Monday, June 18, 2012

Your Mama Hears...

...from a well-connected New York City snitch—let's call her Anna F. Laxis—that recently retired chat show queen turned struggling television network owner Oprah Winfrey has been peeping posh apartments and pricey penthouses on the Upper West Side for possible purchase as a pied-a-terre.

Miss Fabrique, who has many times provided Your Mama with dead-on accurate celebrity real estate scuttlebutt, wasn't specific as to Miz Winfrey's price range or list of desirable features but did whisper that the self-made multi-media billionairess went for a look-see at at least one expensive apartment at the storied Apthorp building on West End Avenue.

Anyone who cares an eeny-weeny whit about New York City real estate knows the Apthorp is a hulking and imposing, Renaissance Revival-style pre-war pile that occupies an entire city block and has a long history of celebrity residents including Al Pacino, Conan O'Brien, Cyndi Lauper, Rosie O'Donnell, 60 Minutes journalist Steve Kroft and Nora Ephron who wrote a long, bleating paean to her real estate love affair with the building published in The New Yorker.

The full-service building, built around a massive, landscaped courtyard/motor court with a stately, three-floor high rusticated limestone base, was a luxurious but somewhat bedraggled rental property until 2008 when—much to the angry tirades of many–the building went condo, super high-end condo where current asking prices for the largest apartments hovers around $2,400 per square foot.

A couple weeks ago Your Mama discussed some of Miz Winfrey's most recent real estate activities that include (re-)listing a co-operative in a dignified Beaux-Arts building in Chicago—it's now in escrow or contract or whatever they do in Chicago—and continuing to spend tens of millions buying up of property around her secluded and sprawling, multi-residence ranch-compound on the Hawaiian island of Maui. We've also heard she might like a place to rest her head in Los Angeles where her OWN offices are located but we don't have any current intel on that situation. 


Rugby E. Root said...

While I can see the Apthorp appealing to Miz Winfrey for a number of reasons (not least of which is its courtyard/driveway, which allows for complete privacy from prying eyes when coming and going), I don't really see her as an UWS kinda gal.

Shouldn't she be looking for something stupidly expensive in a coop along Fifth or Park Ave? I'd think the challenge of getting into a building like that would appeal to her.

Maybe she should look at whatever Hugette Clark apartments are still on the market. ;)

Anonymous said...

Just doesn't seem like the Apthorp is Ms Winfrey's style.A townhouse or Park Ave. is more fitting.

Anonymous said...

I dont see the townhouse. Madonna is an exhibitionist and therefore doesnt mind people peeping at her carcas...Oprah Not so much.

Little Miss Girl said...

I doubt Oprah could pass a coop board, especially on Fifth. Condo or townhouse would be best, or at least one of the more show biz friendly CPW buildings.

Anonymous said...

Hunny, nobody says no to Queen O. Nobody. I'd like to see a co-op board that would shut her down.

Anonymous said...

Don't believe the hype. The building is a dump and has no views and is filled with miserable renting tennats and eruopean investors. Besides the head designer of Lanvin, Cyndi Lauper and a actor from Seinfeld living here, I can not see this building Oprah's style and do not think she will be happy here.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:42 a.m., my wishes are that I could agree with you. Nevertheless, please recall "There but for the Grace of G-d go I," the 1970s disco song by Machine of course, with the chorus "no Blacks, no Jews, and no gays."

Unfortunately, some co-op boards still judge wealthy African-Americans as too uppity, wealthy Jews as too pushy, and wealthy gays as too ostentatious. Exclusion from co-ops and clubs transmits the odious message that "WE (upper case intentional) will let you come this far and no more."

Apologies if you are a post 70s child. Rabbi H. loves the Golden Age of Disco.

Rabbi Hedda LaTess

Rugby E. Root said...

Hedda, I could well be completely off the mark, but I know Edgar Bronfman, Sr. owned the penthouse at 1040 Park for years, and following the comings and goings at various high-end coops, it seems to me a lot of the apartments have been bought and sold by investment bankers with Semetic-sounding names.

I could see Oprah getting black-balled for being an "entertainer" and likely to draw attention to a building, but she'd meet the asset criteria (x times the apt price in liquid cash) easily and is probably wealthier than many residents of those sorts of buildings at this point.

Although, if OWN showed the way her ego is going at the moment, maybe she should just build her own damn building with a custom-designed apartment on top, like a tiara atop a wedding cake.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Root:

You're not off the mark, and isn't 1040 Fifth Avenue a most remarkable Rosario Candela designed building, with sumptuous simplexes and duplexes, and set-back terraced apartments on the highest floors, along with the most architecturally distinctive roof profile on the Avenue? Remarkable in another way, 1040 is not considered an "A" building among the bluest and snootiest: Along with co-op flipper Mr. Bronfman, who owned a high floor simplex although not the duplex penthouse, 1040 earlier admitted newly widowed Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy and her young children, Democrats and Catholics! And most déclassé? The Rabbi's very own ex-brother-in-law, ensconced for decades, although admittedly in one of the smaller 1040 duplexes.

The NY UES co-op plain truth? There are "good" buildings (Protestant), good buildings with one or two "designated Jewish" apartments, and "money" buildings (Jewish). The Rabbi is most comfortable on CPW, home for years to "undesirable" department store CEOs and Broadway showbiz artists.

Your last thought has me reminiscing fondly about cosmetics empress Helena Rubinstein, who (whom grammar aficionados?) proudly flaunted her fabulous Jewishness. When the boards of every "good" building refused her admission, Madame Rubinstein bought 625 Park Avenue - the whole building - and set up housekeeping in the triplex penthouse. And after her demise? Competitor Charles Revson, also Jewish and dismissed by Madame as "the nail man," moved into her former 625 penthouse!

Rabbi Hedda LaTess

Anonymous said...

The Apthorp is in a really pedestrian location of the UWS; 79th and broadway is hardly the stuff of which dreams are made.

Oprah could certainly do better, though her entertainment career, not her skin color,would be a problem for the best buildings. Those folks like low-key moneyed types, not tenants with a huge fan-base that might gawk and loiter around.