Blackstone's Tony James Ascends to Heaven, Buys Hal Prince's 834 Fifth Duplex

It's a duplex. (

As if he needed any confirmation, Blackstone president and COO Hamilton James is, truly, utterly, incontrovertibly a master of the universe.

The Observer know this because city records just revealed him and wife Amabel as the mystery buyers of Hal Prince‘s long-suffering duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue, declared as “The Top” in these very pages. Hopefully the bad luck up in the penthouse does not wear off on the Jameses.

Update: With his $24.9 million purchase ($400,000 shy of what we first heard in May), Mr. James, who prefers Tony, joins the rarefied real estate pedigree of  Blackstone founders Stephen Schwarzman and Peter Peterson. The former paid $30 million in 2000 for the triplex in rival-best-building 740 Park—it is the largest apartment in the city—while the latter bought the old Rockefeller penthouse at 810 Fifth from David Geffern for $37.5 million three years ago.

Ann Jeffery, who listed the 11-room duplex in January, called it “perfectly exceptional” and “magnificent” in her Brown Harris Stevens listing. All the same, the home sat on the market for almost two years and falling in price from a more princely sum of $33 million. There are three bedrooms and two terraces on the upper floor, and two more terraces on the floor below, as well as all the entertaining spaces.

“It’s an utterly charming apartment,” said Kirk Henkels, director of Stribling Private Brokerage, who was not involved with the deal. “I think it was worth every penny of it.” He said the rare opportunity to have a terrace in the building overlooking the park was unheralded. The James are moving from 1001 Park Avenue, where the couple has been living at least since the 1980s, according to city records. It is a nice if unremarkable prewar co-op that The Times‘ Streetscapes columnist Christopher Gray called “most unusual,” “purpose-built” and “high-end.”

As for the long-brewing sale, there was the challenge of price, even for a storied building like 834 Fifth, but also the recession, which has been rather kind to Blackstone. “They did live through the nadir of the market,” he said.

In addition to a recently pied media mogul and his wife, the Jameses’ neighbors include Laurie Tisch next door (she paid $29 million), a Levi’s widower and fellow Wall Street titan John Guetfreund.

mchaban [at] | @MC_NYC

Blackstone's Tony James Ascends to Heaven, Buys Hal Prince's 834 Fifth Duplex