Author’s incognito West Village townhouse sells for $7.83M

By Adam Fusfeld | June 10, 2011 07:46PM

Core’s Michael Graves and 225 West 11th Street

Though fitting for a client who’s known for using pseudonyms, the marketing technique used by the seller’s brokers for a West Village townhouse was unconventional, if not downright foolish. At least that’s what Michael Graves of Core was told as he marketed 225 West 11th Street on behalf of owner Robert Rosenblum, a novelist with 30 published works under various names, including “The Religion,” which was made into a movie starring Martin Sheen. But today he was vindicated, as the sale of the home closed for $7.83 million.

Graves refused to use signage outside of the 3,600-square-foot, seven-bedroom, five-bathroom home, dressed down the listing to the bare minimum, declining even to include photos of the home’s interior despite its $8.35 million asking price (note: correction appended). Graves also barred the cameras of “Selling New York” to enter the home, even though he had been regularly working with the show, to maintain the listing’s intrigue.

“The West Village has a mystique, a little incognito charm,” Graves said. “And I wanted this house to take on that same character.” While Graves admitted that he wouldn’t use this technique for “99 percent” of listings, “this felt right” for a building who’s major draw was “its character.”

Just as the brokers wanted a listing that reflected the neighborhood’s reputation, Rosenblum and his wife, Constance Simo, sought buyers who mirrored their own inclination towards the arts. In a New York Times story published last November, the couple told the paper that they intended to find a musician, artist, writer or activist to replace them. “My idea is to find someone who deserves the house and can feel what is here,” Rosenblum, who bought the house for less than $1 million in 1986, had said.

Graves said that attitude helped him keep the asking price high, as developers looking to flip the townhouse for profit would be scared away by the price. Instead, Graves, who said he usually tries to add whatever creativity he can to a listing, stuck to the “mysterious” marketing technique. But “innovation,” he acknowledged, “is only as good as the results.” And in Graves’ case, the results were good. He wouldn’t disclose the identity of the buyer, who was represented by Stribling & Associates’ Alexa Lambert, but said the sale closed today. The home first hit the market last June with an $8.35 million price tag and then went into contract in March.

To Graves’ knowledge, the sales price set a record for price per square foot of an unrenovated West Village townhome. Rosenblum and his wife are now searching for a “quintessential ocean house” in Maine, Graves said. Rosenblum could not be reached for comment.