The Real Deal New York

Chicago law professor lists One Beacon condo for $15.9 million

Daniel Fischel, who testified in defense of Enron execs, hopes to sell the place for almost double what he paid in 2009

February 28, 2012 06:45PM
By Leigh Kamping-Carder

Daniel Fischel, the interior of his pied-a-terre at One Beacon Court, and the building's exterior

Prominent legal scholar Daniel Fischel put his One Beacon Court pied-a-terre on the market for $15.9 million this past Sunday, seeking almost double what he paid for it almost two and a half years ago.

Fischel, a University of Chicago law professor who made a name — and, likely, a fortune — testifying on behalf of headline-grabbing financial fraudsters, purchased the condominium at 151 East 58th Street between Third and Lexington avenues for $8.45 million in October 2009, public records show.

The 2,669-square-foot two-bedroom with a library and 350-square-foot dressing room boasts “an interior design that is as striking as it is serene,” the listing says. Noble Black, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group, is listing the unit, but was not immediately available for comment.

Fischel and his wife, Sylvia Neil, an attorney and professor at Northwestern University School of Law, bought the 48th floor apartment from Stuart Lasher, the managing director of Quantum Capital Partners, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based investment firm, property records show. At the time, the couple listed a Chicago address as their residence.

Fischel joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1984 and was dean of the law school from 1999 to 2001. He has become something of a star defense witness in white collar criminal cases, appearing at trials for Enron executives Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay; Charles Keating, a central player in the savings and loan scandal; and the co-called Junk Bond King, Michael Milken.

In the 1990s, Fischel wrote “Payback: The Conspiracy to Destroy Michael Milken and His Financial Revolution,” a controversial book defending Milken, who pleaded guilty to charges related to insider trading.

He also once reportedly counseled President Barack Obama, who had just lost the Democratic primary for a Chicago congressional seat, to give up his political ambitions in favor of a full-time professorship at the law school.

But if Fischel didn’t get enough exposure to white collar criminals from his expert witness duties, he could have strolled the hallways of One Beacon Court, where two convicted Ponzi schemers — South Florida attorney Scott Rothstein and New York attorney Marc Dreier — have owned units.

Rothstein’s apartment was ultimately sold by the U.S. government in January, while Dreier’s was purchased at auction by Berkshire Hathaway executive Ajit Jain, who already owned an apartment next door.

Pop star Beyoncé Knowles, NBC newsman Brian Williams and baseball star Johnny Damon have also owned apartments at the 105-unit tower, which was developed by Vornado Realty Trust and designed by architect Cesar Pelli.

Also known as the Bloomberg Tower, the 800-foot building houses the offices of Bloomberg LP on its lower floors.

Neither Fischel nor Neil immediately responded to requests for comment.

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