The Real DealApril 01, 2013Last week, news broke that Steven Cohen, founder of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors, would list his duplex penthouse at One Beacon Court, the condominium tower at 151 East 58th Street in Midtown, for $115 million. That figure would have marked a record high asking price for a New York City home, but it was soon eclipsed by the reported $125 million asking price for a triplex penthouse at the Pierre at 795 Fifth Avenue, formerly owned by the late financial analyst Martin Zweig. And while those listings would make just about anyone’s jaw drop, real estate insiders were almost blasé about the price tags.
“The new $50 million is $100 million,” said Richard Steinberg, a broker at Warburg Realty. “You can ask whatever you want for a property. Time will tell if it will fetch it.”
Either could result in an eight-figure or even nine-figure sale, brokers said, given the size and singularity of the properties and the rapidly escalating prices at the highest end of the Manhattan residential market.
Considering the square footage of the apartments, neither asking price is surprising, said Jonathan Miller, president of appraisal firm Miller Samuel.
“Ten-thousand square feet and above seems to be the number when you might see this [asking price],” he said.
Zweig reportedly paid $21.5 million for the 16-room Pierre penthouse in 1999 — a record at the time. The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home is now listed with Elizabeth Sample, Brenda Powers and Serena Boardman, all of Sotheby’s International Realty.
The penthouse was “a very difficult property to price because it’s a one-of-a-kind property, like a piece of art,” Sample said.
Sotheby’s looked at the apartment’s square footage and other comparable units to price it “competitively,” she said.
The 41-story Pierre has a fabled history. Part co-op (77 units), part hotel (140 rooms), the building opened in 1930 and underwent a $100 million renovation in 2005 after it was acquired by Taj Hotels and Resorts.
The average price for the three active listings in the building — not including the penthouse, which is not yet officially listed — is $7.35 million, according to StreetEasy. The 52 recorded sales in the building averaged $4.57 million, StreetEasy shows.
Victoria Shtainer, a broker at Douglas Elliman who lives in One Beacon Court and often brokers deals in the tower, described the duplex penthouse there as something “very special.”
“When I have my international buyers here and they want a trophy, there’s very few things I can show them,” she said. “So having the Pierre apartment and having something like [the One Beacon Court duplex], it’s definitely something to show and wow my clients with.”
Steinberg, who said he had the listing for the One Beacon Court penthouse when Cohen bought it, predicted the 10,000-square-foot duplex would sell for nearly $100 million.
“This is one of the great apartments in New York,” he said. “Based on the square footage, [the Cohens’] taste level, the size of their apartment, and if they’re asking $90 [million] and $100 million for the new developments condos, this is the new asking price.”
Cohen purchased the apartment for $24 million in 2005. (It was not immediately clear which broker has the listing.)
The 105-unit, 53-story tower was developed by Vornado Realty Trust in 2001 and designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. The building is close to other high-profile residential towers such as the Related Companies’ Time Warner Center and Extell Development’s One57.
The building’s four active sales listings average $4,423 per square foot and its previous sales average $3,973 per square foot, according to StreetEasy.
As several apartments have gone on the market at $90 million and above, sellers of trophy properties have changed their pricing strategies, brokers said.
“People are pricing things as pieces of art now,” Elliman’s Max Dobens said. “You have buildings that are special, like the Pierre. And owners are saying, ‘Well, I think it should be worth this and see if somebody agrees.’ People try to push the envelope.”
Just eight months ago, Steven Klar, the Long Island real estate developer, listed his 8,000-square-foot triplex at the CitySpire building at 150 West 56th Street for $100 million. (The apartment, initially listed with Raphael De Niro of Elliman, is no longer available, according to StreetEasy.)
At the time, real estate experts questioned the asking price, as The Real Deal reported. But an evolving market has worn away some of the sticker shock.
A duplex penthouse at One57 was on the market for $115 million. That unit and another at the tower are said to be in contract for upwards of $90 million.
Additionally, two apartments are on the market for $95 million, including an eighteenth-floor co-op at the Sherry Netherland at 781 Fifth Avenue listed with Elliman’s Dolly Lenz and Kathy Sloane of Brown Harris Stevens, and a penthouse at 15 Central Park West listed with Emily Beare of Core.
Plus, in a global market, New York is still a relative deal, brokers said.
“This is a market that’s not New York-based. It’s New York and the world,” Miller said. “There’s already been transactions in London for that [listing price], so we’re a bargain.”
Shtainer noted that this past year a unit at One Hyde Park, developed by the Candy brothers, sold for more than $100 million.
“Compared to the rest of the world, there’s no sticker shock, and there’s no reason that New York can’t catch up,” Shtainer said. “When you’re looking at London and then you’re looking at New York, New York is half-price.”