The Real Deal New York

The 10 biggest residential sales of 2015

Barnett continues to rake it in; co-ops set new records

December 23, 2015 10:05AM
By E.B. Solomont

Topresi sales cover

Clockwise from top left: 15 Central Park West, One57, co-op at the Sherry-Netherland and renderings of the Charles and Carlton House

If one had to give 2015 a moniker, “The Year of the $100 Million Apartment” might be most apt. At least four new projects announced they’d be bringing penthouses to market with asking prices in the seven-figure range. When looking strictly at closed sales, however, the numbers are quite different.

The top 10 residential sales of the year, based on data from StreetEasy and the city’s Department of Finance, collectively totaled $565 million, about a 7 percent drop from last year’s $606 million worth of sales. Extell Development’s One57 continued to dominate with four sales on The Real Deal’s list.

While the $100.5 million penthouse at One57 – which closed in December 2014 — retained its status as the city’s priciest-ever apartment sale, commodities billionaire Len Blavatnik set a new co-op sales record when he paid $77.5 million for New York Jets owner Woody Johnson’s former pad in 2015.

Keep in mind that in-contract deals at Vornado Realty Trust’s 220 Central Park South could shake things up when those units start to close: Ken Griffin reportedly picked up a $200 million-plus mega-unit at the Robert A.M. Stern-designed tower.

But in these last days of 2015, here’s what the tally looks like.

1. One57, #75
$91.5 million

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Bill Ackman and One57

An investor group led by hedge funder Bill Ackman made the priciest buy of the year, paying $91.5 million – or $6,750 per square foot – for Unit 75 at Extell’s One57. The 13,554-square-foot duplex has six bedrooms, six bathrooms and two half baths. It also features a two-story, 51-foot glass enclosed “winter garden” with a curved glass roof. But residents shouldn’t expect to see Ackman in the elevator. In prior interviews, he described the condo as an investment. He even talked about flipping the One57 unit, which he said he bought with friends “for fun.”

2. 834 Fifth Avenue, #1112A
$77.5 million

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834 Fifth Avenue and Len Blavatnik

Billionaire Len Blavatnik’s $77.5 million purchase of New York Jets owner Woody Johnson’s pad at 834 Fifth Avenue became the city’s priciest co-op sale when it closed in March 2015. Blavatnik’s purchase – originally reported as $80 million – was approved by the co-op board in January 2015. The duplex spans the 11 and 12th floors of the Rosario Candela-designed building. (Johnson reportedly never lived in the apartment, but entertained there.)

Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born oil tycoon who Forbes estimates is worth $17.9 billion, also owns Edgar Bronfman’s former townhouse at 15 East 64th Street, which he bought for $51 million in 2007.

3. 781 Fifth Avenue, #1801
$67.5 million

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Co-op at the Sherry-Netherland

A Chinese buyer paid nearly $70 million for a sprawling co-op at the Sherry-Netherland in March, and is now looking to turn a quick profit, having re-listed the unit for $86 million.

The buyer – Genever Holdings LLC – picked up the fully-furnished pad from prior owners Gilbert Haroche, co-founder of Liberty Travel, and his wife Charlene. The Haroches, who pieced together the 9,000-square-foot apartment from smaller units purchased over the years, initially listed the sprawling residence for $95 million in 2012. The apartment has 2,000 square feet of outdoor space.

Less than a year after closing, the new buyer re-listed the 18th-floor pad in October, asking more than $9,500 per square foot. If sold for the full asking price, it will become the city’s priciest co-op sale.

4. 21 East 61 Street, #PH
$52 million

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Carlton House

A mystery buyer snagged the duplex penthouse at Extell Development’s Carlton House, paying $5,785 per square foot in January 2015.

Extell and Angelo, Gordon & Co. converted the building, once home to the Helmsey Carlton House hotel, into a 69-unit luxury co-op for a reported $350 million.

The six-bedroom, 8,988-square-foot unit sold for a steep discount after hitting the market in October 2014, asking $65 million.

It was bought by an entity listed as Azalea Holdings LLC, city records show. Azalea was represented by Peter Rosenberg, president of Terra Nova Services, a Philadelphia-based firm that represents high-net worth individuals and family offices.

5. 25 Columbus Circle, #PH78
$50.9 million

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Penthouse at Time Warner Center and Andrey Valivov

Russian financier Andrey Vavilov, one of the subjects of the New York Times’ “Towers of Secrecy” investigation, sold his pad at the Time Warner Center for nearly $51 million in 2015. Vavilov had bought the unit – the largest penthouse in the building – for $37.5 million in 2009.

The buyer, an entity listed as Columbus Family LLC, paid $7,487 per foot for the sprawling, 8,000-square-foot pad, which has six bedrooms and 8.5 baths.

Vavilov put the unit on the market in 2013, asking $75 million. The price was later slashed to $60 million before trading for $50.9 million.

6. One57, #77
$47.8 million

An undisclosed European buyer paid $45 million for One57’s Unit 77, a full-floor condo a floor above the duplex owned by Ackman and a group of investors.

The 6,240-square-foot unit went into contract in January 2012 and sold for $7,211 per foot.

The buyer, identified as Unit 58A Acquisition Corp. in public records, had custom upgrades made to the unit, which will reportedly be used as a pied-a-terre. The 77th-floor pad has four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms.

7. One57, #88
$47.4 million 

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Guoqing Chen (Credit: China Institute of America)

A Chinese investor closed on an 88th-floor unit at One57 in March, two months after snapping up a similar full-floor condo on the 86th floor.

An affiliate of aviation company Pacific American Corporation, led by CEO Guoquing Chen, paid $7,607 per square foot for the 6,200-square-foot condo. The buyer purchased the unit using a shell company dubbed Pac Wholly Own LLC, property records indicate. Pacific American is a subsidiary of HNA Group, China’s largest private airline company. The original price of the 88th-floor condo was $52.5 million.

8. One57, #86
$47.4 million

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Interior rendering at One57

Chen also picked up Unit 86 at Extell’s One57 in January 2015, nearly three years after entering into contract for the 6,200-square-foot pad. Public documents list the buyer as One57 86 LLC, but Chen’s name is listed on the $30.2 million mortgage from China Citic Bank International. The mortgage also names Pacific American Corporation, of which Chen is CEO.

The condo was originally offered for $46.5 million, according to an offering plan filed with the Attorney General’s office. Chen paid $7,645 per foot.

9. 15 Central Park West, #1819B
$45 million

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Terrace at 15 Central Park West

A duplex on the 18th and 19th floors of the Robert A.M. Stern-designed condo sold for $45 million, representing a $3 million loss for the seller, who paid $48 million in 2014. The 5,610-square-foot unit was initially asking $65 million when it hit the market in July 2015. The price was later chopped to $59.5 million.

The buyer was an entity known as Evergreen 15 CPW, which paid $8,021 per square foot. Evergreen 15 CPW subsequently listed the unit for rent, asking $125,000 a month.

In 2014, seller 15 CPW PHB paid $48 million, or $8,556 per foot, for the unit. The signatory for the Chicago-based LLC was Phengphian Laogumnerd, a manager of Songkhla Finishing Co. in Thailand.

10. 1355 First Avenue, #PH1
$37.9 million 

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The Charles at 1355 First Avenue

A mystery buyer scooped up three units on the top four floors of the Charles on the Upper East Side this summer for $37.9 million. The buyer intends to convert the penthouse apartments into a massive 11,750-square-foot pad, according to brokers, who said a relative intends to do the same with two floors immediately below. The relative forked over $20.7 million for the two units and plans to combine them into an 11,750-square-foot home. Together, the family members shelled out $58.6 million for the building’s top six floors. Bluerock Real Estate is developing the 27-unit building at 1355 First Avenue, between 72nd and 73rd streets, in partnership with Victor Group.

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