkers learned they won’t always get hysterically gargantuan sums for their plush real estate. The $80 million 15 Central Park West penthouse was re-listed in February for $47.5 million, a month before the $65 million Time Warner Center penthouse was cut to $49 million. In July, the $51 million Trump Park Avenue penthouse was re-listed at $31 million; a month later, Brooke Astor’s duplex up the block, once $46 million, was chopped to $24.9 million.
But the price cut is different at 18 East 68th Street, known as the Sloane Mansion, because anxiety is openly acknowledged. “The owners have a real need to sell in the first quarter of next year, or sooner,” said Lawrence J. Selevan of Chesterfield Faring, a financial adviser to the owners. “They need to raise the capital to take care of other issues.”
The house was bought in 2007 for $20 million by a limited liability corporation connected to Joseph Ingrassia and John R. Rice III, founding partners of the merchant banking firm Capstone. Mr. Selevan said they spent nearly $11 million more to buy out the remaining tenants in the mansion, which had been divided into apartments decades ago.
“This was their only venture into residential real estate,” Ms. Candler offered. “They don’t want to do it again.”
The Web site PropertyShark puts the house’s size at 18,267 square feet, which is slightly smaller than what the previous listing had advertised. Either way, the buyer will have a lot of work to do. “Someone is going to rebuild the house from the inside,” Ms. Candler said.
There was once a time, way back when the market was joyous and bubbly, that brokers overpriced townhouses—even ones that needed work—to make them seem more attractive. “A $5,000 dress in a window on Madison Avenue is much more interesting to a woman than a $1,000 dress,” Brown Harris Stevens’ John Burger said when the townhouse at 870 Park Avenue was listed for $33 million, even though it hadn’t sold at $19.9 million.
That was March 2008. Its tag was cut to $17.5 million this June, but the house, 10 blocks up from the Sloane Mansion, still hasn’t sold.
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