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Part of a historic mansion house in Manhattan, 828 Fifth Avenue, is reported to be under a contract of sale for US$75 million, according to the New York Post. This will be the biggest price ever paid for a coop in New York City.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is said to be the buyer and a real estate industry source said he, and his magnificent girl friend Dasha Zhukova, had been secretly looking at some of the city’s top-priced town houses over the last twelve months.
The couple have two US-born children together – Aaron Alexander, born in 2009 and Leah Lou, born earlier this year in April 2013. Abramovich also has five more children with his ex-wife.
The price reported for the deal is even higher than the US$54 million music and movie mogul David Geffen paid for socialite Denise Rich’s former home at 785 Fifth Avenue, just down the street. It is also higher than the US$39 million George Soros’s ex-wife Susan Weber Soros is now asking for her home across the park, down from US50 million when it was first listed.
828 Fifth Avenue is a hugely exclusive 9-unit coop apartment house in Lenox Hill Manhattan, on the corner of 64th Street and of course overlooking Central Park. It was built in 1886 in pseudo French Renaissance-style, and was once even described by architectural historian John Taurananc as “about as close to Versailles as residential New York has to offer.”
828 Fifth Avenue
Originally it was built for coal baron Joseph Berwind, only later it became a coop building in 1920 with nine apartments on six floors. Of course it has its own full time doorman, and is officially a pet friendly building.
As a coop building, owners purchase shares in a cooperative which then holds collective title to the property, rather than hold individual title to a condominium. As a result existing owners can effectively have a potential stranglehold on new purchasers’ social status as under typical coop rule-sets in New York they can, and frequently do, reject any purchasers they haven’t liked.
In recent times the 828 Fifth Avenue building adopted condominium rules which obviously while it helps make it easier to buy and sell units, certainly then lowers the barriers for acceptability a little as the the trade-off.
The coop Abramavich is buying was actually once 4 separate units in the 9-unit building. These were then reduced to 5 in total when the 4 he is now buying were subsequently consolidated into just 1 unit. This had been achieved originally by Howard Ronson, a real estate developer from the UK.
Over a period of many years he had painstakingly consolidated the 4 units, and it was apparently something of an obsessive dream of his to some day buy out all the rest as well and restore the mansion to its original splendor as a single family home – exactly as it had been under Joseph Berwind the king of coal. After his death his heirs lost the taste for that particular adventure and first tried to sell their -still enormous – portion of the house two years ago only to take it off the market in May of last year when there were no buyers at the then paltry asking price of just US$72 million.
At over 15, 000 square feet, plus wine cellar and several terraces Mr. Abramovich will still have plenty of room for entertaining with just the 4 consolidated units. And given enough time, patience and of course money he may now himself have a crack at buying out the rest from everybody else and giving himself what would certainly be a totally unique private home for his trips to the Big Apple.
It may not actually be Versailles, but the next best thing ain’t bad either. We know he has the money; and may have the time. Whether he has the patience we will see in due course.