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She's Still Here . . . Damn It!

Sandra Bernhard scores a Chelsea loft; $15 million for a spot in Ira Rennert's shadow

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Big Deals

Midtown West
205 West 57th Street
Two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,500-square-foot co-op. Asking: $1.39 million. Selling: $1.15 million. Maintenance: $1,990. Time on market: four weeks.

"We were ambitious in our pricing," admits Terry Herbert, a broker for the Corcoran Group. They must have been, given the fact that this place took a month to sell at the height of the market. An understated 1885 Chicago School building with extravagant ornamentation inside, the Osborne is a kind of Dakota across the street from Carnegie Hall and hence within walking distance of midtown offices. But once the buyers, a magazine publisher and a businessman, saw the three working fireplaces and the spectacular lobby, they decided the high price was worth it. (The Osborne has attracted residents such as Bobby Short, though it's a slightly longer commute to the Café Carlyle, and Leonard Bernstein lived there for a while.) "Everything clicked," says Herbert, especially when the couple passed the Osborne's persnickety co-op board. The seller, who uses a wheelchair, is moving to a newer building that's more accommodating.
CHRISTOPHER BONANOS

She's Still Here . . . Damn It!
Cabaret mom Sandra Bernhard makes it in New York.

Sandra Bernhard is so grumpy anyway that just imagine what spending two years looking for a place in Manhattan did to her. "It was a general malaise," she says. "Lots of 'I can't believe someone's asking a million-two for this: There's no light and it's dark and depressing.' " But she needed a place. "I got my original studio when I wasn't pregnant," she says, referring to her pillow-and-votive-candle-strewn rental in one of the Bing & Bing Art Deco buildings in the West Village. Two years ago, she gave birth to Cicely and rented what she thought would be a temporary nanny-and-baby annex on another floor. She also has a thirties bungalow in L.A., but "I prefer it here; most of my friends are here," she says. "My main impetus for staying in Manhattan is that I love Channel 35." But keeping connected to Robin Byrd proved difficult even for someone as fabulously abrasive as Bernhard. "I thought the market was going to come down, so I was going to wait it out." In any case, "it's not always the most pleasant experience dealing with real-estate brokers." Finally, an interior-designer friend introduced her to poodle-toting Halstead Property Company brokers Robin and Nancy Horowitz, sisters who work as a team. They showed her a 1,700-square-foot, two-bedroom loft in a four-year-old conversion in west Chelsea that used to be a refrigeration building. She paid about $1.2 million. "She had given up and was saying, 'I'm going to live in L.A. the rest of my life,' " says Robin Horowitz, who took her to this place first. "The line from her show is that her mortgage payment in L.A. is what she pays for a storage unit here."
CARL SWANSON

Realty Bites: East Ends
Buying the last farm.

Earlier this summer, the last stretch of prime Hamptons oceanfront farmland sold to a mysterious group some locals feared was backed by Ira Rennert, the billionaire who built a 100,000-square-foot monster chateau two years ago. Rennert's kosher Xanadu is right next door to the 60-acre farm, on Daniels Lane in Sagaponack, so it wouldn't have been a surprise. The seller was money manager Joseph DiMenna, who bought the land in 1996 for $15 million. (Part of it once belonged to CBS founder William Paley.) He got married on it in 1997, then put it up for sale for $25 million (a local vandalized the for-sale sign with the words land whore) and bought a place in Southampton. Now he's sold the part farthest away from Rennert to Brenda Earl, the backup portfolio manager at DiMenna's $5 billion Zweig/DiMenna fund, for $6.6 million. The rest went to Sagaponack Ventures, the mystery group, for $14.4 million. (A source close to DiMenna says he couldn't get anyone to pony up the full $25 million in cash.) Real-estate sources say Sagaponack Ventures is actually a group of investors who plan to divide the land into three $15 million lots. Jeffrey Collé, contractor to Billy Joel and Donna Karan, seems to be their point man (he denies it). "It's really the last of the oceanfront," says one broker. Even if it is in Rennert's shadow.
C.S. WITH STEVEN GAINES


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