Monday, December 28, 2009

The Widda Safra's Real Estate Madness

Listen chickens, today is a travel day for Your Mama so we just don't have too much time to blather on like we usually do so in an effort not to leave y'all completely high and dry real estate wise we're going to drop a tidbit about some recent real estate activity at New York City's high-fallutin' 820 Fifth Avenue, without question one of Manhattan's most exclusive and coveted co-operative apartment houses and also one of the most difficult to get into.

International socialite Lily Safra, the widow of deceased Lebonese billionaire Edmond Safra who perished in a nasty conflagration that swept through the couple's penthouse in Monaco back in 1999, has long occupied the top floor of the ridiculously high-nosed 820 Fifth Avenue. She also, according to several of our better connected New York City sources, owns the smaller of the two maisonette units at 820. Your Mama doesn't know what she uses that apartment for so don't nobody bother asking. If we knew, we'd certainly tell you.

Anyhoo, the long elevator ride to the 12 floor must have gotten a bit annoying for the Widda Safra–or something–because on the 16th of December, according to the peeps at Property Shark, the kohl eyed and wildy rich woman snatched up the 4th floor of 820 Fifth Avenue for a toe curling $33,000,000 and, in turn, sold her 12th floor sprawler to hedge fund honcho Ken Griffin for an even more hair raising $40,000,000. Billionaires clearly weather recessions far differently than Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter do.

This is not–it might flabbergast the children to know–the first time the Widda Safra has owned the 4th floor of 820 Fifth Avenue. In the early naughts, the Widda Safra reportedly paid khaki pants king Tommy Hilfiger somewhere in the neighborhood of $18,000,000 for the full floor unit. As the story goes–and Your Mama has no idea if the story is really true–the Widda Safra purchased the palatial apartment for one of her two daughters who quickly had a real estate change of mind and decided she didn't want to live downstairs from mumsey after all. The apartment was flipped back on the market and eventually sold in 2003 for around $23,500,000, a tidy profit by any standard. The buyers: home builder Ara Hovnanian and his ar-teest wifey Rachel.

The Hovnanians had the 4th floor unit all did up and done over by dee-voon Dutch architect Piet Boon who worked over the 18-room beast into a minimalist vision in white, black and blue with elaborate and intricate moldings painted the same glaring white as the winter white walls, all the better to display their impressive collection of Hirsts and Matisses. Back in the early spring of 2008, the Hovnanians floated their very contemporary apartment on the market as a quiet listing–meaning it wasn't officially for sale, but for those with the right connections and the right number dollars in their bank accounts was indeed for sale–with an asking price widely reported to be a blistering $36,000,000.

The Hovnanians were, natch, no fools when the Widda Safra–the very same ladee who sold them their apartment–made it known she'd be willing to pay $33,000,000 to buy the apartment...again. They wisely saw a gift horse knocking on their finely feathered nest who not only has pockets deep enough to pay thirty-some million for the apartment, but also a gift horse with the necessary clout–not to mention a couple of current addys at 820 already–to pass muster with the notoriously stringent co-op board.

Your Mama hasn't any idea if Miz Safra plans on keeping all the gallery white walls and ultra-modern bathroom fixtures, but iffin she were to ask Your Mama, which of course she will not, we'd tell her she'd be a loon to trade out anything installed by the magnificent Mister Boon.

The Widda Safra is, all the children well know by now, currently entangled in an ugly legal imbroglio with Russian oligarch Mikail Prokhorov over the fifty-five million (or so) clams the billionaire gave the billionairess as a deposit on the purchase of her legendary estate La Leopolda in the South of France. In short, he backed out of the deal and wants his deposit back and she claims he's not entitled to its return according to French law. Their attorneys are duking it out in court and a ruling of the mess is expected in March of 2010.

photo: Property Shark


christopher said...

thetwo maisonette are where miss lily's daughters live.

StPaulSnowman said...

Safrology is more fascinating with every post. I particularly like her, "let Prokhorov eat cake" posturing and wickedly clever use of French law to do her bidding. In this day of vulgar Trump L'Oys and monied Madonna types, this woman has an attractive and refreshing evil mystique about her. Like an episode of "24", this story leaves me anxious for the next episode.

commentator said...

i simply do not get why you would want to move from the 12th floor to the 4th floor??? the only thing i could see is moving to the 7th just to get the french doors and mini-terrace.

lowering your view perspective and getting closer to street noise doesn't appeal to me, and we know Safra doesn't need that $7 million she cleared on the "down-leg".

Anonymous said...

"a nasty conflagration"
oh, Mama, how we have missed you!

Village said...

Wouldn't the fourth floor have to come into contact with the maisonette at some point?

Happi said...

Not that strange really that she wants to move on down to the 4th floor. After all her husband died in that penthouse fire. Must feel better to live within the reach of a firemans ladder.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

The fourth floor, if I am not mistaken, was once site of one of NYC's premier literary salons, presided over by Josephine Boardman Crane (stationery money, not plumbing). She lived there for decades, and the apartment, in Mrs Crane's day, was gracious and filled with fantastic 18th- and 19th-century art, Venetian antiques, et cetera, glamorous but old-fashioned.

Paula Merton said...

That is an insane amount of money to spend on a place to live. If I had that amount of money I think I would get somewhere in the bahamas.

Anonymous said...

tis the season to be greedy.

Anonymous said...

Dear Aesthete's Lament, you are correct. Mamma's 12 May 2009 post on 820 Fifth Avenue learned us children that:
"FOURTH FLOOR: The fourth floor is one of only a couple of units at 820 that have changed hands multiple times in the last 10 or 20 years. For many years, the 18-room sprawler was owned by poet, philanthropist, rumored lezbeeuhn, and paper heiress Louise Crane whose family concern, Crane & Co., manufactures high-grade stationary and has provided the paper on which U.S. currency has been printed for nearly 150 years. Miz Crane was about as old as money gets in this young country."

Anonymous said...

Living on the 4th floor is a lot better then the 20th in particular buildings - think about it.

stolidog said...

We all know she had her husband murdered, right?

Village said...

I don't think she had her husband murdered. A nurse confessed to starting a small fire in a trash can to be a hero when he put it out, but it got out of control.

I read the widow stalled the firemen in their attempt to rescue her husband by failing to provide the key necessary to reach the apartment.

I live on the 4th floor of a high rise. I gave up airplane views for tree tops, and the visage of Victorians with their gas street lamps. I directly over look a Catholic church, and the bells remind me of Paris. My bedroom view is directly into trees with no man made objects in sight. To each their own.

Anonymous said...

It was reported that the Safra's head of security appeared immediately with a key to open the bathroom, however, the Monaco police elected to JAIL him instead of listen to him, hence the delay.
Very stupid on the part of the Police. Nothing to do with Mrs. Safra.