Board approved: Who are the distinguished residents of River House?

TRD New York /
Feb.February 25, 2016 12:42 PM

LLNYC is happy to announce the launch of a new series in which we look at the boldface names living in Manhattan’s most prestigious and exclusive buildings. We begin with River House, at 435 East 52nd Street.

Known for its strict co-op board, this 26-story building was named Manhattan’s most prestigious residence by CityRealty.

Erected in 1931, the Art Deco tower attracted the cream of New York society with its unparalleled amenities, which included a pier where residents could dock their yachts. The pier later gave way to the construction of FDR Drive. But other amenities have survived, including the cobblestone courtyard and the building’s private sports club, River House. In recent years, the co-op attempted to sell the five-story clubhouse as one massive apartment for $130 million but the plan was scrapped when the club’s management agreed in 2014 to pay $45 million for the space, which it had been leasing from the building.

The building has a reputation for severely scrutinizing its applicants and the board famously rejected Gloria Vanderbilt in 1980. It has also rejected Richard Nixon, Diane Keaton and Joan Crawford to name a few. So who is good enough to get in?

River House’s residents currently include notables such as Henry Kissinger, Uma Thurman, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and a descendent of one of the Dutch merchants who founded the Dutch West India Company.

Here is a look at some of the current residents who call River House home. (Source: Property Shark and published news articles).

Henry and Nancy Kissinger

Unit price: Undisclosed

Henry Kissinger is the German-born diplomat, author and 1973 Nobel Peace Prize recipient who served as National Security Advisor in the Nixon and Ford administrations. In 1982, he established Kissinger Associates, a political consultancy. He is married to Nancy Sharon Maginnes.

Nancy Sharon Maginnes Kissinger is a philanthropist and the second wife of Henry Kissinger. They have been married since 1974. She worked as a researcher for Nelson Rockefeller. She received a BA from Mount Holyoke College in 1955.


Manuel and Corina Ulivi Balbontín

Unit price: $11,650,000

Manuel Balbontín is a Chilean-born, New York-based asset manager who specializes in emerging markets. As of 2016, he served as president and senior investment strategist of Compass Group, an asset management firm he founded in 1995. As of 2015, Compass Group has $31 billion in assets under management. His professional experience includes stints at Banco Santander in New York and Citicorp. Balbontín received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor´s degree in business administration from The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile). Balbontín and his wife, Corina Ulivi Balbontín, have three children.


Jacques and Anne Stillman Nordeman

Unit price: $2,150,000


Jacques Nordeman is a New York-based executive recruiter and Broadway producer. He is the chairman and co-founder of Nordeman Grimm, an executive search firm with clients spanning Wall Street and the non-profit sector. He is married to Anne Stillman Nordeman.

From 1959 to 1962, Nordeman served in the Navy as an officer on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. He received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Colgate University.

Anne Stillman Nordeman is the director of admissions at St. Bernard’s School, the private all-boys elementary school on East 98th Street.

William and Joan Fishlinger

Unit price: $8,400,000

William Fishlinger is an insurance industry executive, a philanthropist and a lawyer by training. He is the founder of two insurance companies: the Wright Insurance Group and WRM.

Joan Fishlinger is a corporate executive and philanthropist. Her professional experience includes stints as chief information officer at WRM America Holdings and vice president at Wright Risk Management.

Together, they have established two foundations that share a mission to help young people overcome health and education obstacles: the Future Leadership Foundation and the Fishlinger Family Foundation.

The Fishlingers divide their time between River House and a house in Manhasset.


Alexander and Mary Norman-Navab

Price unit: $4,900,000 (the couple own multiple units in the building)

Alexander Navab, who goes by Alex, is a New York-based private equity executive and a philanthropist. As of 2016, he was a partner at private equity firm KKR (formerly known as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.), which specializes in leveraged buyouts.

He joined the firm in 1993 and runs its North American buyout operations. From 1989 to 1993, he worked on M&A and corporate finance advisory at James D. Wolfensohn Incorporated. From 1987 to 1989, he worked in the investment banking department at Goldman Sachs. He received a MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Columbia University.

Alex and his wife Mary Norman-Navab divide their time between River House and a three-story, $12 million house in Southampton.


Christopher Toub and Firoozeh Foulon

Unit price: $10,100,000

Christopher Toub, who goes by Chris, is a wealth management executive and former trader. He is married to Firoozeh Foulon. As of 2016, Toub served as the director of equity at AllianceBernstein, a wealth management firm he joined in 1992. Toub received an MBA from Harvard Business School 1987 and a BA from Williams College in 1982.


Wilbur and Hilary Geary Ross

Unit price: $8,500,000

Wilbur Ross Jr. is a billionaire who made his fortune investing in distressed assets. His professional experience includes a stint working for the Rothschild family. He struggled for nearly two decades to get into the building. 

Ross is married to Hilary Geary Ross, a writer for Quest magazine. She volunteers for the Central Park Conservancy and the Boys Club of New York. She is also the author of the 2014 coffee table book, “Palm Beach People.”

The couple divide their time between Manhattan and a home in Southampton.


Brook and Taube Ferebee

Unit price: $4,000,000

Brook Taube is a hedge fund manager and amateur violinist. He and his twin brother Seth took over Medley Capital from the late Richard Medley, an advisor to George Soros, and run it with a third partner, Andrew Fentress.

Ferebee Taube, née Bishop, is a former public relations executive and the co-founder of online fashion and interior design site FEYT. She received a BA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001 and majored in political science and government. Taube and her husband Brook have three sons, Bishop, Stephen Ford, and Clarke. They divide their time between River House and a house in Millbrook.


Charles III and Lisa Hughes 

Unit price: $3,200,000

Charles B. Hughes III is a venture capitalist and private equity executive. He is the managing director and general counsel at Easton Capital Investment Group, a venture capital firm. He received a JD from the University Of Virginia School of Law, an LLM (Taxation) from New York University School of Law and a bachelor of arts degree from Princeton University.

He is married to Lisa Hughes, an executive at magazine publisher Condé Nast and former advertising director. Lisa is the vice president and publisher of The New Yorker. She studied fine arts at Harvard University and is an alumna of St. Paul’s School, a boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire.


Catherine Blair

Unit price: undisclosed

Catherine Blair, née Gerlach and who goes by Deeda, is a philanthropist involved in cancer, AIDS, and other medical research. The late William McCormick Blair, Jr., who served as ambassador to Denmark and to the Philippines, was her second husband. Her first marriage to Charles Clarke Jelke, whose family made its fortune in margarine, ended in divorce. Lynn Forrester is a friend. The New York Times toured her River House spread here.


Uma Thurman

Unit price: $10,000,000

Uma Thurman is an actress known for films such as Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill I and II. Thurman purchased his 13-room apartment in River House from romance novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford. The apartment has two wood-burning fireplaces, three maid’s rooms, and an eat-in kitchen, plus a bar, library, sitting room, dining room and separate laundry room.


Linda Pilaro

Unit price: $3,900,000

No information available.


Lorenzo Lorenzotti and Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti

Unit price: $8,888,888

Lorenzo Lorenzotti is a Wall Street executive and lawyer by training. Since 2011, he has served as managing director of Papamarkou Wellner. Lorenzotti received a JD from Pace University School of Law in 1991 and an undergraduate degree from Boston University in 1986 and is an alumnus of two New York private schools, Browning School and St. David’s School.

Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti is a reality show personality, the founder of two online fashion start-ups and a former financial analyst for Lazard Freres & Co. She attended Columbia University’s Barnard College and was born in Beirut to Swiss parents.


Richard Eaton and Susan Henshaw Jones

Unit price: $3,325,000

Richard Eaton, born in 1948, is a federal judge. He serves as senior judge on the United States Court of International Trade. He is married to Susan Henshaw Jones, a museum director and the founder of a nonprofit that promoted public art.

Susan Henshaw Jones career includes stints leading the New York Landmarks Conservancy, National Building Museum in Washington, DC, and the Museum of the City of New York. The couple divide their time between River House and a home in Key West.


John Freeland

Unit price: $6,000,000

John Freeland is a corporate executive, former management consultant, and the former chief executive of market research firm Information Resources (formerly known as SymphonyIRI Group, Inc.). His professional experience includes 26 years at Accenture (formerly Arthur Anderson).


Vivien Wyser-Pratte

Unit price: $8,699,292

Vivien Wyser-Pratte is the ex-wife of Guy Wyser-Pratte, a Wall Street investor who specializes in buying troubled companies using debt.


Mark and Kirsten Cunha
Unit price: $7,100,000

Mark Cunha is a New York-based lawyer at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. He received a JD from Stanford Law School in 1980 and a bachelor of arts degree from Cornell University in 1977. Since 2007, he has been married to Kirsten Nelson.

Kirsten Cunha, née Nelson, is a lawyer at Shearman and Sterling and practices in the firm’s litigation group.


Harrison and Leslie Bains

Unit price:  $6,357,000

Harrison Bains is an executive who spent stints with Chase Manhattan Bank, Bristol-Myers Squibb and RJR Nabisco. Bains received an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley and a BA from the University of Redlands, where he majored in economics.

Leslie Bains is a private banking executive and wealth manager, who has worked at Citibank, HSBC and a boutique private bank called Modern Bank. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Stephen O’Neil

Unit price: $5,425,000


Stephen O’Neil a former president and vice chairman of the City Investing Company, is a partner in the New York law firm of Mishkin, O’Neil. In 2013, his wife Celeste Cheatham O’Neil passed. She was the chairwoman of the Owen Cheatham Foundation

The foundation O’Neil chaired, the Owen Cheatham Foundation, was established by her maternal grandfather in 1934 and lent out its jewel collection to other charitable, educational and cultural organizations, so they could raise funds by exhibiting the jewels.


Roy Molitor Ford

Unit price: $4,250,000

Roy Molitor Ford may refer to either a father or a son with the same name, both of whom are principals at a small local bank network in Tennessee. The son, who goes by Mott Ford, is the vice chairman and chief executive officer of Commercial Bank & Trust. His father, R. Molitor Ford, acquired the bank in 1983 with a partner, William W. Deupree.


Narayanan Krishnamurthy

Unit price: $5,200,000


Narayanan Krishnamurthy, who goes by Nandu, is a hedge fund manager. As of 2016, he served as a portfolio manager at Trident Performance Corp, a hedge fund he co-founded in 1998. His career has included stints at Credit Suisse Asset Management, Caxton Corporation, and Tiger Management. Narayanan holds a PhD in finance and international economics and a master’s degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has a bachelor’s degree with a double major in economics and computer science from Yale University.

Mark Ellman and Nancy Lieberman

Unit price: $3,875,000

Mark Ellman is the founder and principal of real estate investment firm Celestial Capital Group.

Nancy Lieberman is a New York-based lawyer, whose practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions, restructurings, and corporate governance. As of 2016, she was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. A skiing accident in 2007 left her a quadriplegic.


William and Joan Fishlinger
Unit price: $8,400,000

William Fishlinger is an insurance industry executive, a philanthropist and a lawyer by training. He is the founder of two insurance company, the Wright Insurance Group and WRM.

Joan Fishlinger is a corporate executive and philanthropist. Her professional experience includes stints as chief information officer at WRM America Holdings, vice president at Wright Risk Management.

The couple divides their time between River House and a house in Manhasset. They have established two foundations, the Future Leadership Foundation and the Fishlinger Family Foundation.


Jeffrey Leeds and Elizabeth Marshall

Unit price: $10,000,000

Jeffrey Leeds is the co-founder of private equity firm Leeds Equity Partners. He established the firm with Robert Bernstein in 1993. Leeds spent 7 years working as an investment banker for Lazard Frères & Co., where he specialized in M&A and corporate finance advisory. From 1985 to 1986, clerked for the Hon. William J. Brennan, Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Leeds received a JD from Harvard Law School, a BA from Yale University, and attended Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar. He married Elizabeth Sunderland Marshall, an NGO sector executive, in 2012.

Elizabeth Marshall is a non-profit sector executive who spent time working as director of strategic planning for Common Good, an organization that advocates for reform in the legal and government sectors. Marshall received a degree from Columbia University’s Barnard College.
Barry and Paula Downing

Unit price:  $6,650,000

Barry Downing is the president and chief executive of Northrock, a Wichita, Kansas-based company that invests in the real estate and healthcare sectors. Downing is a donor to the Wichita Art Museum in Kansas. He and his wife Paula M. Downing have established a charitable foundation, The Downing Foundation.


Hubert Bush III and Douglas Cramer

Unit price: $3,700,000

Hubert Bush III, who goes by Hugh, is a writer and painter. He is in a long-term relationship with television producer Douglas Cramer. Bush and Cramer own a collection of modern art estimated to be worth $100 million as well as multiple homes.

Douglas Cramer has worked at Proctor & Gamble, 20th Century-Fox, Paramount, ABC Television, with Aaron Spelling, and as an independent producer. His production portfolio includes “The Brady Bunch,” “Mission: Impossible,” “The Odd Couple,” “Dynasty” and
The Love Boat.”


Jeremy and Margaret Jacobs

Unit price: $10,350,000

Jeremy Jacobs is the owner of the Boston Bruins, an NHL ice hockey team, the chairman of the hotel, food and gambling conglomerate Delaware North, and a philanthropist. His net worth is estimated at $4 billion. He and his wife, Margaret, have six children.


Carole Parsons Bailey

Unit price: $4,775,000


Carole Parsons Bailey is a philanthropist and the widow of William O. Bailey, a C-suite level executive in the insurance and financial guarantee industries. Bailey’s husband, who died in 2005 at the age of 78, enjoyed a five-decade career that included running Hartford-based Aetna Life & Casualty Company, MBIA, Terra Nova Reinsurance (London).

Bailey is a donor to the Frick.


Rosalind Walter

Unit price: $7,700,000

Rosalind Walter is a philanthropist and the widow of Henry Walter, an artificial flavor and fragrance tycoon. She was the WWII airplane factory worker who inspired the song “Rosie the Riveter.”

She is the daughter of Carleton H. Palmer, who ran E.R. Squibb & Sons, a predecessor firm to pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb. Despite her family’s wealth, Walter worked the night shift making fighter planes during WWII. She attended LIU Post (the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University) and is an alumna of Ethel Walker, a private all-girls school in Simsbury, Connecticut.


Kiliaen Van Rensselaer

Unit price: $3,200,000

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer is a television-programming executive, the heir to a boutique gourmet grocery store fortune, and the descendent of one of the Dutch merchants who founded the Dutch West India Company. Since 2015, Van Rensselaer has run his own Los Angeles-based studio, Insurrection Media. Previously, he worked as senior vice president of original digital programming at Fox Broadcasting and in marketing and business development at News Corp., after Rupert Murdoch’s company acquired an e-reader business Van Rensselaer had helped launch. His career also includes stints working in the marking departments of Cingular Wireless and Heinz Corporation in Cleveland. He is an alumnus of the all-boys Fairfield Country Day School in Connecticut.


Alan and Ellen Meckler

Unit price: $6,262,000

Alan Meckler is a tech and media entrepreneur and a millionaire, who has overcome dyslexia to achieve wealth and success. His career includes stints running Jupitermedia, WebMediaBrands, Mediabistro, and Mecklermedia Corporation. He and his wife Ellen have a daughter, Kate, a real estate agent in New York, and a son John, who invests in 3D printing technology. Meckler received a PhD and a BA from Columbia University.

Ellen Meckler is the wife of tech and media entrepreneur Alan Meckler and the daughter of Nathan Finkelstein, the Glemby beauty salon tycoon. Meckler’s daughter Kate is a real estate agent in New York. Her son, John, runs a fund that invests in 3D printing technology.


John De Neufville

Unit price:  $5,150,000

Brian O’Neill

Unit price: Undisclosed

Brian O’Neill is a lawyer and author of “Half a Wing, Three Engines and a Prayer,” a book about WWII pilots. As of 2016, he was in private practice, specializing in immigration matters. His career includes stints working in the legal department of New Jersey-based airplane manufacturer Curtiss-Wright Corporation and for Philadelphia law firm Rawle & Henderson. He received a JD from Rutgers-Camden School of Law in 1977 and a BA from the University of Maryland in 1971, where he majored in government and politics. His father was a pilot and O’Neill spent his childhood moving around the US with stops in Italy and Germany.
Philip and Maya Bobbitt

Unit price: $7,000,000


Philip Bobbitt is a Texas-born constitutional law scholar, historian, university professor and the nephew of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Bobbitt teaches at Columbia Law School. From the mid-1980s to 2007, he taught constitutional law at the University of Texas. His career includes serving the Clinton, Bush Senior, and Carter administrations and clerking for Judge Henry Jacob Friendly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Bobbitt received an MA and a PhD in modern history from the University of Oxford in 1983. He received a JD from Yale Law School in 1975 and was article editor of the Yale Law Journal. He received a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1971. Bobbitt married Columbia Law School student Maya Ondalikoğlu in 2011. Justice Elena Kagan officiated the ceremony, which took place at the Supreme Court of the United States.

He has been called the “James Bond of Columbia Law School,” by the New York Observer.
“His mannerisms just kind of ooze a James Bondian kind of quality,” Vishal Agraharkar, a former [Legal Methods] student and a teaching assistant told the Observer. “Someone who acts like that in class and outside class we assumed must have just an incredible personal life. James Bond has a hell of a personal life, so he must as well.”

Maya Ondalikoğlu Bobbitt is an Istanbul, Turkey-born attorney who specializes in advising financial institutions. She also volunteers as a manager and advisor for microfinance-focused Grameen Bank. She works as an associate at law firm Vinson & Elkins. She received a JD from Columbia Law School in 2012, served as an editor of the Columbia Business Law Review, and was a Harlan Fiske Scholar. She received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. Bobbitt is fluent in Turkish and has a working knowledge of Arabic.

Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and Lynn Forester

Unit price: Undisclosed

Lynn Forester, also known as Lady de Rothschild, is an American businesswoman, political fundraiser, friend of Hillary Clinton, philanthropist, board member of about a dozen companies and organizations and a lawyer by training.

Forester serves as chief executive of E.L. Rothschild, an investment fund she established with her husband, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild. The fund’s holdings include a 25 percent stake in the Economist Group.

Forester received a JD from Columbia Law School and an undergraduate degree from Pomona College in Claremont, a town on the outskirts of Los Angeles. She grew up in New Jersey.  Her circle of friends and acquaintances includes poet Jorie Graham, Henry Kissinger, the Queen of England, Prince Philip, Tony Blair, Sting, Bono, and Carlos Slim.

Forester was independently wealthy before she met Rothschild. In the 1980s and 1990s, she made her fortune investing in cell phone businesses, initially working with telecom tycoon John Kluge.

Sir Evelyn de Rothschild is a scion of the Rothschild banking family. Rothschild sold his stake in the English branch of his family’s bank in 2007 and reinvested the capital into E.L. Rothschild.

Forester and Rothschild, who have an estimated net worth of $676 million, divide their time between River House, a home on Martha’s Vineyard, a townhouse in London and a country estate in Bedfordshire, in the English countryside.

Aaron Fleischman

Unit price:  $14,500,000

Aaron I. Fleischman is a Washington, DC-based lawyer and art collector. His career has included establishing his own practice and working as a partner at Edwards Wildman Palmer (which merged with Locke Lord in 2015). He received a LLB from Harvard Law School in 1963 and a BA from Trinity College in Connecticut in 1960.


Check out the other buildings in our series here:

Who lives at 740 Park Avenue?

Who lives at 834 Fifth Avenue?

Who lives at 960 Fifth Avenue?

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