The View From the Top

This view can be yours, for $70 million. Photo Credit: The Ritz-Carlton.

In 2003, British financier David Martinez set a record by spending $45 million for a 12,000-square-foot condo at the Related Companies’ Time Warner Center, thereby proving that really, really rich people really, really want massive spreads with park views and hotel services. But now three new listings have their brokers vying for Biggest Sale Ever (not to mention Biggest Commission Ever). In the past several weeks, a $70 million co-op at the Pierre, a $64 million condo at the Time Warner Center, and a $45.5 million triplex at the Ritz-Carlton have all hit the market. The Martinez sale, it appears, was not so much a stunt as a hint of things to come. “That sale,” says the developer’s president of sales, Susan de Franca, “demonstrated there’s a demand out there for a very large space.” She insists that the $64 million condo—two floors, about 17,000 square feet—is not a vanity listing. “We have serious interest from a purchaser.”

The grandest trophy of them all is the $70 million triplex penthouse of hedge-fund manager Martin Zweig. He bought the 11,000-square-foot co-op (nine bedrooms, four terraces) from publishing heiress Lady Mary Fairfax in 1999, for a then-record $21.5 million. She’d asked $35 million, prompting doubts this time that Zweig will get his price—particularly because the tough co-op board can be even more limiting than the expense. “It’s going to take a very special person to buy the Pierre apartment in particular, since the ballroom is only really good for a Christmas party,” says Laurance Kaiser IV of Key-Ventures Realty. Being the one who sold it will also confer privileges. “If a broker for me or another firm sold the priciest apartment, right away people would say, Maybe I should try that person!” says Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman. (When Corcoran’s Robby Browne closed the $42.5 million deal, his firm threw him a party.)

Besides delineating a new ultra-luxury market, the three properties also suggest that the Gold Coast (Central Park West and Park and Fifth avenues) is expanding. “Previously, Central Park South was a no-man’s-land,” says Kirk Henckels of Stribling Private Brokerage. “And now it is a very viable neighborhood.” However, the only record that’s sure to be set is for the highest asking price. “In some instances,” admits Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman, “the exorbitantly priced apartment is more about ego than reality.”

Harvey’s Latest Deal
He’s a downtown guy again: Miramax mogul Harvey Weinstein has found a new home since splitting with Eve Chilton, his wife of eighteen years and former assistant, last summer. (She’s hanging on to their Central Park West apartment.) According to an insider, Weinstein recently rented a three-bedroom apartment near Prince Street in a loft building where talk-show host Kelly Ripa also lives. He didn’t use a broker; his pal, who happens to be an Oscar-winning actress, had previously rented the apartment for $40,000 a month and presumably hooked up Harvey with the landlord. “But Harvey’s paying more,” says the insider. Weinstein declined to comment.

Uptown, fashion designer Zang Toi has purchased a 1,200-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment for $1.3 million. It’s in the seven-story house on East 75th Street that belonged to the Remington Steel typewriter heir in the late seventies. Toi, known for wearing kilts as well as dressing the Hearst girls and Ivana Trump, will be renovating and plans to move in next spring. For now, he’s shopping for French antiques—and designing his own upholstery fabrics.

Same Space, Different Place
If You Build It, They Won’t Care
Conventional wisdom says a slick renovation more than pays for itself when you sell. But consider these one-bedrooms in adjacent prewar buildings. They have almost identical floor plans; the renovated apartment is listed for $30,000 more. Sounds fine—but wait. Corcoran’s Frank Torre says his client skim-coated the walls; redid the bathroom, kitchen, and lighting; sanded the floor; and added crown moldings and baseboards to the tune of $30,000. That means, barring a bidding war, he’ll just break even. So should you skip the face-lift? Not necessarily—you just need to spend less on it. Still, says Paul Burton, the other broker, “most people in that price range would want to do their own work.”

328 East 73rd Street, 2nd floor
The Facts: 1-bedroom, 1-bath, 500-square-foot co-op.
Asking Price: $265,000.
Charges And Taxes: $583.
Broker: Frank Torre, Corcoran.

326 East 73rd Street, 1st floor
The Facts: 1-bedroom, 1-bath, 475-square-foot co-op.
Asking Price: $235,000.
Charges And Taxes: $544.
Broker: Paul Burton, Corcoran.

The View From the Top