The Real Deal New York

J. Christopher Flowers’ ex-wife takes $3M hit on UES co-op

Couple bought the home for $19 million at the height of the market

September 04, 2013 03:34PM
By Guelda Voien

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From left: 66 East 79th Street, J. Christopher Flowers and the interior of the 14th floor unit

From left: 66 East 79th Street, J. Christopher Flowers and the interior of the 14th floor unit

The ex-wife of billionaire private equity giant and avid real estate speculator J. Christopher Flowers sold her tony Upper East Side co-op to another private equity exec and his wife for $16 million — a steep loss over the couple’s purchase of the home, according to records filed with the city today.

Warburg Pincus partner Michael Martin and his wife, Gina, snapped up the neo-Georgian duplex apartment at 66 East 79th Street for $1 million less than the unit’s most recent asking price, per StreetEasy. Martin was not immediately available for comment.

The six-bedroom, seven-bathroom abode spans the entire 14th and 15th floors of the imperial co-op, according to the listing, with Sami Hassoumi of Brown Harris Stevens.

The spread hit the market in February, asking $18 million, as The Real Deal reported at the time.

The seller, Dr. Mary White, is the former wife of Flowers, who is the head of private equity firm J. C. Flowers & Co. and a major donor to the Republican party. Flowers is known for heady real estate risks: in 2006 he bought the Harkness Mansion at 4 East 75th Street for $53 million, the highest residential sale to date in Manhattan at that time.

However, shortly after he closed on the storied manse, White reportedly asked him for a divorce. He was in the midst of renovating the property, and sold it at a severe loss in 2011 to notorious art dealer Larry Gagosian for a mere $36.5 million.

Dr. White, an internist, is a graduate of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine of the City University of New York, according to reports. No number for her was available.

Likewise, the 66 East 79th buy did not pan out as well as the purported math nerd and Goldman Sachs alum’s other investments, it seems. The couple bought the home in 2006 for $19 million.

Flowers’ less than lucrative real estate moves are probably salt on the financial wounds he has suffered as of late. After years on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest Americans, he dropped off the vaunted tally in 2009. By 2011, that same magazine called Flowers’ once high-flying career a “bubble … [that] has burst,” as his investments in foreign real estate and in ill-fated derivatives broker MF Global tanked his funds.

In 2007, Flowers sold a townhouse originally developed by Aby Rosen, at 12 East 73rd Street, to another real estate investor, Andrew Farkas, for $23 million, reports show. Rosen had sold the townhouse to Dominion Management in 2001, which was operated by the Rinzler family, who sold it to Flowers for $19 million in 2004. That sale resulted in a protracted lawsuit with the Rinzlers, reports show, which Flowers ultimately won.

Hassoumi was not immediately available for comment.

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