Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Manhattan Real Estate Shuffle

Your Mama was positively riveted to Chloe Malle's Manhattan Transfers column in the January 25th, 2010 issue of the New York Observer that let the real estate cat out of the bag about Lucas and Julie Janklow (nee Daniels) unloading their Greenwich Village townhouse to a pair of prominent New Yorkers.

Some of the children may recall that Your Mama discussed the Janklows, their downtown townhouse and its rather recherché day-core back in June of 2009 when it was listed with an ear piercing and undeniably audacious asking price of $24,975,000. To summarize, the Janklows–he a sexy literary agent and she a musician turned owner of the hotsy-tosty West Village eatery Sweetiepie where the mac and cheese costs fifteen bucks and something called a Sweetiepig will snatch $75 our of your designer handbag–bought the 25-foot wide, 5-floor townhouse on a much desired block of West 12th Street in April 2004 for $4,500,000. They bought the house, the children my be pleased to know, from hotelier Andre Balazs and his now ex-wife Katie Ford who had bought it from Johnathan Newhouse of the Condé Nast Newhouses. The then happy couple, who are now headed for the court of dee-vorce, spent several if not many millions more transforming the space into their own, very personalized Barbie DreamHouse with 3 bedrooms and 5.5 poopers plus two punishingly small staff rooms that share a single pooper.

Some real estate watchers got on their high horses and and huffed and puffed about the obscenely high price and the somewhat challenging day-core vehemently declaring that the townhouse would sit, sit, sit until the the price was chop, chop, chopped. All the naysayers and bitter Bettys were right on at least one account: The price tag was subsequently sliced to $19,500,000 and by October of 2009 it had sank to $17,950,000.

Now then, buckle your safety belts because before Your Mama gets to the end of the Janklow's (former) townhouse story, we're going to do a six degrees of real estate separation sort of thing and circle back to the late 1990s and bring international socialite Lily Safra and mass market clothing retailer/designer Tommy Hilfiger into the picture.

In June of 1999, Mister Khaki Pants managed to curry favor and gain approval to purchase the 4th floor of the impeccable and notoriously restrictive co-operative apartment building at 820 Fifth Avenue from the estate of poet and philanthropist Louise Crane. Mister Hilfiger paid, reportedly, around 10,000,000 smackers for the dee-luxe full-floor digs but never moved and, shockingly, quickly flipped it back on the market. This is, quite frankly, just not done in the whitest of white glove Manhattan co-ops. After all the hoops and hoopla required to get into a proudly pedigreed building like 820 Fifth Avenue, flipping the place back on the market is strictly verboten and hoisting it back on to the market at an outrageous mark up as did Mister Hilfiger is even more scandalous. Well, it is if you care about such things. If you don't, it's just a silly disply of theatrical shenanigans that rich people go through to remind themselves that they breathe rarefied real estate air.

Anyhoo, sometime in the early 2000s, not long after Lily Safra's huzband Edmund and their posh penthouse apartment in Monaco went up in flames, the four times married and twice widowed doyenne of high society snatched up the full floor unit paying Mister Hilfiger around $18,000,000 for the long-unoccupied apartment. Not surprisingly, The Widda Safra didn't move in either. Presumably that's because she was happy as a clam in sand in the penthouse unit of 820 Fifth Avenue that she's owned for decades and, it was rumored (and reported), that she purchased the prodigiously pricey pad for one of her children who, after a multi-million dollar renovation probably paid for by Mummy, didn't move in either.

With none of her children opting to move in downstairs from mommy, The Widda Safra put the colossal and still unoccupied crib on the market. Given that The Widda Safra was already a resident of the clubby and high fallutin' building, it probably wasn't quite as sordid as when Mister Hilfiger did it. The apartment, which was originally designed with seven–yes, seven–staff rooms, eventually sold in 2003 for around $23,500,000 to home building honcho Ara Hovnanian and his artist wife Rachel.

Are the children keeping up because it's about to get interesting...

Even though The Widda Safra had just completed a re-do of the apartment, the Hovnanians spent beau coup bucks having dee-voon Dutch architect Piet Boon work the place over in a gleaming high concept Cheslea art gallery meets pre-war dowager sort of thing. Presumably the Hovnanians were, like The Widda Safra upstairs, happy as clams in sand wrapped in the contemporary luxury of their sprawling spread. That is at least until sometime in 2009 when they floated their pristine and nearly all-white apartment on the market with a rumored asking price of $36,000,000. In May of that year, it was reported by Max Abelson, who at the time penned the dee-lishus and mighty Manhattan Transfers column in the New York Observer, real estate developer Jeff T. Blau–the forty-something year old president of the Related Companies–was quietly discouraged from submitting an application to the board even after Mister Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself called influential 3rd floor resident Jayne Wrightsman to make a case for Mister and Missus Blau. But, alas. Miz Wrightsman...or someone...said, "Uh, no. Don't bother," or whatever it is that co-op board people say to those they consider undesirable and unworthy of setting up camp in their castle.

Sometime towards the end of 2009, much to the surprise of real estate gossips like Your Mama, penthouse princess Lily Safra made it known that she was willing to pay a teeth clenching $33,000,000 for the apartment that she had, the children will recall from above, previously owned but never occupied. Your Mama is flummoxed and driven to the brink of insanity when we consult our bejeweled abacus that reveald The Widda Safra's most recent purchase price is $9,500,000 more than she sold the place for just 5 years earlier and a near criminal $15,000,000 more than she paid for the apartment less than 10 years before. Lo-ward have mercy children, sometimes the wacky real estate ways of the unfathomably rich make Your Mama seize up with anxiety and reduce us to spending the rest of the day popping nerve pills chased by a stiff gin & tonic.

Now that The Widda Safra has (once again) taken ownership of the 4th floor at 820 Fifth Avenue for the second time in 10 years, the Hovnanians, natch, needed a new and swanky crib in which to live and–that's right kiddies–along comes Lucas and Julie Janklow's Greenwich Village townhouse. According property records (and Chloe Malle), the heavy hitting Hovnanians scooped up the Janklow townhouse in early January 2010 for $15,350,000. That's less than half the amount they sold their Fifth Avenue co-operative, a stunning–but not surprising–$9,625,000 less than the dueling Janklows originally wanted, and a stunning $10,850,000 more than the Janklows paid for the house just six years earlier.

This, chickens, is just one of the many ways the rich get richer. Buy high, sell higher.

Phew. We're off now to swallow a nerve pill and mix up our first of today's pitchers of gin & tonics. Your Mama suggests you do the same.


SID DELUCA said...

Sweet Jesus, Mama! Do you think you could send Svetlana over to clean up the parts of my brain that hit the ceiling after reading that stuff?

Maimou said...

It all sounds rahtha incestuous to me, m'dear. But not having been blessed with material riches, I cannot begin to fathom how this all makes any sense to those folks. Ah, well. I do thank you, Mama, for trying to make it clear for the children.

midTN said...

It's the way GOD would do it if HE had The Widda Safra's money.