Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Wee Peep at 770 Park Avenue

Sorry folks, we're just not feeling much in the mood to chit-chat about the real estate comings and goings of Tinseltown types today. We'd rather piggy-back on the fascinating recent report by Chloe Malle in the pink pages of the New York Observer about the pending fate of democratic fund raising power player Hassan Nemazee's vast doo-plex pad up in the exclusive 770 Park Avenue building in New York City.

The elite co-operative buildings in Manhattan each have their own vibe and reputation as regards to the sorts of financial heavy hitters who have what it takes to squeeze past the persnickety co-op boards who wield the power to nix a potential buyer of an apartment for any reason whatsoever. They don't even have to explain themselves. They can just say, "nay" and that's the end of that. Potential buyers in the top tier co-operative apartment houses could get sent packing for any reason such as they can't meet the financial requirements, they may not fraternize with the right people or they might be too high profile, the wrong religion or color, have attended the wrong university or they just might make the grievous mistake of wearing the wrong color of shoe to the interview.

Anyhoo, 770 Park Avenue is known around town by the people who care about such things as a bastion of exceedingly wealthy and generous left-leaning donors to democratic candidates. Until recently Mister Nemazee epitomized the sort of democratic fat cat who lived in the pre-war dowager designed and built in 1929 by Rosario Candela, one of the legendary architects of some of the swankiest of the swank co-operative apartment houses in the NYC. This building was so swish when it was erected that the lobbies and hallways were done up by influential high-society decorator Dorothy Draper.

In 2008 Mister Nemazee acted as the finance chairman for Hillary Rodham Clinton during her unsuccessful bid for the democratic presidential nomination and in July of 2010 he was sent to the pokey for 12 years on convictions related to the operation of a colossal Ponzi scheme that collected a knee buckling $292,000,000 in fraudulent loans from major lending institutions such as HSBC, Citibank and Bank of America.

According to an early August (2010) report in the New York Post, the feds want to evict Mister Namazee and his wife Sheila from their big-ol' doo-plex at 770 due to unpaid monthly maintenance charges and quarterly mortgage bills. Apparently, according to the Post, Mister and Missus Nemazee's stopped paying their ten grand (or so) a month maintenance at 770 almost as soon as Mister Nemazee got caught with his hand in the cookie jar in the summer of 2009. An unnamed source told the Post that the Nemazees were more than a year behind on their fees but that the building's board wasn't getting their panties in a bunch about it because "they feel sorry for Ms. Nemazee." Oh lowerd, pleeze. Do they really?

While Mister Nemazee was shipped off to the white collar clinkety-clink in Texarkana, TX, Ms. Nemazee remained ensconced in the couple's desirably high floor A-line apartment at 770. The thing is, as part of the plea deal made with Mister Nemazee, the feds plan to sell the large and luxe residence to help pay back some of the hundreds of millions Mister Nemazee stole.

Missus Nemazee, however, does not want to move. She likes living large up in 770 and she hoped to stay in residence. In an attempt to stake her personal claim to the apartment she alleged that it was she and not her felonious husband who came up with the bulk of the cash used to buy the lavish apartment in 1989. Missus Nemazee requested a trial to appoint her as the legal and sole owner of the apartment in the hope that it would then not have to be sold to pay back the massive debt owed due to her huzband's nefarious financial activities.

Iffin Your Mama is being honest, and we always are, we'd admit that we don't know if Missus Nemezee's real estate concerns about the doo-plex at 770 were brought before a court. What is clear, as expressed in Miss Malle's report last week, is that all the uptown brokers are abuzz because it looks like the Nemazee spread will soon be put on the market.

Many of the uptown brokers, according to Miss Malle's report, are foaming at the mouth and hope they are the chose one to list such a rare real estate gem as the Nemazee spread at 770. All of the brokers quoted in Miss Malle's report oohed and aahed over the both the building–Brown Harris Stevens' John Burger called it "one of the best Park Avenue buildings"–and the apartment. One broker who went nameless suggested the apartment could and should be listed as high as $28,000,000 and big time broker Kathy Steinberg, also from Brown Harris Stevens, concurred saying, "I think that's totally, totally fair. It could even go over $30 million, though it's unlikely."

Now, babies, who are we to cast aspersions at the hyperbole of the some of New York City's most successful and well connected real estate brokers, many of whom live in the very same luxurious and expensive buildings where they sell high priced pads. We really ought to defer to their expertise. After all, we've never even stepped foot in 770 Park Avenue let alone had a look see at the Nemazee's corner doo-plex. However, maybe because it's been raining non-stop for a week on the west coast and we're feeling a bit claustrophobic and crabby, were going to go all bitchy and huffy-puffy and say that a $28,000,000 price tag might be a wee bit optimistic for the Nemazee nest at 770 when you consider that no recorded sale in the building in the last six or seven years has come anywhere near that sky-high price. Granted, A-line corner apartments like the Nemazee crib may very well be far more grand than the colossal D-line doo-plex units like the high-floor hunny that transferred in late 2007 for $20,000,000. (More on that in a second.) However, for eight or ten million clams more than a D-line the Nemazee's corner A-line would have to be a lot better, Taj Majhal better, you know what we mean? Otherwise Your Mama just might stick to the beautifully laid out 11-room and 4 fireplace B-line doo-plex on the 4th and 5th floors currently listed at $17,900,000.

In June of 2008, before the real estate market really drove itself off the cliff, a quirky but spectacular penthouse doo-plex with no fewer than five terraces sold for $12,000,000. The apartment was originally listed in October of 2007 with an asking price of $19,500,000. Just a few weeks later the priced dropped dramatically 10% to $17,500,000 and the very next day the price plummeted another 26% to $12,995,000.

The 8-room residence (pictured above as it was done up by the seller) has just 2 bedrooms and 3 poopers plus a staff room with private facilities tucked back behind the kitchen. A separate, cell-sized room on the buildings third floor has a closet but no terliting or bathing facilities. This is a sure way to get your live-in staff to hate your rich guts: Make them stay in a punishingly wee room 16 floors from a damn terlit.
Floor plan information (above) reveals a private elevator landing, entry vestibule and entime foyer. A long, canal-like hall stretches off the foyer, leads past a winding staircase and a wet bar and births one into the living room complete with wood burning fireplace and access through French doors to three–count 'em kids, three–separate terraces. A small fourth terrace is located off the surprisingly tiny formal dining room located between the entry foyer and the gore-may kitchen.

The two bedrooms are well situated for privacy, far from each other as well as removed from the public areas of the penthouse. Upstairs a crow's nest-ish bedroom has windows on three sides a a private pooper that, sadly, can only be accessed via the public upper hall. Of course, there's little "public" on the second floor but, even still, it could get awkward for Bill Barebottomedhouseguest to come strolling out the pooper buck nekkid only to run into Florinda the day maid digging around in the large walk-in hall closet looking for the damn Swiffer. The main floor master suite, situated off the entry foyer in the rear of the apartment, consists of an entry hall, small book-lined library, dressing hall with mirrored doors, dual baths each with a window, and a commodious 400 square foot bedroom with a second wood burning fireplace.

The seller, according to the peeps at Property Shark was a ladee named Margaret Love Stevens the buyer, according to our unscientific research on the interweb, was Texas construction tycoon James Sowell and his wife Elizabeth. We don't really know how involved Mister and/or Missus Sowell are in the political arean, but public records do show that since 2004 Miz Stevens donated more than twenty grand to Democratic candidates while Mister Sowell donated just four thousand dollars to Republican candidates. Make of that what you will, children.

One of the few Republicans in the thick Democratic mist at 770 Park Ave is hedge hog Robert Niehaus and his wife Kate. In October of 2007 the well-heeled pair shelled out $20,000,000 to purchase the 5,000-ish square foot, 4 bedroom and 5.5 pooper doo-plex digs of big biznesswoman and "Democratic fund raising powerhouse" Connie Milstein.

Miz Milstein–an heiress to the Milstein real estate fortune–gained some notoriety during the 2000 presidential election when she was caught red handed–as in on camera–bribing homeless people with cigarettes as absurd incentive to get them to vote. She was fined $5,000 for her astonishingly ludicrous effort to get out the vote. Speechless. Your Mama is truly speechless and need to take a few minutes away in a dark and quiet room in order to try to get our mind around that snap from reality.

Whatever the fall out from the cigarette incident, it certainly didn't make Miz Milstein a real estate hot potato. See kids, she decamped the very exclusive 770 Park Avenue for the even more uppity 998 Fifth Avenue, where owners of grand apartments include a Russian oligarch (Len Blavatnik), an heir to a famous liquor fortune (Matthew Bronfman), and a corporate raider (Mark Rachesky).

A few months before Miz Milstein fled the scene at 770, in April of 2007, female Republican mover and shaker K.T. Mcfarland sold her gigantic B-line duplex for $17,500,000 to Kentucky booze heir W.L. Lyons Brown Junior, the former Bush-appointed ambassador to Austria and a recently appointed honorary trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Junior comes from the Kentucky Browns, purveyors of fine booze brands such as Jack Daniel's, Southern Comfort and Finlandia Vodkas who still run the Brown-Forman Corporation that they founded in 1870.

In an article from the New York Observer from the time of the sale–May 2007– shows the 13-room doo-plex apartment contained 4 bedrooms with private poopers, a curving staircase with neoclassical banister, a 30 foot long formal living room and, in addition to a staff room and bath behind the kitchen complex, another staff room located three floors below. Interior details included herringbone hardwood floors, high ceilings with impressively substantial dentil and acanthus moldings and windows that reach almost down to the floor with Juliet balconies in the living and dining rooms. Monthly maintenance charges ran $9,177, or that is what it was at the time of the sale.

Like Miz Milstein, Miz Mcfarland is a real damn politico. She was a national security adviser to Henry Kissinger, a speech writer for politician Caspar Weinberger, and held the long-winded title of deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs at the Pentagon in the mid-1980s under President Ronald Reagan. Miz Mcfarland cemented her place in the pantheon of political pundit candy during the 2006 Senate campaign when she ran as a Republican against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Poor Miz Mcfarland, according to reports, had to admit that she didn't vote in recent elections she also said she thought Hilary Clinton was spying on her via helicopters hovering over her Park Avenue building which also served as her campaign headquarters much, Your Mama imagines, to the delight of her far more liberal neighbors. Miz Mcfarland later said she was joking about the helicopter thing.

You can't make this stuff up, kids. The rich movers and shakers who pull the levers of big bizness and politics are amazing. It's like watching Vaudville.

In addition to all the big girl apartments that have been bought and sold in the last 5 or six years, there have been several lower priced sales at 770 including a ground commercial unit that went for $2,200,000 in July of 2005 and a two bedroom and 2 pooper place on the second floor that sold for $3,600,000 in October of 2007. The most recent sale at 770 was in January of 2010 when the high floor 2 bedroom and 3 pooper pad of a ladee named Eleanor Winthrow was sold to a couple who may or may not have something to do with the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. The apartment, which has a very narrow 45-foot long terrace that runs along the living and dining rooms, was sold for $5,000,000. It had originally been listed, the children may wish to note, with a much higher price tag of $10,950,000.

Some of the other high profile people that occupy the discreet building include Vornado Realty Trust chairman (and billionaire) Steve Roth and his Broadway producer wife Daryl Roth who bought the late Gianni Agnelli's spread in 2003. Your Mama does not know what they paid for the place, so don't even ask. What we do know is that Agnelli's pied a terre was listed at $25,000,000. Some of the children may recognize Mister and Missus Roth as the very same folks who in 2009 forked over $9,410,000 to buy imprisoned Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff's ocean front house in Montauk, NY. The Roths, it should be no surprise to now, have given nearly one hundred thousand clams to democratic causes and candidates.

Also in residence at 770 according to property records and previous reports on the building are airport transportation expert, MTA board member, and donator to democrats Doreen Frasca, powerful co-CEO of New Line Cinema Michael Lynne who also donates to democrats, and socialite art patron Sylvia de Cuevas. David and Lisa Schiff, the well-connected parents of son Drew who married Al Gore's daughter Karenna also live up in 770 and, natch, lean heavy to the left with their pocketbooks.

With Republicans being some of the newest residents at 770, could it be that the building is seeing a shift to the red? Would a right winger buying the Nemazee apartment not only be a sweet kind of real estate revenge on the democrats but a further following of the political leanings of its residents? We shall see, puppies, we shall see when the Nemazee's apartment sells to the highest bidder, or at least the highest bidder who can pass muster with the board.

photos and floor plan: Stribling


Anonymous said...

can any one tell me what an "A" line, apartment is ?

Anonymous said...

A column of apartments with identical layouts is a "line". It's common for the A line being the largest/most expensive in a building, with smaller/lower status apartments further along the alphabet.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that she really thought Hillary was spying on her and she may well have been right, since Wikileaks tells us Hillary has given instructions to American reps in the UN to spy on all and sundry. But I am sure she decided to say it was a joke when she found the truth was not going over very well.

Lilithcat said...

@ anonymous 4:24 -

It describes the location of the apartment within the building. When an apartment building is first constructed, before people with more money than god buy and combine multiple units, apartments that are above/below each other are usually identical, but may be different from others on the floor. So unit 2A will have the same layout as 3A, 4A, etc. ("A" line apartments), but may differ from 2B, 2C (the "B" line apartments).

Domestica DeLaCruz said...

I think that floors in buildings like these that have slave rooms seperate from the master's apartments also have some shared terlits on the same floors as well. But I'm a day slave so I get to take the train to the Bronx home every night.

Arundel said...

Fantastic lore again, Mama. I never get tired of hearing of the NYC rich. Because they are so up against people richer than them, status anxiety and oddness always comes through, making for great gossip.

Oh, that KT Macfarland woman. Out in the Hamptons, she used to do a weekly op-ed thing on the public radio station. Excruciating, snide, parroting the GOP's latest doozies, she sent me lunging for the dial, so awful. Guess she lost that gig, but I had no idea of her real estate past. Ugh, she's terrible.

Anonymous said...

All I have to add is that the Candela buildings have been recently tarnished by many bounders with more money than integrity. Sorry this lot has infested many of his higher profile buildings on Park. The key is to live in one of his other buildings where you don't have to encounter such riff-raff on a daily basis. Having those folks around is like having an incurable case of terminal termites. I'm very happy out of the limelight.

Anonymous said...

The Nemazzee place is a dump and needs a total renovation. The bathrooms and kitchen are skanky, but it may come with their indentured servants, how much is Chinese slave labor these days?

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog. Well do I have news for all of you. The apartment that Nemazze "owns" was bought with money stolen by Mr. Nemazze from his cousins in 1988 and he bought the apartment not her. I know this because I saw the whole thing go down.


Anonymous said...

I have been to 770 Park. I know someone that lives there, but they bought their apartment a long time ago, and wouldn't be able to move in again at current prices.