The Real Deal New York

El Dorado combo nets eight-figure offer

Also to hit the market: A $5M UWS townhouse with a waterfall

March 08, 2011 04:05PM
By Candace Taylor

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From left: famed Holocaust scholar Robert Jay Lifton, a bedroom inside 300 Central Park West, 300 Central Park West’s exterior, the living room at 157 West 87th Street and the building’s exterior

A combination of two rarely available El Dorado apartments — one of them the former home of famed Holocaust scholar Robert Jay Lifton — has already generated a near-asking-price offer since hitting the market last week, brokers said.

Cathy Taub, an executive vice president at Stribling & Associates, has listed Lifton’s old stomping grounds at 300 Central Park West for $7.2 million.

The eight-room co-op, 7G, is now owned by one of the richest families in the country, the MacArthurs, according to broker sources.

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The unit can be sold individually, or for $13.4 million, combined with the adjacent apartment to create a 15-room spread. The apartment next door, unit 7F, is being marketed by Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Oren Alexander for $6.2 million, as was previously reported.

Alexander said the combination listing, which recently appeared on the HGTV television show “Selling New York,” has already received an offer “around the asking price.” Another offer is expected today, he said.

Since the combination listing hit the market last Thursday, “the amount of phone calls is ridiculous,” he said.

One reason, Alexander said, is that “it’s rare to find such a large apartment facing the park.” Once the two units are combined, the resulting apartment will have 15 windows overlooking the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, he said.

Both units are the type to only hit the market once in a blue moon.

The El Dorado, an Emery Roth-designed art deco building at 90th Street, has long attracted celebrities like Bono, Moby and Tatum O’Neal. Current residents include actor Alec Baldwin and Jeffrey Gural, the chairman of Newmark Knight Frank.

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A living room at 300 Central Park West

Lifton and his wife, psychologist and writer Betty Jean Lifton, lived in Apartment 7G in the 1990s, according to city documents.

Now in his 80s, Lifton was an Air Force psychiatrist who served in Korea in the 1950s, and has since become known for his research on war and violence. His many books include “The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide,” about the logic doctors used to rationalize their participation in the Holocaust. Previously the director of the Center on Violence and Human Survival at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lifton is now a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Apartment 7G is no longer owned by the Lifton family, however. Brokers familiar with the building said the unit was purchased in 2001 by Gregoire C. R. B. MacArthur, the grandson of John MacArthur of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which runs the annual ”genius grant” program.

Gregoire MacArthur was a director of the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation, a philanthropic organization established by his father.

But in December 2001, shortly after purchasing the El Dorado apartment, he died of a heart attack, according to a New York Times obituary.

At the time, he was embroiled in a bitter divorce from his wife, Gina Giumarra MacArthur. According to court records, he died before the divorce had been settled. It’s unclear whether Giumarra MacArthur ever moved in. (She was not available to comment.)

Now, however, the apartment is vacant, broker sources said.

Meanwhile, the owner of 7F, architect Bernard Marson, has lived in the El Dorado for almost 30 years, Alexander said.

Marson first put the unit on the market a few months ago, but “we weren’t hitting our asking price,” Alexander said. After a potential buyer asked about combining the unit with the apartment next door, they began making inquiries about whether 7G might be available for sale, and eventually, the owner agreed. Marson drew up a potential floor plan for the combined unit with six bedrooms.

Taub, who declined to discuss the owners of the apartments, she said the two units “combine pretty seamlessly.” The F and G lines have been combined on other floors of the building, she said.

“It’s so interesting how now there seems to be a terrific demand for very large properties, with a tremendous amount of space,” she said.

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A townhouse hitting the market today for $4.95 million comes with a waterfall.

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The kitchen inside 157 West 87th Street

The four-story brownstone at 157 West 87th Street is listed with Vandenberg, the Townhouse Experts.

A renovation completed in 2006 gave the century-old house stainless steel appliances, a wine refrigerator and a custom-landscaped garden with bamboo plantings and a 5-foot-tall waterfall, said Dexter Guerrieri, Vandenberg’s president. 

The waterfall is currently covered in ice and snow, but when the weather improves, it provides “soothing sounds,” Guerrieri said. The flagstone-paved backyard also has a hydraulically-operated awning.

Another unusual feature is the house’s two skylights; one at the top of the stairs, and another one in the middle of the house that helps bring in more natural light, he said.

The second skylight “transports the light all the way down to the parlor floor,” Guerrieri said.

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