UPDATED, 4:42 p.m., Jan. 30: The nation of Qatar is in contract to buy an Upper East Side townhouse for $100 million.
Qatar intends to convert the townhouse into a consulate, as the New York Post initially reported. The 20,500-square-foot mansion, currently in use as an art gallery, will set a record for the priciest New York City commercial townhouse if it closes.
The property is currently owned by prominent New York City art dealers the Wildenstein family, who were represented by the Corcoran Group’s Carrie Chiang in the deal. The property was never officially put on the market, but had unofficially been asking about $125 million, Chiang confirmed. The sale is slated to close in April.
“I was approached by the buyer’s representatives who asked if I knew of a property that could meet the very specific needs of their client,” Chiang told The Real Deal via email. “I contacted my long-term clients, the Wildenstein family, to explore any possible interest in selling their mansion although the property was not on the market. I thought of that property because it was the perfect answer to the Qatari consulate requirements. After reviewing the buyer’s request, my client agreed to the sale and the deal was consummated very quickly.”
The record for the most-expensive residential townhouse sale remains with the Harkness Mansion at 4 East 75th Street, which private equity mogul J. Christopher Flowers purchased in 2006 for $53 million. Flowers later sold the property to art mogul Larry Gagosian for $36.5 million.
In a statement to The Real Deal, Corcoran President and CEO Pamela Liebman credited Chiang’s “expertise and experience” for her role in the successful deal. “Even though Carrie maintains a very low profile, everyone in the industry – and around the world – knows who to call when a client is looking for the best,” Liebman said via email.
Oren and Tal Alexander of Douglas Elliman’s Alexander team represented the buyer in the deal.
“Besides the location and width, it’s a turn-key property, which is what I think struck the state of Qatar,” Oren Alexander told The Real Deal. “They wanted something that was going to happen rather quickly, and everything else in terms of location or with the right width was a project, and they didn’t want a two- or three-year project. Foreigners especially don’t want to come to the States and go through the headache of hiring contractors and building something.”
Ahmed Yousef Al-Rumaihi, consul general for the state of Qatar, said in a statement provided to The Real Deal by the Alexander team that “this is a perfect choice for our consulate, given its location, size, layout and infrastructure. Other than very minor cosmetic changes we may make, it is in move-in condition.”
Qatari royals have been on somewhat of a buying binge in Manhattan over the last couple of years. In June 2013, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, the country’s former prime minister, paid $35 million for the Ellen Biddle Shipman townhouse at Beekman Place. And a year before that, he negotiated deals to buy about $250 million worth of apartments in Extell’s One57 tower.
The eleven-member Alexander Team also holds the listing for a $95 million, full-floor unit at the Sherry Netherland, which changed brokers earlier this month, a $58 million listing in the Hamptons and two Long Island Gold Coast estates that are listed for $15 million and $8 million respectively.