Floor Plan Porn: The Swigs of 740 Park Avenue

SELLERS: Kent and Elizabeth Swig
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $32,500,000
SIZE: (approx.) 7,500 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Those of the children who follow the delicious melodramas of New York City’s upper crust real estate market well know there’s some crazy shit going down at famously fancy-pants 740 Park Avenue.

740 Park Avenue is well known in real estate circles to be an an all cash cooperative apartment house with a powerful, deeply probing, and particularly persnickety board that quite literally holds the keys to ownership residency in the fabled building.* Typically an all cash building of 740’s prestige requires buyers not only pay 100% of the purchase price but also be able to prove to the board they have significant additional liquid assets.

In 2000 property developer Kent Swig and his estranged wife, Elizabeth, coughed up an unknown amount of dinero to acquire an approximately 7,500 square foot duplex at 740 Park Avenue and, at some later point, secured two loans against the apartment that total about $17.6 million. For whatever reason(s) the couple stopped making payments on the loans sometime in 2009. Naturally, the loan holder, Bank of America, got their financial panties in a ruffle has made several so far unsuccessful attempts to foreclose on the Swig’s grandly proportioned, expensively fitted, and finely finished duplex apartment.

Mister Swig, in case any of y’all don’t know, is the scion to the wealthy and renown San Francisco family that owns the Fairmont Hotels chain. Missus Swig also comes from extremely fortunate financial circumstances; She’s the daughter of feisty octogenarian real estate developer Harry Macklowe.* Most reports Your Mama turned up suggest the foreclosure ugliness has less to do with Mister and soon-to-be ex-Missus Swig financial abilities—it would be a high society shocker if they were actually broke—and more to do with the bitter push and shove of their impending but not yet finalized divorce. Soon-to-be ex-Missus Swig reportedly remains in residence at 740 with the feuding couple’s two children.

We don’t know the current status as regards to BofA’s attempt(s) to foreclosure but we do know, thanks to Deenna Beenna and the lightening fast kids at Curbed, that the splitting Swig’s contemporary art-filled low-floor spread at 740 Park Avenue has popped up on the open market with an $32,500,000 asking price.***

Listing details show the two-floor, 16-room sprawler was meticulously updated and renovated by renown architect Alan Wanzenberg and has five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. However, children, Your Mama’s study of the floor plan turn four family bedrooms and four bathrooms on the upper level, a half bathroom for guests between the foyer and the library on the lower level, and bifurcated staff quarters on the lower level that include three prison cell-sized bedrooms plus a staff lounge and 1.5 (windowed) bathrooms. By our count, that makes for a total of seven bedrooms and five full and two half bathrooms but what do we know, right?

The apartment’s lower level is only one flight up from the street on the building’s second floor but there’s still a private elevator vestibule that connects to an impressive, 25-foot long foyer with putty colored walls that Your Mama would be flabbergasted to learn are not hand-rubbed plaster, an inlaid basket weave-patterned wood floor, and a swooping and magnificently sinuous staircase.

The commodious and aristocratically stiff-collared corner living room stretches a sensational 37 feet with wood floors, a wood burning fireplace, a pint-sized private terrace, and windows trimmed with what looks in listing photos to Your Mama like brass or copper or some other elegantly patinated metallic material. Not that it matters a whit but Your Mama does not care for the Swig’s high-luxe day-core even though all the Neoclassical gilded furniture in the living room is stunning and probably museum quality. We love, however, the former couple’s high octane contemporary art collection. Can any of the children name three or more of the artists on display in listing photos?

A second wood-burning fireplace warms an adjacent, dark wood paneled library with three south-facing windows that overlook E. 71st Street and a funny little niche off the banquet-hall sized formal dining room is described in listing details as a “conservatory.”

The service wing, tucked back into the rear, northern wing of the apartment, includes an eat-in country kitchen with custom, Shaker-style cabinetry with bead board details, top-brand appliances, and a geometric, custom-designed tile floor. Listing details state there are “four staff rooms and two full baths situated in this wing of the home” but, once again, Your Mama counted only three staff bedrooms plus a staff lounge and 1.5 bathrooms on the floor plan included with publicly available digital marketing materials.

The rear stairs in the kitchen ascend to the upper level service entrance and a galley-style laundry room equipped with two washers and two dryers. The laundry room links through to a windowless interior family room/play room/children’s study off of which open a pair of reasonably sized family bedrooms, both with private en suite poopers and walk-in closets plus additional storage. A third guest/family bedroom is more conveniently accessed by the curvaceous main stair way and also offers occupants a walk-in closet and and a private (if windowless) en suite facility.

The impressive master suite, according to the floor plan, has a 400-plus square foot corner bedroom with a third wood-burning fireplace and extensive closet space—two walk-ins plus a 25-foot long custom-fitted dressing room. The bathroom that looks to Your Mama like it’s larger than any of the staff bedrooms and has two sinks, and separate tub and shower. An adjoining private study can also be accessed via the dressing hall as well as the upper level bedroom corridor.

Far be it for Your Mama to assess value as this apartment is worth whatever extraordinary amount a rich person who can pass the board’s high-nosed approval will pay for it. However, interested parties should note that an (essentially) identically sized if slightly differently laid out duplex apartment directly upstairs from the Swigs—owned by financier Peter Huang and on market in 2008 for $38 million—is listed on the open market for $29.5 million.

The swanky coop’s most recent recorded sale was a duplex slightly smaller than the Swigs but with an equally gracious layout that was sold by the estate of June and Randolph Speight—he was once the powerful and feared president of the building’s notoriously persnickety board—to Wall Street bigwig Jonathan Sobel and his wife, Marcia Dunn, in August of 2012 for $19.5 million. In next most recent sale was in May of 2012 when, amid much tongue wagging by property gossips, billionaire investor and hardcore real estate baller Howard Marks paid Time Warner widow and philanthropist Courtney Sale Ross $52.5 million for a downright epic 30-room duplex apartment.

Given their fantastic wealth and preeminent social status it doesn’t seem very far fetched to imagine that Mister and/or soon-to-be ex-Missus Swig keep at least one or two other private homes in some of the U.S.’s most exclusive and expensive locales but, truth is, Your Mama really has no idea where if anywhere else besides 740 Park Avenue Mister and/s soon-to-be ex-Missus Swig maintain—or rather maintained—personal residences. We do know, in case anyone cares, they’ve owned at least two homes in the Hamptons; Property records show they sold a high-hedged, tennis court estate on Bridgehampton’s Matthews Lane in 2006 for $3.65 million.

*Cooperative ownership can be complicated and dizzying and Your Mama really doesn’t have the time or inclination to make a deep dive into the ins and outs of cooperative ownership in New York City. If any of y’all are that interested, have a look here, and/or here, and/or here and/or here.

**Harry Macklowe faced his own financial issues in 2008 when a cash crush and the economic meltdown of 2007-8 forced him to forfeit to Deutsche Bank more than half a dozen office tower in Midtown, including the iconic General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue and E. 59th Street. But that’s really another very interesting real estate story for another time and another blog…

***Not surprisingly, the apartment is listed by a top broker at Brown Harris Stevens, which happens to be owned by Mister Kent Swig’s Terra Holdings.

listing photos and floor plan: Brown Harris Stevens

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