SELLER: Jeff and Lisa Blau
LOCATION: New York City, NY
SIZE: 4,700 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms (total)
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: The 16-room, Alan Wanzenberg-remodeled duplex at 740 Park Avenue that embattled property developer Kent Swig and his estranged, modern art-loving wife, Liz Swig, hoisted on the open market this week with a $32.5 million price tag seems like a goddamn bargain compared to the significantly smaller but no less luxe 10-room Shelton Mindel & Associates-reworked simplex apartment at the equally high fallutin' cooperative apartment house at 1040 Fifth Avenue that real estate industry bigwig Jeff Blau and his impressively educated investor wife, Lisa Blau, pushed on to the open market yesterday—we first learned from Chatty Charlie—with a bank account draining $43,000,000 asking price.
Mister Blau, for those of the children who do not know, is the influential and obviously generously compensated CEO of The Related Companies, a sprawling, New York City-based real estate empire with extensive interests across the U.S. as well as in China and the Middle East.
Mister and Missus Blau purchased the cooperative apartment almost exactly five years ago for $21,400,000 from young hedge fund fat cat Scott Bommer and his philanthropically engaged wife Donya.* Interestingly, the purchase came a year before the big-livin' Blaus made an unsuccessful attempt to acquire real estate tycoon Ara Hovnanian's picture perfect cooperative apartment at the ludicrously aristocratic 820 Fifth Avenue, then—so the real estate scuttlebutt went—being shopped as a pocket listing for around $36 million.
That apartment at 820, children, has an interesting history. After Johnson & Johnson heiress Libet Johnson was informed by the building's legendarily picky board she would not be permitted to buy and combine the full-floor apartments on the fourth and fifth floors, the estate of philanthropist poet Louise Crane sold the roomy fourth floor apartment in 1999 to for somewhere around $10 million to mass market fashion mogul Tommy Hilfiger. Mister Hilfiger, however, never moved in and quickly flipped it for $18 million to billionaire widow and international social maven Lily Safra who already owned a similarly sized apartment on a higher floor.
The Widda Safra reportedly bought the apartment for one of her daughters but, even after a multi-million dollar renovation, neither of her pampered daughters moved in and the apartment was eventually sold off to Mister and Missus Hovnanian for about $23.5 million. The Hovnanians hired avant garde Dutch architect Piet Boon to to give the elegant pre-war spread a modern-minded, all-white make-over that was featured in all its gleaming glory in House and Garden. So, if not Mister and Missus Blau, who did buy the Hovnanian's apartment at 820 some of y'all are surely wondering? Well, buckle your real estate safety belts, butter beans, because the buyer, according to property records and reports, was none other than Lily Safra, who this time paid $33,000,000 for the fourth floor apartment and the exact same time she sold her 12th floor spread for $40 million to Chicago-based hedge funder Ken Griffin. But we digress...
Anyways, Mister and Missus Blau's expensively and meticulously renovated simplex apartment at 1040 Fifth Avenue sits directly below the late Jackie O's legendary apartment that was later owned by multi-billionaire ultra-conservative political activist David Koch and is currently owned by hedge funder Glenn Dubin, who paid $32 million for it in 2006. Current listing details and other online resources show the Blau's rigorously clean-lined, high-floor corner apartment—recently featured in Architectural Digest—spans about 4,700 square feet with three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms plus a punishingly small staff room off the kitchen with a private, attached bathroom.
A private elevator vestibule opens to a trio of seamlessly interconnected living and entertaining spaces that orbit gracefully around a modestly-sized entrance gallery. The spacious corner living room has sweeping Central Park views, a wood burning fireplace, and delicious, large panel walnut paneling that wraps around to the 23-plus foot long park view formal dining room with built-in buffet and planting terrace. An intimately scaled library offers a cozy spot for t.v. watching and book reading with a second fireplace and built-in bookcases.
The service and staff wing were blown out to accommodate a mud room service entrance and a sleek, cook-friendly double island kitchen with integrated, Euro-style appliances. At the far end a built-in dining banquette nestles into a wood paneled corner and adjoins an office/playroom/den. Off the butler's pantry between the kitchen and the dining room, a nice-sized laundry room has stacked machines, a built-in utility sink, and a row of floor-to-ceiling storage cabinets.
Both of the guest/family bedrooms are roughly equal in size with a row of built-in wardrobes and a private attached bathroom. The meandering master suite occupied the entire ass end of the apartment and comprises a surprisingly compact bedroom that opens to a room-wide walk-out terrace, two custom-fitted walk-in closets plus a 25-foot long wardrobe-lined dressing room, a well-organized, medium sized master bathroom, and a private sitting room/boudoir. Of course, Your Mama thinks it would be much nicer if the terrace were off one of the public rooms but a small terrace off the master bedroom is, in the end, better than no terrace at all, right?
Individuals and families with the substantial financial means of Mister and Misssus Blau often own second third and even fourth residences and indeed the couple maintain an approximately 4,000 square foot ocean front contemporary on 1.5+ acres with swimming pool and tennis court in Bridgehampton (NY) that was scooped up in November 2003 for $7,625,000. In August of 2012, Mister and Missus Blau paid a combined $25 million for a pair of parcels in nearby Wainscott that include extensive equestrian facilities, swimming pool, and a six bedroom cottage that dates back to the 1600s and overlooks the northern tail of Wainscott Pond.
*The Bommers, as per property records, picked up the apartment in September 2005 for $12,375,000, and sold it after they already purchased a 17-room duplex penthouse a couple buildings north for—are you ready for this?—$46,000,000.)
listing photos and floor plan: Corcoran