NYC’s largest available simplex hits market

9,000-square-foot Soho unit is owned by art collector suing Larry Gagosian
By Katherine Clarke | March 29, 2012 02:30PM

A 9,000-square-foot co-op at 84 Mercer Street which hit the market yesterday is New York City’s largest available simplex, according to father and son team Siim and Rudi Hanja of Brown Harris Stevens, which is marketing the listing. The apartment was previously listed in 2009 with double the asking price.

In fact, the unit, which is owned by Jan Cowles, the mother of financially troubled art dealer and collector Charles Cowles, stretches the entire 200-foot length of the building, from Mercer Street to Broadway, they said, and even has two separate entrances. It is the largest one-floor unit available in the city.

“This is not just a run of the mill Tribeca loft building,” Siim said. “It’s a one-time opportunity.”

Dealer Charles Cowles, the publisher of ArtForum magazine from the mid-1960s until the early-1980s, has apparently been living and working in the building for several years and even operates a small private gallery from the home, Siim said. He sold the unit to his mother, who reportedly suffers from dementia, earlier this year for $5.67 million, records show. The apartment is now on the market asking $7.95 million, or less than $850 per square foot.

Siim said for Cowles, who closed his Chelsea gallery in 2009 to retire, selling was just a “logical matter of downsizing.” The dealer is looking for a new pad, he said, and plans to spend more time in Florida, where he has a home.

It is not the first time the unit, which is current configured as a three-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom spread but could easily be repositioned, has been on the market. It was listed with Marie Evans of Luxe Group for $15 million in 2009 but was eventually taken off the market just over a year ago after it failed to find a buyer.

The new price tag is more competitive, Siim said, and more in line with corresponding asking prices in the neighborhood, which fall in and around $1,000 per square foot for a co-op, he said.

Jan Cowles, 93, made headlines in January when she claimed that art-dealing powerhouse Larry Gagosian, who recently purchased the Harkness Mansion on East 75th Street for $36.5 million, had sold a Roy Lichtenstein painting from her collection without her consent in 2008. She alleged that her son, who did not own the painting, had tried to lessen his financial troubles by giving the painting, “Girl in Mirror,” to Gagosian to sell.

Cowles was not immediately available for comment.