The Muppet Manse Isn't for Jesse, But What About James?

No sooner did The Observer report that Jesse Angelo had signed the deed for an East 69th Street mansion that once belonged to Jim Henson than News Corp. announced that Rupert Murdoch’s son James would be taking over the No. 3 spot at his dad’s company, as happened this morning. News Corp.’s release notes that the younger Mr. Murdoch will be relocating to New York, so it follows he would need a place to stay, a point made earlier today by Felix Salmon, a blogger.

And there is reason to believe News Corp. feared this might be found out.

In addition to Mr. Angelo’s name, there was another on the deed, one that points directly to the executive suite. Taxes are to be paid by “Statler LLC c/o Clare Sweeney.” Ms. Sweeney, it turns out, is Rupert Murdoch’s assistant. Numerous brokers insisted there is no way he would abandon his palace in the sky at 834 Fifth, for which he paid $44 million, all cash, in 2005. (Have we mentioned the Muppet Mansion was an all-cash buy, too?) When The Observer reached Ms. Sweeney yesterday, she declined to comment and promptly hung up the phone.

Meanwhile, two sources insist the home, which was being sold by fellow media titan Edgar Bronfman Jr., is not for Mr. Angelo, who is “living the bachelor’s life downtown and would have no idea what to do with 12,000 square feet” (that is the size of the 40-foot-wide home). Nor is it for his parents, as John and Judy Angelo have been happily ensconced at the Dakota for decades, according to city records and a source.

“As the children of Anna [Murdoch] move up in the world, they may need houses in New York,” one broker said.

The last (and first) property James Murdoch ever owned was another townhouse, at 58 Downing Street in Greenwich Village. He bought the home for $1.325 million in 1998, according to city records, two years after he joined News Corp. as an executive vice president. He took out a $700,000 mortgage to help pay for the place, which is a relatively miniscule 2,560 square feet, and sold it three years later for $1.993 million–not a bad deal.

News Corp. thoroughly declined to comment.

(Meanwhilde, not even Mr. Bronfman’s daughter, Vanessa, who co-brokered the deal, knows who the buyer is. Her father handed over the commission check and that was it.)

RELATED: Bronfman Socked on Muppet Mansion by Murdoch Minion. >>

mchaban [at] | @mc_nyo

The Muppet Manse Isn't for Jesse, But What About James?