Thursday, December 30, 2010

Floor Plan Porn for the New Year: 834 Fifth Avenue

Among the dozen or so white glove co-operative apartment houses that rank among New York City's most expensive and hardest to gain access to, staid, stodgy and solid as a rock 834 Fifth Avenue is the cream of the real estate crop.

The somber and pedigreed pre-war dowager at 834 Fifth Avenue was designed by the much lauded and applauded architect Rosario Candela and erected in 1931 on the corner of East 64th Street directly across the street from the entrance to the Central Park Zoo. The understated and architecturally confident 16 story limestone clad building has a three story rusticated base, a garden courtyard, and just 24 sumptuous and spacious apartments–many of them doo-plexes–serviced by round the clock doormen, concierge and elevator operators.

The imposing building, occupied over the years by some of the hoitiest of New York's toitiest, is on par with other hideously expensive and oddly clannish apartment houses such as 4 E. 66th Street where young hedge hog Chase Coleman paid $36,500,000 to buy the former full floor residence of financially embattled super-socialite Veronica Hearst in July of 2008 and 998 Fifth Avenue where booze heir Matthew Bronfman paid $18,000,000 for former home of the dee-voon Anne Slater in late 2007 and where property mad oil and copper billionaire Len Blavatnik paid $27,500,000 for a fourth floor spread in January of 2007.

As with many of the priciest and aristocratic co-operative buildings in Manhattan, turnover at 834 Fifth Avenue tends towards painfully slow. Since 2005, there have been just three apartments on the open market and a total of six (recorded) sales. 834 Fifth Avenue, sugar beets, is not for the financially feint of heart or–since the building allows no financing of purchases–the cash strapped. If Your Mama busts out our bejeweled abacus and flicks the well worn beads around a bit we discover that the amount of money that changed hands at 834 in the last 5 or 6 years totals a bone shattering $161,644,500 with an average sale price of $26,940,000.

There were two (off-market) sales at 834 Fifth Avenue in 2010 and a third apartment–a high floor doo-plex apartment owned by 21-time Tony Award winning Broadway producer Harold Prince and his wife Judy–remains up for sale where it has lingered and languished since it was first heaved on to the (open) market in September of 2009 with an knee buckling and bank account busting asking price of $33,000,000.

By November of 2010 three chops had brought the asking price of Mister and Missus Prince's two-floor residence down to $24,900,000. Shortly thereafter the apartment was de-listed and ten days later, in late December of 2010, the 11-room doo-plex was re-listed with a new listing agent at the old $24,900,000 asking price.
Listing information and the floor plan (above) show the 11-room apartment, formerly owned by make-up maven Elizabeth Arden, measures (approximately) 4,750 square feet and includes 3 bedrooms and 3.5 poopers plus multi-level staff quarters that contain another two bedrooms and two poopers.

Some of the children may need a nerve pill to quell the shock and awe when they learn that no financing is allowed for purchased at 834 Fifth Avenue and the monthly maintenance for Mister and Missus Prince's fit-for-a-prince pad runs $16,442 per month. A few quick flicks of the beads on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus shows that's a mood altering $197,304 per year.

Floor plan information included with listing shows the stately but not uncomfortably or ostentatiously vast high floor apartment has a much-desired-by-the-rich-and-famous private elevator vestibule. A less than optimal and paltry pair of rooms (plus a terrace) directly face Fifth Avenue and Central Park. On the lower floor the park facing room is a long and narrow solarium that opens to the west facing terrace and upstairs it's the corner master bedroom. The master pooper, it should be noted, also has a spectacular vista of the park from the terlit.

The bulk of the apartment runs down East 64th Street and at least a few of the rooms, we imagine, have oblique park views. The state of the art kitchen complex includes a big butler's pantry, a second, walk-in sized pantry and a small terrace for smoking a pre- and/or post-meal preparation doobie. Behind the kitchen and just off the service entry, staff quarters spread over three floors include one decent sized bedroom with a windowed private pooper on the lowest floor, a mezzanine level mechanical space, and on the second floor a second cell-sized bedroom, large laundry room and another pooper, also a window.

The second floor can be accessed either via the narrow back stair in the domestic staff area or by ascending the dramatic curving staircase in the entry. A powder pooper tucked discreetly under the stairs has not just one but two windows. Do the children see why this Mister Candela guy is the bees knees when it comes to thoughtful and elegant apartments?

The master bedroom sits immediately off the upper landing and has over sized windows that reach almost to the floor, a wall of closets plus a walk-in dressing room and the aforementioned park view private pooper. Each of the two secondary bedrooms, both situated down a long hall and well away from the master bedroom, has at least one walk-in closet and private terliting facilities.

Listing information indicates the sale includes three separate storage rooms.
In January of 2009, the heirs and attorneys (or whomever) for Missus Araxia M. Buckhantz–a cousin of eccentric Armenian born petroleum potentate Nubar Gulbenkian–listed her 13 room spread with an asking price of $30,000,000. The palatial simplex unit, according to listing information from that time, shows the apartment has 12-foot ceilings, three terraces, 4 fireplaces, a library paneled in 18th century George II pine and a 37-foot long living room with George III paneling.

The apartment was listed on the (open) market for less than one month before it was put into contract and in mid-March the sale was recorded for $29,000,000. Property records show the buyer was Loews movie theater heiress Laurie Tisch. Miz Tisch made recent real estate news in early December of 2010 when it was reported here, there and everywhere that celebrity house hunters Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick were interested in purchasing her clumsily laid out 8-bedroom doo-plex apartment at 88 Central Park West. The reports were denied. Make of that what you will.

The children will take note of several special tidbits about the Buckhantz/Tisch spread. First of all, observe that there are only two bedrooms in this $29,000,000 apartment and that both bedrooms face east to take advantage of the morning sun. This arrangement leaves more than 100-feet of park view frontage used to best advantage for the living room, solarium, library and formal dining room all of which have access to one of the apartment's two enviable terraces.

A bedroom sized pantry separates the dining room from the kitchen. Note, bunnies, that in addition to the bedroom-sized pantry that joins the formal dining room to the kitchen, Mister Candela also provided a convenient connection from the kitchen to the entrance gallery by way of a closet lined hallway. Behind the kitchen three unforgivably small staff rooms share one pooper and surround a "servant's hall" where, apparently, the domestics are supposed to eat dinner and watch tee-vee when they're not dusting knick-knacks and scrubbing terlits.

Two more items of significance that earn Mister Candela a standing ovation: Firstly, the floor plan master managed to locate every terliting and bathing facility in the apartment where they could have a window for ventilation. Even the staff crapper has a window and the powder pooper off the entrance gallery even has a multi-million dollar view of Central Park. Secondly, live in domestics around the world will appreciate that Mister Candela provided direct access to the servant's hall from the service elevator. This astute arrangement allows the maids and man servants to sneak out and sneak paramours into their private quarters for a little slap and tickle without the master(s) of the house being any the wiser.

One of the more recent transfers at 834 Fifth Avenue was in April of 2009 when Cuban born billionaire and Bill Clinton crony Paul Cejas and his wife Gertie put their fifth floor apartment on the (open) market with an asking price of $18,500,000. By September (2009) the asking price has sunk to $16,500,000 and in May of 2010 the rambling, 10-room apartment sold for $15,000,000 to a Swiss tycoon by the name of Maurice Amon whose fortune derives in great part from the sale of the ink used to print much of the world's bank notes.
Listing and floor plan information (above) shows the 10-room residence has a cute little octagonal foyer, an old-fashioned cloak room, living room sized entrance gallery and monthly maintenance charges of $10,335. The 28-foot long park facing formal living room has 11 and some foot ceilings, intricate dentil moldings and a wood burning marble fireplace. The adjacent mahogany paneled library has built-in bookshelves, a walk-in closet and a pooper with a park view. Original plans for this apartment available on the Avery Architectural Fine Arts Library show the current library was originally planned as the master bedroom which explains, perhaps, why current floor plan information shows a bee-day in large bathroom off the library.

The bedroom wing has a wide corridor lined with walk-in closets and each of the two east-facing bedrooms has a private pooper. A long butler's pantry with built-in breakfast banquette connects the public rooms to the kitchen–which is, we regret to inform, also the laundry room–and the three-room staff suite and pooper at the extreme rear of the property.

Other recent recorded sales in the building include several apartments that appear to have traded without ever appearing on the open market. In April of 2010, San Francisco based Levi Strauss heiress Miriam Haas laid out $12,500,000 to buy a petite penthouse apartment on the 15th floor from San Francisco based financial services bigwig Charles Schwab and his wife Helen.

In the spring of 2007 the trustees of the estate of long time resident Jeanette Solomon put her 8-room spread on the 9th floor of 834 Fifth Avenue on the market with an asking price of $16,500,000. A bidding war drove up the sale price to a staggering $27,700,000. The new owners: Charles and Helen Schwab.

Loida Lewis–the high-powered Filipino widda of African American billionaire bizness baron Reginald Lewis–hoisted her gigantic doo-plex apartment at 834 Fifth Avenue on the market in 2006 with an asking price of $45,000,000, a dumbfounding number later reduced to a still stunning $39,500,000. According to previous reports, the apartment has a 640-square foot living room that overlooks Central Park (as does the master bedroom), 7.5 poopers, 4 wood burning fireplaces and a "restaurant kitchen." Mister and Missus Lewis, it should be noted, were the first “people of color to own an apartment in a ‘Good Building’ on Fifth Avenue,” according to the writer Steven Gaines, author of real estate must reads The Sky's the Limit and Philistines at the Hedgerow.

Mister and Missus Lewis purchased their palatial pad at 834 Fifth Avenue in 1992 from automotive executive John Delorean who had acquired the apartment from Gregg Dodge Moran, a showgirl turned socialite who married into the Detroit Dodges and who reportedly paid just $225,000 for the apartment. Missus Dodge Moran, it may amuse the children to know, briefly owned the 23,000 square foot Dunnellen Hall in Greenwich, CT, the one-time estate of the Queen of Mean Leona Helmsley that was sold in 2010 for $35,000,000 to an unknown buyer.

Anyhoo, Missus Lewis unloaded her big ol' doo-plex at 834 in October of 2007. According to property records and previous reports, cell phone service honcho Mark Rachesky (Leap Wireless) and his wife Jill paid a milk curdling $33,444,500 for the apartment.

The biggest deal to ever go down at 834–and still one of the highest prices ever paid for a cooperative apartment in Manhattan–was in May of 2005 went media magnate Rupert Murdoch and his wife Wendi Deng shelled out an astonishing $44,000,000 for Laurance Rockefeller's 20-room triplex penthouse that reportedly has monthly maintenance charges of around $25,000 per month.

Other residents with recognizable names at 834 Fifth Avenue include (but are not limited to) a couple of heirs of the Johnson & Johnson fortune (that would be Christopher and his brother Robert "Woody" Johnson who live next door to each other), philanthropist, haute couture queen and high society doyenne
Carroll McDaniel Portago Carey-Hughes Pistell Petrie who once lived on the 5th floor and now lives in Pauline Pitt designed digs on the 10th floor, Eugenie and John Radziwell (he's the son of Jackie Kennedy's sister Lee's onetime huzband Prince Stanislas Radziwell), mergers and acquisitions specialist Joe Roby and wifey Hilppa who bought their 15-room spread in 1997 for $12,000,000, famously fat living former "King of Wall Street" John Gutfreund and his very social wife Susan whose live primarily in a plush Parisian apartment they put up for sale in 2010 but still maintain an opulent Henri Samuel designed 16-room apartment at 834 Fifth Avenue that measures in at a hefty hefty hefty 12,000 square feet.

Also in residence at 834, Greek shipping tycoon George and Lita Livanos who own a low floor doo-plex and who also once owned a maisonette in the building where they housed their children and staff, Bing Crosby's son Harry who lives in a maisonette unit formerly owned by Richard and Honey Berlin, the parents of portly Andy Warhol superstar Brigid Berlin, and Judith and Alfred Taubman, shopping mall magnate and former head of Sotheby's who did 7 months in the pokey in 2002-3 for a price-fixing scheme between Sotheby's and rival auction house Christie's and who reportedly have an apartment filled with Modiglianis, Renoirs and Monets. Until recently billionaire biznessman Leslie Wexner (The Limited brands) and his wife Abigail owned a 16-room six-bedroom doo-plex once owned by Rupert Murdoch (who, as mentioned above, traded up for the titanic triplex penthouse in 2007), but a report from early December of 2010 in the New York Observer reveals that the doo-plex–shopped off market for $60,000,000 then dropped to $34,000,000–has been purchased by an unknown buyer.

photo (top): Property Shark
floor plans: Redfin

19 comments:

WrteStufLA said...

The plan for the Buckhantz apartment includes a rather substantial staircase directly off the entrance gallery. Was this unit originally part of a duplex?

ChipSF said...

Thanks for these great floorplans! I was wondering about some of these stairways too.

A few years back (like 10 or 15) Architectural Digest had a spread on Carroll Petrie's apartment. The gallery was absolutely incredible. The rest of the place wasn't bad either.

Thanks & Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Granted I could NEVER even come close to being able to afford an apartment like these, but I still find it unbelievable anyone who could afford them would be willing to pay that much money for one--no matter how much money they have. I mean really, multi-millions of dollars for 2 or 3 bedrooms!!

The Devoted Classicist said...

The dining room of the Radziwill's near-palatial duplex is pictured in both the Parish-Hadley and Albert Hadley books.

GooChick said...

I find it amazing that the uber wealthy always seem to treat their staff as second-class citizens with minute quarters and separate service entrances. C'mon people, a horse and buggy no longer deliver your guests to the door!

Anonymous said...

No mention of 820 Fifth Avenue as one of the toitiest coop's in New York?

While 834 may have unique units, I still consider 820 to be the grand dame of coop's (as you've profiled before)

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering about the grand staircase in the simplex apt., too.

Hot Chocolate said...

Candela was the king! He understood proper pooper placement AND ventilation. He also realized the importance of those farting and smoking terraces. All hail!
Happy 2011 to you and all the children!

organbrett said...

Thanks Mama for this very complete discourse of 834. I always LOVE looking at your floorplans! I wonder if the children are aware of exactly how much research you have to do to complete one of these. Not just on the real estate but the people, history, architect, etc. I want you to know how much we appreciate you. Happy New Year! Thanks for all you do for us!

steve mawson said...

Pure porn, just leaves me shivering ! What a great way to start the new year. Luvs ya Mummy, 'n ta muchly.

Room Temperature said...

I'm looking for photos of Elizabeth Arden's apartment in the early years. Getty & Corbis have a few, but there may be other shots that appeared in 1930s magazines without Arden's name attached, which means those photos will never show up in any seach engine. I've been slowly working my way through all the major shelter magazines of the period, comparing views of high-style-but-nameless NYC apartments with Arden's floor plan, but so far, I haven't come up with any new images. However, I'm guessing that if there's any group of people that would be likely to know the whereabouts of such photos--if they exist at all--it would be this group. Suggestions, anyone?

BTW, Mama until they all burned up in a fire at my dad's place last spring, there was a whole closet full of big-name-designer clothes from the mid 1960s that my mother bought from Gregg Sherwood Dodge when she owned a dress shop in Beloit, Wisconsin. It was called the Clothes Horse, and the bags were pink paper as heavy as cardboard, with a big ink sketch of a willowy Centaurette. I think Moran was the most glamorous woman I had ever seen until then, but like I said, were living in Beloit.

This is such a great blog. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't you give proper credit to the New York Observer for plagiarizing their Paul Cejas sale writeup from June 2010?

luke220 said...

A family friend was a previous owner of the Amon apartment. I remember eating a meatloaf dinner in the dining room, with paper lanterns on the table. The view of the zoo from the bathroom impressed me most. The maid's rooms were empty and I don't think that the kitchen was used much. Seeing this floor plan brings back a lot of memories. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

More porn for 834...

http://nyre.cul.columbia.edu/projects/view/17201#images

Anonymous said...

Mama - you have outdone your self one more time. The chilren VERY much appreciate all the hard work. I agree - Ann Slater is DEE-VOON!! Much love Mama - keep up the great work!

Richard D said...

Anon 8:30, incredible resource! Million thanks.

olay emlak said...

I'm wondering about the grand staircase in the simplex apt., too.

Ulisses said...

For those wondering about the staircase, its just an error on the floor plan.The layout is not the original yes, but this apartment was always a simplex.The buildings top 3 floors always formed the triplex.So this has always been a simplex.I know this because i know the initial/firts owner of the triplex bought in 1931 for 275k.He was called Baker i think.And the square footage must be around 6k,maybe a tincy but more.

Marcus said...

Interior images of the Carol Petrie apartment can be seen in the documentary on haute couture on youtube..
@Ulises you're wrong,the 13 floor was duplexed with abouth a third of the 14th floor,there were 2 extra bedrooms there.The baker apartment was a triplex but it didnt encompass 3 entire floors,it was about 2 floors & 3/4.I think it became three full floors when the building became a coop,and Rockefeller took the three entire floors for himself.But it was a duplex for over 2 decades.Some of the apartments have been modified by candela when they extended the building,they took 1 or 2 rooms from the adjoining larger apartments in the original design(120 feet wide midblock structure) and gave them to the narrow 14 room stacked duplexed on the sidestreet.That is why some of the sidestreet units are 15-16 rooms....
Oh yes,and the famous Gutfreund unit,which supposedly is 12,000 sf is a little smaller.It is a standard 14 room A Line combined with a small midblock simplex of 10 rooms,and it also has 2 rooms from the 8th floor large simplex.The narrow duplex is about 5000 SF,the small simplex 4000 SF,and with the 2 extra rooms it might be 10,000 SF.But that would be the max...