Fraudster’s “golden duplex” for rent at $22,500

TRD New York /
Nov.November 02, 2010 07:00 PM

Also available: An UES townhouse in which architect Samuel White once lived and an UWS rental in a building where “Sex and the City” was filmed

From left: 860 United Nations Plaza, 16 East 95th Street and 275 Central Park West

Before there was Bernard Madoff, there was Alberto Vilar.

A multi-millionaire money manager and patron of the arts, Vilar in 2005 was indicted on charges of defrauding a client of more than $5 million and using some of her money to make donations. The client was Lily Cates, the mother of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” actress Phoebe Cates. Vilar was ultimately convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison.

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Years before his arrest, however, Vilar had made headlines when he spent millions (unsuccessfully) opposing the construction of Trump World Tower, because it obstructed the skyline views from his massive duplex at 860 United Nations Plaza. When Vilar’s apartment hit the market — priced at $14.5 million — after his arrest in 2005, it made a splash for its garish décor of marble, mirrors and gold-leaf paneling, and was dubbed “the golden duplex” by Curbed.com.

The duplex has since been divided into two separate apartments and sold to different owners, according to Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Julian Berkeley, who is now listing both apartments along with Elliman’s Daniela Kunen. Apartment #25DE was purchased by its current owner a year ago, he said, while #24DE was sold by Vilar in 2006.

860 United Nations Plaza

In recent years, both listings have bounced between different brokers and price points. Berkeley and Kunen have now priced 11-room apartment #25DE at $4.75 million, and 14-room #24DE at $4.6 million. In addition, the 24th floor apartment is available for rent, as of today, for $22,500 per month. The two apartments can be recombined if a buyer is interested, he said.

Today, the apartments look noticeably different than when Vilar owned them. Some of the distinctive elements he put in place are still there, Berkeley said, such as gleaming granite floors and gold-leaf panels. Others, such as decorative fraises on the ceiling, have been removed. In re-decorating the apartments, the new owners “worked around” Vilar’s unique style, he said.

Still, he noted, “most [buyers] who come in are going to want to renovate.”

After 25 years of living in a townhouse at 16 East 95th Street, Samuel White moved out in part because he and his wife, Elizabeth, decided that “the days of shoveling the sidewalk were behind us,” he told The Real Deal.

The house’s next residents won’t have that problem.

The Whites sold the limestone townhouse for $8.35 million in 2008, according to city documents, and developer TECNY is transforming the building into a single-family mansion. Now on the market for $22 million, the completed home will feature heated sidewalks, among other things, according to listing broker Matthew Pravda of Leslie J. Garfield. (The listing is a co-exclusive with Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Sabrina Saltiel.)

That means the new owners won’t have to shovel on snowy days, Pravda explained. The five-story house, located on 95th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues, will come with an elevator, landscaped rear garden, video intercoms and security cameras in place.

The façade will remain virtually untouched, Pravda said, since the building is in a historic district. Potential buyers can combine the townhouse with neighboring 14 East 95th Street, listed by Garfield and Saltiel for $18.5 million, to make one gigantic 34-foot wide single-family home.

When the Whites bought 16 East 95th Street in the 1980s, it was “not a nice building and not a nice block,” White recalled, though the area improved greatly during the years that the couple owned it. At one point, the building was a magnet for students at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, which is located on 78th street, White said. As a result, the building “has quite distinguished alumni,” he said, including Pulitzer Prize-winner opera critic Manuela Hoelterhoff.

When the Whites purchased the townhouse, it was divided into 10 apartments, two of them occupied by rent-controlled tenants. They fixed it up, taking over several apartments for their own use and renovating others.

The building was vacant when it was sold to TECNY Group, said White, who then purchased actor John Leguizamo’s four-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment at 45 Gramercy Park North for $3.65 million.

White, an architect, is a partner in the New York firm Platt Byard Dovell White Architects. The grandson of architect Stanford White, he is the author of three books on the work of his grandfather’s firm, McKim, Mead & White, the designer of Manhattan’s original Pennsylvania station and Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus.

The house at 16 East 95th Street, however, has little architectural significance. “This [is] just an ordinary house,” White said.

When told about the developer’s plans to install heated sidewalks, White laughed.

“Well, that sounds like a good idea,” he said.

275 Central Park West

Fans of the TV Series “Sex and the City” may want to consider a new rental on the market at 275 Central Park West.

Scenes from the popular series were filmed in the Emory Roth-designed building, according to Rita Citrin of Rita Citrin Real Estate, who is listing a four-bedroom apartment there for $16,950 per month.

The building — the exterior and lobby really — served on the show as the home of one of the main characters, Charlotte York, played by Kristin Davis. (The interiors of the characters’ apartments were sets.) The building, located between 87th and 88th Streets, can be glimpsed particularly well in an episode called “Bay of Married Pigs,” in which the Samantha Jones character sleeps with Charlotte’s doorman.

“Law and Order” has also been filmed in the building, said Citrin, who also lives in the building.

275 Central Park West

The apartment itself is a “Classic 7” on the 11th floor, Citrin said, with views of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.

A rental of that size on Central Park West is rare, she said. “These large apartments don’t come up that often,” she said.

Sounds like Charlotte would approve.

Have a tip? E-mail Candace Taylor at [email protected]

 

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