Thursday, April 15, 2010

Robert Hurst's Duplex Digs Hit the Market with Much Fanfare

SELLER: Soledad and Robert "Bob" Hurst
PRICE: $29,000,000
SIZE: 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Even though it's a glorious and sunny morning here on the left coast, Your Mama is in a New York state of mind and thought it might be fun to peer in the windows of one of New York's top co-ops on Fifth Avenue where former Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs and former president and current Chairman of the Board of the Whitney Museum of American Art Robert Hurst and his wife Soledad recently hoisted their 12-room doo-plex digs onto the market with a sobering asking price of $29,000,000.

Having first been discussed on The Real Deal and subsequently on Curbed NY, Your Mama is well aware that we're a little late to the rodeo on this bit or real estate bidness. Unfortunately we had other fish to fry first. We also know–or at least expect–some of the children will get all pissy and hissy about how Mister Hurst isn't really a celebrity and blah blah blah. Certainly we realize Mister and Missus Hurst are not celebrities in the way that people like that Miley Cyrus gurl is, but in the high stakes world of high finance Mister Hurst is indeed a star. Besides, the man has reached a rare pinnacle of New York real estate, he owns a massive crib at 950 Fifth Avenue, a building deserving of discussion in its own right. Mister Hurst and his twenty-nine million dollar doo-plex is just the vehicle.

In case any of you people who stick to only to Star and Us Magazine care: In addition to his previous duties at the Whitney and his current and no doubt lucrative gig as a partner at some private equity place called Crestview Partners, Mister Hurst is a member of the Board of Overseers of the Wharton School (his alma mater), serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Jewish Museum, sits on the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Institute and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was also, according to his snapshot bio on the Aspen Institute's website, the founding CEO of the 9/11 United Services Group, the "coordinating arm" for numerous social services agencies, including the Red Cross, that sprung into action in the aftermath of the ugly bizness of the September 11th attacks. So he's bizzy in the way rich bidnessmen in New York are bizzy, settin' on boards here and there, workin' the charity circuits and counting his coin in the rarefied rooms of his dee-luxe doo-plex.

Since New York City co-operative buildings were not until recently required to file deeds and paperwork when apartments changed hands, it can sometimes be difficult to suss and sort out the dates of transfers and the amounts tendered, particularly in cream of the crop buildings where mortgages are often not even allowed. However, based on our rooting around on the interweb we are pretty damn sure that Mister Hurst snatched up his 13- into 12-room doo-plex on the 8th and 9th floors in 1997. A previous report suggests Mister Hurst forked out around $8,500,000 for the privilege of living his luxe life up in 950 Fifth Avenue.

Some Manhattan property watchers and purveyors label 950 Fifth Avenue as one of the "B" buildings on Fifth Avenue while other real estate fiends and freaks think it's totally "A" list. Your Mama does not know whether 950 is an "A" or "B" building but we do know that the super slim 14-story limestone edifice contains just 9 very large, hideously expensive and mostly doo-plex apartments meaning there just aren't very many cribs to go around for the folks who might want to shack up there.

The Italian-Renaissance-palazzo style building was designed by preeminent architect James E.R. Carpenter and erected in 1926. Although it has a Fifth Avenue address, the relatively modest main entrance is on East 76th Street beneath a spare almost spartan steel canopy. The building's lower floors retain much of Mister Carpenter's original architectural detailing and a recent restoration of the facade gave it a new luster. Even still, the insensitive enlargement of the windows that face Central Park on the upper floors robbed the building of some of its elegance gives the building a wonky and dizzying imbalance.

According to online sources and listing information, 950 Fifth Avenue's amenities include round the clock doormen, a concierge (this is the dude–and it's always a dude–who takes deliveries for residents among other things), basement storage areas and, natch, an elevator with an attendant. People with enough disposable cheddar to spend upwards of twenty million dollars for an apartment at 950 Fifth apparently can't be bothered to push a damn button by themselves, at least not when they can pay someone to stand there in a cramped elevator car all day long and do nuthin' but push buttons and make small talk with the residents. Because the building is so small and the amenities typical for a white glove type of building, the monthly maintenance charges are high enough to make Your Mama need a nerve pill. It's been reported that the monthly maintenance for the penthouse is around $13,000 and, according to listing information, Mister Hurst's double floor nest carries astonishing, sit down and take a breath monthly charges of $17,532.

It is rumored that bachelors–a designation often used for both unmarried men and homosexes–are often rejected at the better co-operative buildings, even if they are billionaires. One never knows who or what sort of cat that billionaire bachelor might drag home, marry and/or move into the building. In the past, the board at 950 Fifth has shown no fear of bachelors and the building was once–and perhaps still is–considered friendly to a single gentleman as long as his financials are in order.

Let's have a look at Mister and Missus Hurst's two-floor spread at 950 before having a wee look-see at a few of the other past and present residents of the popsicle thin pre-war building. A private elevator landing opens into a charity event sized gallery with a nearby walk in closet, mahogany paneled wet bar, prudently placed powder pooper and a trio of arched windows that reach almost to the ceiling and dip almost all the way down to the floor. The ocher and biscuit colored checkerboard floors are marble and the walls limestone. To the right of the entrance gallery, the 500+ square foot living room has herringbone patterned hardwood floors, a wood burning fireplace–1 of 3 in the doo-plex–and one of those previously mentioned enlarged windows. The enlarged window certainly gives a more panoramic view of Central Park than the original trio of windows probably did, but there's just something so post-war looking about the extra-wide window and, truthfully, it makes Your Mama edgy.

Opposite the living room lies the dining room with its pale paneling and fireplace flanked by arched niches perfect for displaying Fabregé eggs. A swinging door swings open to a butler's pantry that in turn leads to the fully updated eat in kitchen dressed in rich and seriously glossy polished mahogany cabinetry. The counter tops are marble and the appliances, natch, top-of-the-line. Just off the breakfast area that is flooded with eastern morning light is a second half-pooper and laundry room. A small staff room, discreetly concealed behind the glistening cabinetry, has a private and luxuriously windowed pooper. If one did not know that room was there, any number of naughty and nefarious things could go on in there without anyone being the wiser.

A curving, limestone staircase winds up to a too-narrow landing. To the right lies the master suite with fireplace, unobstructed view through another of those enlarged windows of Central Park, generous terliting facilities with two gigantic windows, and a large dressing room. To the left of the landing a long, long, long dead straight hall is lined with walk-in closets and a pooper on one side and on the other two bedrooms (one with an en-suite terlit), a small gym and a library with with wet bar. Now kids, Your Mama would never in a million years take up valuable floor space with a bunch of ugly contraptions meant to torture a body into toned and taut submission, but we're all for people having home fitness centers iffin their vanity requires. However, we're wrinkling our nose and pursing our lips at having to indelicately squeeze past the iron pumping accoutrement in order to get to the damn library. That is not acceptable in Your Mama's book, not for twenty-nine million damn dollars.

Your Mama–a space planning problem solver from way back–recommends a radical re-organization of the second floor that involves moving the master bedroom to the back of the apartment where it would get the eastern morning light, which is always nice in the morning, and moving that library up to the where the existing master bedroom is currently located. The library, a semi-informal space is where, we presume, a resident of a large apartment like this spends a great deal of casual time at home, cross stitching cute pillows to give as gifts, watching reality television and reading gossip glossies. It only makes sense–at least to Your Mama–for the more frequently used room to take advantage of the $29,000,000 view. After all you cain't see Central Park when yer sleeping so the view is largely lost on the master bedroom. If we figure out a floor plan that we think works better we'll post it. Feel free to send Your Mama your about rearranging rooms too.

Anyhoo, Mister Hurst's other real estate holdings including (but may not be limited to) a significant spread in quietly swank Sagaponack, NY–that's the Hamptons, sugar cubes–that stretches over 33 acres surrounded on two sides by Sagaponack Pond and includes a 11,595 square foot shingled mansion with 7 bedrooms, 9 poopers and 4 fireplaces, according to property records. A few years ago the filthy rich financier dropped approximately $27,000,000 for a trio of properties in Aspen, CA that, at the time of the purchase, included an approximately 13,000 square foot mansion. He quickly, reportedly, flipped a couple of the three parcels raking in a few million for his real estate troubles. If we've said it once we've said it a thousand times chickens, one of the many way rich people get even richer is to buy well located and pricey properties and flip them to even wealthier people at a substantial profit. Maybe this isn't so realistic in these post Wall Street meltdown days, but once upon a time it was a sure and quick way to make enough to put a down payment on a new Gulfstream G650.

Other filthy rich residents of 950 Fifth Avenue include billionaire Mort Zuckerman–the current Editor in Chief of U.S. News and World Report and a regular on the wacky politico yak and shout fest that is The McLaughlin Report. Mister Zuckerman reportedly resides in the approximately 6,500 square foot triplex penthouse he bought in 1986 for $8,500,000 and for which he's rumored to pay around $13,000 in monthly maintenance charges.

In 2004, hedge hog James Dinan shelled out $20,200,000 for the doo-plex of disgraced Tyco tycoon Dennis Koszlowski. Mister Kozlowski, who did some time in the pokey for nefarious financial wheeling and dealing, had previously bought the apartment from Blackstone Group CEO and unimaginably rich Stephen Schwarzman. Mister Schwarzman and his wife Christine famously decamped for a vast 37-room, $30,000,000 Peter Marino designed triplex penthouse at the supremely snooty 740 Park Avenue. The triplex had formerly been owned by high on the hog financier Saul Steinberg and, long before that, by John D. Rockefeller.

The most recent sale at 950 Fifth Avenue, according to Street Easy, was in January of 2008 when prop records show Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz laid out $25,492,500 for a doo-plex owned by big bizness baron and co-chairman of the Loews Corporation Jonathan Tisch. Mister Tisch, who was once married to Saul Steinberg's daughter, moved on to pay a blood curdling $48,000,000 for a 14-room co-op–complete with both silver and china closets–at the frighteningly expensive 2 East 67th Street.

Your Mama wonders to which of the top co-op buildings Mister Hurst will head once (and if) he sells his doo-plex at 950 Fifth Avenue. Perhaps he's got his eye on the (approximately) 6,700 square foot doo-plex at 740 Park Avenue that's languishing on the market at $26,000,000 and being sold by the estate of oil heiress June Speight? What about the sprawling simplex at 2 E. 67th Street, currently owned by Greek pharmaceutical executive Dr. Athanase Lavidas and listed at a knee buckling $38,000,000? There's always the 4,750 square foot high floor doo-lex at the very posh 834 Fifth Avenue, currently listed at $29,500,000 by bigwig Broadway producer–and former resident of 950 Fifth Avenue–Hal Prince.

Or maybe, as was suggested by Mister Hurst's wife Soledad in an article from long ago in the Wall Street Journal, maybe they've already made their primary home on their ranch in Aspen.

source: Brown Harris Stevens


Anonymous said...

With your excellent description of the property at Sagaponack, it was easy to find it on Google maps. Can't get a street view though but a pretty good aerial.

Thanks Mama!

Anonymous said...

I don't usually care for such traditional decor .... but there's something about these spaces that are just lovely. Maybe the proportions of the rooms? The killer views? Love it.

Anonymous said...

Mama--don't listen to those chilrun who get all pissy cuz these people aren't silly movie stars!! These people are the real deal. It's always welcoming to see how the "old guard" lives not these so called stars--trash!!
I love you, mama xoxox

dolly said...

I absolutely agree that the enlarged windows lend those two rooms a cheap and rather sordid post-war feel, and that having to pass through the gym to enter the library is also bizarre and unacceptable at this price point. But I also dislike the location of the laundry facilities. Let's say there are some dirty duds in the easternmost bedroom. Poor Juanita must schlep the laundry basket all the way down that corridor, down the stairs, and then stagger through the gallery, dining room, pantry, kitchen, and breakfast room in order to utilize the washing machine! Not to mention the olfactory nightmare should anybody be so uncouth as to patronize that terliting facility at breakfast time. I do love the idea of the maid's room being hidden behind a kitchen cabinet, however.

Baroness said...

Dizzying, Mama! Forget the tabloid readers' moaning about noncelebrity, this is real Gotham dish and numbers and dare I say, social history too.

Your tidbit that this co-op is "bachelor-friendly", well there's a world of nuance in that. I always did wonder, what does a single multimillionaire do, gay or straight, when he wants to live with a hot stripper he's crazy for? Would the board accept a Chippendale's dancer? Do Chippendale's dancers stil exist? So many questions.

Don't ever stop looking into the scandalous lives of Upper East Siders, Gossip Gurl. XOXO.

StPaulSnowman said...

The Regency sofa backlit by the arched window is a nice touch........but what looks like plum lacquer finishes in the kitchen are kindaskary. These great interior photos would make me fork over the asking price without even a pest control inspection.

Ernesto said...

Other than those two picture windows, this apartment is absolutely beautiful..tasteful rich decor, gorgeous panelling...I could move right in! Thanks mama

Anonymous said...

to anon 3:49. Try using Bing get a birdseye view that is much better than the aerial one on Google. Cheers

Sofanda Husslers said...

We mega wealthy man whores always buy townhouses. Nobody needs a tell all doorman to report to the world that we have a parade of rent boys in at all hours.

chris said...

You can see it on Google, but as usual Google has the street number wrong. It says 1008 5th Avenue when the street view clearly has 950 indicated. It seems to have scaffolding all over the 76th Street side of the building for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Totally a "B" building!
Don't listen to anyone who says that it's an "A".
Only one room faces the park.