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Manhattan 12,000 sq ft duplex sells for US$53 million

[NEW YORK] The property spotlight was on the Upper East Side in September, where three of New York City's largest closings took place, albeit at markdown prices.

Topping the list was a palatial duplex at the 834 Fifth Ave apartment building that was home to investment banker John Gutfreund. It sold for US$53 million, less than half the US$120 million initial asking price from shortly after his death three years ago.

A few blocks away, Italian fashion designer Luca Orlandi's townhouse at 18 East 73rd St finally sold after lingering on the market for more than two years. The original price was US$40 million, but it closed at US$27 million. And at the new 520 Park Ave, an apartment was purchased for US$23.5 million, down from its US$26.7 million list price.

There were several other notable sales in Manhattan in an otherwise quiet month for the luxury market — at least when compared with recent activity. In the spring and early summer, a barrage of big closings were recorded as buyers rushed to beat New York State's higher "mansion tax", which took effect July 1.

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In Midtown, two more units closed at the ultra-pricey 220 Central Park South, including one for nearly US$42 million, the city's second most expensive transaction in September.

On the Upper West Side, Philip Lawrence, a music producer and songwriter, and his wife, Urbana Chappa Lawrence, a fashion designer and stylist, acquired a new condominium. And Madeline McIntosh, the chief executive of Penguin Random House US, and her husband, novelist Chris Pavone, bought a co-op at the Dakota.

Downtown, a grand townhouse at the Greenwich Lane complex sold.

The US$53 million Gutfreund duplex is on the seventh and eighth floors of 834 Fifth Ave, the majestic 16-storey limestone co-op building on the corner of East 64th Street, across from the Central Park Zoo. The apartment house, erected in 1931, is considered one of architect Rosario Candela's masterpieces. It also holds the city's record for the most expensive co-op sale, set in 2015: a duplex on the 11th and 12th floors acquired for US$77.5 million by Leonard Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born billionaire, from New York Jets owner Woody Johnson.

The unit has about 12,000 square feet (sq ft), with seven bedrooms, 7 1/2 baths, and expansive park views. Monthly maintenance is US$36,976, according to the listing with Serena Boardman of Sotheby's International Realty. Ms Boardman also represented the buyer, who was reportedly Stanley Drunkenmiller, a billionaire hedge fund manager, but she declined to comment on the transaction.

Mr Gutfreund ran the Wall Street giant Salomon Brothers in the 1980s, and died in March 2016 at age 86. The apartment was sold by his estate, with his wife, Susan Gutfreund, serving as the executor.

The duplex first entered the market in April 2016 for US$120 million and, as no buyers emerged, was steadily reduced; it was last listed for US$59 million. The appraiser Jonathan Miller called the nine-figure price a prime example of "inspirational pricing".

"The original asking price," he said, "was never close to market conditions at that time".

Meanwhile, Italian designer Mr Orlandi's US$27 million townhouse at 18 East 73rd St, between Fifth and Madison Avenues, was built in the early 1920s and designed in a neo-Georgian style by architect William Lawrence Bottomley. It sits across from the Joseph Pulitzer mansion at No 11.

Mr Orlandi, the founder of the Luca Luca fashion house and the husband of Nigerian model Oluchi Onweagba, had purchased the five-storey building in 2013 through a limited liability company, paying US$19.7 million, then commenced a top-to-bottom renovation that lasted three years. He relisted the property in March 2017. The new owner made the purchase through the limited liability company Mallow Enterprises.

The 10,000 sq ft townhouse has six bedrooms, six full and two half-baths, and five wood-burning fireplaces, according to the listing with Brown Harris Stevens. There is also ample outdoor space, including gardens in the rear of the home and on the roof.

Separately, at 220 Central Park South, sponsor apartments on the 56th and 58th floors were purchased. The identities of the buyers were shielded by a limited liability company and a trust.

The more expensive and larger of the two apartments is on the 56th floor, and sold for nearly US$42 million. Its 4,814 sq ft include four bedrooms and five full baths, along with impressive park views. The unit on the 58th floor, also with stellar views, has 2,431 sq ft, with two bedrooms and two baths. The sale price was US$18.5 million.

Both apartments are housed in the 65-storey Midtown skyscraper, clad in limestone and designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, which had set a national record this year for the highest price paid for a single residence at nearly US$240 million.

Meanwhile, the recently sold apartment at 520 Park encompasses the entire 28th floor of the 54-storey condominium, at East 60th Street, another Robert A.M. Stern limestone creation. The unit, which offers ample park and cityscape views, has 4,628 s ft, with four bedrooms and six baths, along with a library. The master suite has two full baths and a seating area.

At another luxury development, the Greenwich Lane in Greenwich Village, a five-storey townhouse at 141 W 11th St between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, sold for just under US$20 million. The 7,357 sq ft home, built in 2013, has five bedrooms and 6 1/2 baths, plus more than 1,100 sq ft of outdoor space.

As for music producer Mr Lawrence and his wife, the Upper West Side condominium they bought is located on the 38th floor of 1 West End Ave, a 42-storey glass tower between 59th and 60th Streets that opened in 2017. The price was nearly US$7.6 million. Their 3,055 sq ft apartment, which offers Hudson River and city vistas, has four bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths, as well as an enormous great room with a living room, dining area and kitchen.

Mr Lawrence, a songwriter, music producer and actor, has won seven Grammy Awards, including album of the year and song of the year in 2018 for his work with Bruno Mars.

Lastly, at the Dakota apartment building on 1 W 72nd St and Central Park West, Ms McIntosh and her husband Mr Pavone paid US$5.1 million for their three-bedroom, three-bath cooperative apartment. Many of the unit's original architectural details remain, like the mahogany and ash wood moldings, shutter-frame windows and trim, and tin ceilings in the kitchen. There are also three wood-burning fireplaces.

Ms McIntosh was named chief executive of Penguin Random House US last year, while Mr Pavone is the author of thriller novels, including The Expats and The Accident. Both were published by Random House.

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