Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Pricey House of (Zang) Toi

SELLER: Zang Toi
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $2,800,000
SIZE: 1,300 square feet (give or take), 1 bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: It isn't all that often Your Mama runs across a one bedroom apartment with a multi-million dollar price tag so when we do our pits sweat up with a cold mixture of financial flabbergast and residential real estate awe. They are, these multi-million dollar one bedroom apartments, real estate freak shows of a certain sort.

For some ballers (and wannabe ballers) a 35,000 square foot mega-mansion with a dozen bedrooms and a 2-lane bowling alley signifies the very apex of real estate hedonism. Others have a differently nuanced definition of luxury and instead regard preposterously pricey one bedroom apartments as the true zenith of (arguably unjustified) real estate extravagance. Your Mama, for what it's worth and for better and worse, sits squarely in the latter camp.

Last night, a bee in our real estate bonnet about such rarefied one bedroom residences, we perused the newest New York City listings to see what we could see and find what we could find. Within minutes we ran across an exceedingly opulent 1 bedroom apartment located just steps from Fifth Avenue and Central Park, tucked discreetly into the quiet rear of a breathtaking turn of the century Beaux-Arts townhouse, owned according to property records by flamboyant fashion designer Zang Toi, and recently heaved on to the market with an haute and haughty $2,800,000 price tag.

Mister Toi, a kilt-wearing, 50-something year old Malaysia-born and Big Apple-based sartorial superstar, creates sometimes beautifully minimal, sometimes elegantly ethereal or gorgeously gossamer, and sometimes seriously showboat-y fashions favored by high society mavens and other statement making red carpet walkers such as Patti Labelle, Ivana Trump, Eva Longoria and–natch–Sharon Stone. In addition to designing expensive clothing Mister Toi has also got a knack for generating cheap publicity. He has more than once appeared on one of Bravo's many reality programs and in March 2011 Real Housewives of New York City's Jill Zarin twirled down Mister Toi's runway in a black strapless dress with intricate gold beadwoark. For his Spring 2010 show in September (2011) Mister Toi sent newly svelte Fat Actress Kirstie Alley out on the catwalk in a cobalt blue coat dress with wide beaded trim and a big ol' bouffant hair-do only an old-school drag queen could love.

Anyhoo, property records show Mister Toi scooped up his decidedly decadent 1 bedroom and 1.5 bathroom digs back in August 2004 for $1,225,500. Current listing information shows the simply but sumptuously decorated north- and east-facing apartment includes lofty 12'4" ceilings, elaborate original moldings and two wood-burning fireplaces with carved marble mantels, one in the living room the other in the bedroom.

Mister Toi had the apartment photographed for the March 2007 issue of Elle Decor in which it was revealed the walls and ceilings throughout the approximately 1,300 square foot co-operative crib shimmer with half a dozen coats of high-gloss white lacquer. The original wood floors also have a vapory gleam from three layers of jet black enamel so mirror-like shiny a person could probably see the reflection of Mister Toi's naughty bits under his kilt.

Reached by elevator or a grand staircase, the apartment's front door opens in to wee vestibule that provides an intimate entrée to the baronial 28-foot long and 18-foot wide living room, an undeniably compelling space furnished in a manner not likely to appeal to anyone who thinks of comfortable as a place to curl up on a cozy couch with a good book or a bad reality television program. Oh, no dearies. Actual comfort, corporeal comfort, seems almost inconsequential to Mister Toi when it comes to the furnishing of his inner residential sanctum.

Mister Toi's living room instead exudes a self-consciously high-brow, pleasantly quirky and unapologetically forbidding Francophile brand of extreme luxury described in Elle Decor as–and we paraphrase–Marie Antoinette minimalism, a not entirely surprising decorative result given that Mister Toi claims in the article to loathe clutter and be "fascinated" by Marie Antoinette.

A gigantic, custom-made silver fox fur rug makes a rather wanton decorative statement in the living room furnished with a Louis XVI cane-backed salon suite and another cluster of silver-leafed Neoclassical-style pieces upholstered in charcoal-colored cashmere and trimmed in whisper soft mink. The chandelier overhead is late 19th century Baccarat, as per Elle Decor, and Mister Toi has flanked the magnificent marble and mirror fireplace with two life-sized portraits of–you got it–the guillotined queen Marie Antoinette.

Folding doors opposite the two over-sized windows in the living room glide open to reveal a petite but well-equipped, all-white kitchen outfitted with marble floors and counter tops, white lacquered cabinets, custom polished nickel hardware, and an antique crystal chandelier. The Viking brand range is, as to be expected, also snow white although we suspect Mister Toi is one of those New Yorkers who–like Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter were when we were New Yorkers–more likely to store linens and out of season clothes in the oven than to use it to cook food.

A wide pocket door joins the living room to the spare but still pompously furnished bedroom where Mister Toi had what is described in Elle Decor as a museum quality mahogany bed made by a noted Belle Epoque cabinet maker lacquered black and the original gold ormolu trim replaced with silver plating. The floor plan shows two east facing windows for capturing morning light, two walk-in closets for all Mister Toi's kilts and accoutrement, and an attached 5-star hotel worthy (windowed) bathroom bathed in gray-veined white marble.

A door in the entry vestibule opens to a short corridor girdled by a (windowless) marble powder pooper, a compact coat closet, and a small (windowless) room marked on the floor plan as a "Den/Home Office." In the Elle Decor article Mister Toi explains–and we paraphrase again–he had the small space, a potential second bedroom, kitted out as a "madly mirrored" massage room. He said he detests the concept of overnight guests and did not care to devote any of his limited square footage to the comfort of unwanted overnight guests. He went on in the article to say–and we're paraphrasing yet again–when he's forced to allow someone to spend that night in his apartment he, bless his pampered wittle heart, checks himself in to the impossibly swank Carlyle hotel around the corner where even the most basic (if still ritzy) rooms run more than four hundred clams a night.

Mister Toi's 8-unit townhouse building is filled top to bottom and stem to stern with hoity-toity types who include Maya Polsky, a Chicago-based art dealer who reportedly received a stupendous $184,000,000 settlement when she divorced her energy magnate ex-husband Michael Polsky in 2008. Iffin any of the children think Mister Toi's $2,800,000 asking price is crazy talk keep in mind that in June 2010 ex-Missus Polsky splashed out a ravenous $6,000,000 for an exceedingly opulent 1 bedroom and 1.5 bathroom apartment that encompasses the entire piano nobile of the grand limestone mansion. That's right, six million clams for a one bedroom apartment. A 2,000-plus square foot apartment, but still a six million dollar one bedroom apartment. Now that, children, is enough to make a person need a mood stabilizer.

For what it's worth and for anyone who might be interested, Mister Polsky went on to acquire 5-floor townhouse on Chicago's Gold Coast sold by JPMorgan Chase's exuberantly compensated CEO and chairman Jamie Dimon who initially wanted $13,500,000 for his 8 bedroom and 9 full and 2 half bathroom Chicago townhouse but eventually sold to Mister Polsky, as per property records, in November 2010 for $6,800,000.

listing photos and floor plan: Corcoran


Desert Donna said...

Mama dont sweat, this property is a perfect example of less is more (and location is everything). And why would the buyer care about the price, if another one bedroom sold for more than double?

FonHom said...

Mama - thanks for surprising me with a new phrase! Piano nobile! (Principal floor of a large house.)

Anonymous said...

omg, its very pretty!!

Anonymous said...

DAYUM! This is insanity at it's best. This is for the richest of richest who desire location over space who lay in bed and revel in their address and zipcode. For this price in NYC you could have gotten a much larger view apartment a few blocks East or on the West Side or multiple blocks south in a far more hip but not upper crust snooby zip code.

CRAZY TALK! Bring on the Martinis I need a buzz!

StPaulSnowman said...

And to think I was feeling hotly-toity having just installed a Japanese heated seat, butt washing toilet seat. It is true luxury at a fraction of the cost of Toi's toilet. Now I just need a marble fireplace and all will be well.

Anonymous said...

I see him occasionally at the gym -- never on the gym floor but in the locker room. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he is taking class in one of the studios.
There are some other things I could say, but I'm not going to.
Surprised he's been able to stay in business and keep showing. Many like him have had a rough time.

Anonymous said...

Terribly artificial and fake. Arty-farty to boot. Not a place where a sensible person would be comfortable or want to live.

Anonymous said...

A little primer on Manhattan co-ops -- this may not make sense to readers in other parts of the country, but is the way all of the better buildings in New York operate.

The purchaser in a co-op does not buy the apartment, but rather buys shares in the co-op that owns the building. Those shares entitle the owner to live as a tenant in the apartment, and there are hefty maintenance charges monthly to pay the apportioned share of the running costs of the building (taxes, doormen, etc.). The co-op board decides who is allowed to buy the shares - a purchaser must submit their entire financial package, as well as letters of recommendation in order to be considered. It is illegal to turn down purchasers based on discrimination, but the boards have a lot of leeway in terms of deciding who they want to live with and be in business with running the corporation that is the building they jointly own together.

This all has a bearing on the price of the apartment. A small building like Zang Toi's has neither a doorman nor a difficult board. Therefore the maintenance is (relatively speaking) low, and the asset threshold required more relaxed than in a fancier building. The building is also more likely to accept a person who might not pass a more uptight board (like a fashion designer who wears skirts).

So a person could put only 25% down, and be able to live in a grand one bedroom apartment in a neighborhood full of very expensive co-ops. This drives the price UP, as it means many more purchasers are eligible to buy the apartment.

In fancier, more difficult buildings, a purchaser might have to show three or more times the purchase price in liquid assets - around $8,000,000 -- to buy a similarly priced apartment. A board might not like part time residents, or residents known to entertain to often, or attract paparazzi, etc. The boards also control renovations, limiting the amount of time they can take, imposing fees, and generally making it extremely expensive and time consuming to do anything beyond a basic paint job - so if an apartment is renovated in the buyer's taste and in excellent condition, there is a premium attached to the price as it saves time, stress and money.

All of this is just to say sometimes a small Manhattan apartment seems much more expensive than it is when you consider the unique ownership parameters of a co-op, and the easier it is to purchase the higher the asking price will be. I doubt Mr. Toi will get 2.8.... but I wouldn't be surprised if it did sell in the 2 million range.

stolidog said...

I would LOVE to let my Newfie loose in that apartment for 10 minutes. Clutter indeed.