The Real Deal New York

Arnold Penner buys Alexander Rovt’s UES townhouse for $19M

Billionaire fertilizer magnate gut-renovated his home in First French Empire style
By Rich Bockmann | March 02, 2017 01:50PM

232 East 63rd Street and Arnold Penner (Credit: Getty Images)

Arnold Penner bought Ukrainian-born billionaire Alexander Rovt’s Versailles-inspired townhouse on the Upper East Side for $18.5 million.

Penner, a director at United Capital Corporation and Philips International who also owns a stake in Terra Holdings, paid about $1,540 per square foot for the six-story townhouse at 232 East 63rd Street, property records show.

Rovt, who made his fortune in the fertilizer business in the former Soviet Union before pouring his money into real estate, bought the 12,000-square-foot 25-foot-wide home in 2008 for $6.96 million.

The property reportedly sat empty for years as Rovt embarked on a five-year, $18 million gut renovation of the building, completely redoing it in the First French Empire style with a master bedroom that recalls Napoleon’s at the Palace of Versailles.

Rovt reportedly flew in artisans from around the world, who adorned the bathrooms with hand-painted sinks and toilets, painted gold-leafed murals in The Billiards Room And Adorned The Place with white, pink, red, green and gold onyx tiles.

The home even features a rooftop garage, a unique amenity in the city considering Rovt had to get a special permit for a curb cut to create driveway.

The billionaire had originally listed the property for $27 million back in 2011, but it languished on the market, possibly due to its idiosyncratic design.

Neither Penner nor Rovt could be immediately reached for comment.

Penner’s Philips International, along with partner Norvin Properties, plans to convert the 15-story office building at 250 Church Street into a 107-unit residential property.

Penner’s son, Jonathan Penner, had previously sued his father and another investor in the property, Philips’ Philip Pilevsky, claiming the duo tricked him into selling his stake for just $300,000. Jonathan Penner later dropped the case.

Matthew Lesser at Leslie J. Garfield represented the seller in the off-market sale. Tom Wexler, also of Leslie J. Garfield, represented the buyer. The brokers declined to comment.