SELLER: Steven Gottlieb
LOCATION: New York City, NY
SIZE: (approx.) 5,000 square feet
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Your Mama thought it might be a nice change of pace to start the week off with a little New York City fabulosity in the form of a unfinished duplex penthouse set high atop a particularly stunning and iconic park-fronting Art Deco building on the Upper West Side that’s popped up the open market with a knee-knocking $35,000,000 price tag.
As was recounted in a deliciously detailed article in New York magazine in 2005, again in 2008 in the New York Observer and, finally, a couple days ago in The New York Times, the two-unit combination cooperative penthouse has a rather illustrious chain of ownership that goes back to the 1970s when two-time Tony award winning Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage au Folles) paid $160,000 for the sun-splashed 19th and 20th floor duplex.
Mister Herman, who reportedly tore down some walls and mirrored others, occupied the terraced aerie until fashion tycoon Calvin Klein came for a visit in 1983 and, on the spot, offered Mister Herman a million bucks for the penthouse.
Not long after Mister Klein moved in he got into a kerfuffle with building’s board after he illegally installed a hot tub on the rooftop terrace. We’re not sure if the hot tub brouhaha had anything to do with Mister Klein’s desire to dump the penthouse but in 1989 he agreed to sell to movie producer and Planet Hollywood co-founder Keith Barish for $3,900,000. Alas, Mister Barish caught a case of The Real Estate Fickle, backed out of the purchase and, as a result, lost his $390,000 deposit.
Mister Klein quickly shifted real estate gears and sold the penthouse for $4.3 million to music and media mogul David Geffen, a well-known trophy property collector who—the children surely recall—recently dropped $54,000,000 on socialite songwriter Denise Rich’s woefully dated 12,000-ish square foot duplex penthouse across the park on Fifth Avenue. Anyhoo, Mister Geffen clearly caught a case of The Real Estate Fickle too because he never moved in and flipped the penthouse a little over a year later for $4,600,000 to—are you ready for this?—Keith Barish who—so the story goes—used a Jasper Johns painting as partial payment.
Like Mister Geffen, Mister Barish never moved in to the penthouse but did quickly cough up another two (or so) million bucks for an adjacent 19th floor apartment owned by four-time Oscar-nominated actress Marsha Mason (Only When I Laugh, The Goodbye Girl). When his planned combination and renovation become more cumbersome than he could stomach he sold both the still-uncombined units in 1993 or ’94 for $6,000,000 to—buckle your real estate safety belts—Calvin Klein. Such are the wacky real estate ways of the rich and famous, right?
The second time around, Mister Klein didn’t move in to the penthouse but did once again run afoul of the board when he removed all non-structural walls in anticipation of a major overhaul. Again we’re not sure if his battles with the board had anything to do with his decision to unload the penthouse a second time but in 1998 Oscar-winning movie maker Mike Nichols and his Peabody Award-winning Broadcast journalist wife Diane Sawyer agreed to to pay Mister Klein $7.5 million for the now combined but gutted penthouse.
When Mister Nichols and Miz Sawyer realized their sales contract omitted ownership of the sprawling second floor terrace they queried the board who—dontcha know?—told them they would need to cough up another million dollars to buy the outdoor space. They agreed to the board’s monetary demands but, before they knew it, were were outbid by the penthouse’s current owner, music industry bigwig turned social networking entrepreneur Steven Gottlieb who already owned an18th floor apartment in the building and who scooped up the unfinished penthouse in 1999 for $8,600,000.
Like the penthouse’s previous owners, Mister Gottlieb planned an extensive and expensive renovation but, after a dozen years planning—and no doubt millions in various upgrades and improvements—has chosen to sell.
As it turns out, this isn’t the first time at the real estate rodeo for Mister Gottlieb who very briefly had the duplex penthouse on the market in February 2008 with a $36,000,000 price tag. The Street Easy website shows the penthouse was re-listed (at an undisclosed price) and put into contract in June of 2008 but, for reason to which we’re not privy, the sale was never completed.
At the time Mister Gottlieb first and unsuccessfully attempted to sell the cooperative penthouse it carried with it monthly maintenance fees of $10,691. Current listing information shows the monthlies have increased to $11,632.
Current listing information includes a floor plan that depicts a proposed built-out that would transform the approximately 5,000 square foot unfinished space into a lavish and lofty park side perch with three bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, three fireplaces, a capacious 1000-square foot living/dining room, a slender wrap around terrace on the lower floor and, on the upper level, a double-height library and a contiguous glass-walled pavilion and glass-roofed conservatory that both open to an approximately 1,000 square foot wrap around terrace with heart stopping park and city views.
Given that New York City is flooded with buyers willing to pay almost any price for prime residential real estate now may be the perfect time for Mister Gottlieb to finally unload the penthouse. Given the plethora of deep-pocket buyers willing to spend vast and shocking sums of money on prime residential properties in Manhattan do any of the children think this place just might go for more than the asking price?