SELLER: Vikram and Swati Pandit
LOCATION: Greenwich, CT
SIZE: 5,105 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A little birdie in the beautifully bew-colic and downright swanky financier-friendly enclave of Greenwich, CT recently chirped to Your Mama that India-born Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit has put his getaway in Greenwich up for grabs on the open market with a $4,300,000 price tag.
Mister Pandit may not be a celebrity of the Tinseltown or Nashville variety, but in the high-finance world of Wall Street the man is indisputably a major (if controversial) player of the highest magnitude. From the mid-1980s until sometime in 2005 Mister Pandit toiled lucratively for the financial services juggernaut Morgan Stanley. In 2006 he and a couple cronies from Morgan Stanley started a hedge fund called Old Lane, which they sold—much to his already bulging bank account’s glee, we imagine—to Citigroup in 2007 for a back straightening $800,000,000. A few short months after Mister Pandit cashed in on the cash out of his hedge fund he was named CEO of Citigroup. This was just before the shit hit the global economic fan in 2008.
News-followers will surely recall poor Mister Pandit was vilified and pilloried in the press in 2009 after it was revealed Citigroup finalized the purchase of a fancy corporate jet after the then-seriously-embattled financial services conglomerate had been (in)famously saved from bankruptcy in 2008 by a $45 (or so) billion dollar bail out by the U.S. government. It didn’t help his image that in 2008 his pay package was widely reported to be in excess of $38,000,000. It also, paradoxically, didn’t help that his nearly forty million dollar compensation package was soon worth only a fraction of that amount after Citigroup’s stock price plummeted. He responded to the pounding criticism by re-setting his salary at just “$1 per year with no bonus until we return to profitability.” Fortunately for him and his pocketbook, Citigroup has recovered quickly and nicely and Mister Pandit’s base salary has been reset to just under two million clams per year. In May 2011 he was handed a monstrous $23,300,000 retention bonus.
As fascinating a tale as Mister Pandit’s professional path may be let’s move on to what we’re here to discuss, a plush Greenwich, CT estate owned by Mister (and Missus) Pandit and currently listed with a $4,300,000 asking price. As best our boozy brain can extrapolate from the not completely clear property records, Mister Pandit and his low profile missus Swati picked up the pastoral mini-estate in May 1999 for $3,400,000.
Listing information states the Pandit’s 2.37 acre property, situated due south of the very upper-crusted Round Hill Country Club of which he may or may not be a member, includes 5 (or 6) bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms. The Fairfield County Tax Man, for what it’s worth, shows the classic white-clapboard Colonial-style residence was originally built in 1939, measures 5,105 square feet, and contains 5 bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms. The differences in bedroom and bathroom counts may (or may not) have something to do with whatever sleeping and terliting facilities there may (or may not) be in the pool house as well as the size and amenities of the what listing information calls a “garage apartment.”
A long private drive stretches estate-like from the country road through a dense stand of trees to a circular driveway that curves tightly on the inside crook of the L-shaped structure. The front door anchors one leg and the other has a (too-) prominent, two-car front-facing garage.
Now children, we hate to nitpick but why, with all this land, the garage doors were not switched around to the backside of the house is a devilish residential design mystery Your Mama will likely never solve. Indeed, the reading of Rule #47 in Your Mama’s Big Book of Decorative and Design Dos and Don’ts is quite clear: “Unless spatially required by the unalterable strictures of the lot size and shape, any and all residential structures of authentic or faux-authentic traditional architectural stature shall arrange the automobile garage bays in such a fashion as they can not be seen directly from the driveway, motor court and/or front door.”
Anyhoodles poodles, the interiors of Mister and Missus Pandit’s pad in Greenwich are not surprisingly and decidedly traditional, and possibly staid. It appears to Your Mama much of the Pandit’s furniture and day-core has been removed because each of the rooms shown in listing images suffer from a dearth of furnishings and a near complete lack of decorative attention and imagination. At least we hope to high heaven most of the knick-knacks, paddy whacks and bric-a-bracs that made this house the Pandit’s home have already been removed because the existing anemic day-core shown in listing photographs just makes Your Mama sad and gassy.
The sizable but far from grandiose center entry hall has an unusual geometric pattern stained on the wood floor and the adjoining formal living room has low-looking ceilings and a fireplace flanked by built-in bookshelves and storage cabinets. There’s another fireplace in the bay-windowed dining room, which has sparkly gold (or maybe) brass light fixtures. In the den/library there are ochre walls, a (possibly wet) bar bay, another fireplace—there are a total of 5 fireplaces according to listing information—and is riotously done up with ikat pattern curtains that clash with a number of other intricate multi-colored patterns present in the carpet and on the upholstered pieces. It’s really not so strange that Your Mama would adore a zany, mix-and-match pattern extravaganza. But, children, let Your Mama give you the T on this bit of bizness: mixing and matching multiple patterns in a single space is a dangerous and potentially volatile decorative solution clearly not well-practiced by every nice-gay or lady decorator who makes use of the convention. Furthermore, we can not and will not speak of the painting that depicts three hot air balloons that hangs over the sofa and we ask that the children please do not either.
The center-island eat-in kitchen certainly has high (or high-ish) if somewhat banal and not well-mingled finishes that include speckled bull-nose granite counter tops—the sort of stuff installed in every medium and high grade tract house across America—and a tile back splash that looks like it was removed from some other kitchen and installed here. Listing information points out the kitchen has an adjacent family room and the remainder of the main level includes (but may not be limited to) a play room, home office, mudroom, and main floor bedroom with bathroom suitable for guests, live-in family member(s), staff, and/or etc. Additional living space, as mentioned earlier, is provided above the doghouse-dormered two-car garage.
The mostly landscaped property has rolling lawns, gardens, various entertainment and lounging terraces, a built-in outdoor barbecue station, numerous mature shade trees, and a heated (outdoor) swimming pool with adjacent pool pavilion wrapped in French doors and multi-paned windows.
This is not, as it turns out, the first residence in Greenwich Mister Pandit has owned and iffin we were the betting type—and we’re not—we’d bet both our long-bodied bitches Linda and Beverly this won’t be the last given the area’s magnet-like pull for top-level Wall Street executives and hedge fund managers such as Mister Pandit. In June 1994, then a bigwig at Morgan Stanley, Mister Pandit paid $1,850,000 to acquire a 7.33 acre estate immediately next door to Richard “Dick” Fuld’s much more grand Connecticut spread. They sold the 6,414 square foot house in May 2000 according to property records for $2,637,5000 to a well-heeled couple who, Your Mama’s research on the internets revealed, have (or had) a yellow Lab they named Bentley, after one of their cars.
Like many financial industry fat cats who own expensive and stately estates in Greenwich, Mister (and Missus) Pandit also maintain deluxe digs in New York City. In November 2006 the Pandits purchased two adjacent condominiums—one of which was a combination of two apartments—in a sleek, all-glass tower in an area of Midtown sometimes called Turtle Bay. Property records show they paid a combined $10,096,450 for the two/three units that total 3,352 square feet. As far as Your Mama can tell, Mister and Missus Pandit continue to own the combination condo-crib.
In late 2008 Mister and Missus Pandit sold a trio of adjacent apartments—two of which had already been combined into one 4-bedroom apartment and the other a a contiguous but separate 1-bedroom unit—in a fairly expensive if entirely undistinguished residential tower on the corner of East 85th Street and Second Avenue.
It wasn’t until the fall of 2007 that Mister (and Missus) Pandit opted to purchase a Manhattan residence that glitters and shimmers in a manner commensurate to their Wall Street wealth when property records and various reports from the time show the Pandits paid $17,850,000 to acquire the late actor Tony Randall’s sprawling full-floor corner residence at the legendary Beresford building on Central Park West. Listing information from the time shows the 10-room residence has (or then had) 20 windows with wide Central Park Views, a 30-foot long living room with wood-burning fireplace, and a total of 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms including a staff wing with servant’s hall, bedroom, bathroom and wine storage. Monthly maintenance at the time the Pandit’s purchased the apartment ran about $6,400.
Other high-profile owner/residents of the mighty Beresford (and said to) include Diana Ross, John McEnroe, Jerry Seinfeld (who’s in Isaac Stern’s former apartment), actor Andrew McCarthy (whose former West Village townhouse is now owned by music exec Thomas Hesse and currently on the market for $5,250,000), Cosmopolitan magazine’s former queen bee Helen Gurley Brown. Actress extraordinaire Glenn Close and husband David Shaw sold their two bedroom, two study, and two-terrace unit in August 2010 for $10,200,000 to a real estate executive and his wife after listing it in late January (2010) at $11,800,000.
listing photos: Sotheyby’s International Realty