Board approved: San Remo

A boldly designed building known for its embrace of celebrities in past, is now home to titans of capitalism

Mar.March 07, 2017 10:00 AM

The San Remo splits into two towers at the 18th floor, crowned by 22-foot-high copper lanterns.

On the Upper East Side, the relatively unremarkable façades of Fifth and Park Avenue apartment buildings reflect a Waspish embargo on the discussion of money. But on the Upper West Side, where new money allowed for architectural displays of splendor, many of the best buildings (like the Dakota) are almost entirely hidden behind the tree line of Central Park. In comparison to that quiet wealth, the San Remo on Central Park West is a loud exception.


And so the San Remo’s unique profile on the park makes it the subject of the latest edition of our Board Approved series, which opens the doors of the city’s most prestigious buildings.

The building’s individuality, its willingness to boast, is also reflected in its high-profile residents. And while the building still carries a reputation as a celebrity oasis on the park, our analysis of its residents shows that in recent years, it has been moving away from celebrity and toward buyers with cold, hard capital.

Built in 1929 by celebrated city architect Emery Roth, the 28-story twin towers were a bold proclamation of urban affluence with architectural references both modern and classical. For more than half a century, the matching spires, based on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, dominated Central Park’s skyline.

Perhaps more than any other building on Central Park West, the San Remo is associated with celebrities — and for good reason. The board is said to be one of the most lenient on either side of the park, and past residents include Steve Jobs, Barry Manilow, Stephen Sondheim, Tiger Woods, Steven Spielberg, Donna Karan, Glenn Close, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Martin, Bruce Willis, Diane Keaton and Rita Hayworth, to name a few.

It seems that Madonna was the only A-lister to have been turned away. The board shot her down in July 1985 when she attempted to buy a 12-room apartment for $1.2 million; it was the same month nude photos of the singer appeared in Playboy. Diane Keaton was the only one who voted to let her in after her board interview, where Madonna appeared in a little black dress with two gold crucifixes around her neck, as Steven Gaines recalled in his book “The Sky’s the Limit.”

Bennett Goodman, Cesar Pelli, Roger and Stacey Silverstein

“If we let her in, we’d have to let everyone in,” one board member told the New York Daily News at the time.

With the notable exceptions of U2 frontman Bono, who bought in one of the building’s towers from Steve Jobs, actress Demi Moore, and Diane Keaton, who hasn’t actually lived in her triplex apartment in nearly a decade, few boldface names still call the building home.

Today, Wall Street is king in the San Remo, with anonymous capitalists filling the building’s duplexes. Take Bennett Goodman, a co-founder of GSO Capital Partners, which Blackstone Group purchased for $620 million. He bought a pair of apartments on the 19th and 20th floors for $14.5 million and $15.5 million, respectively, in 2011.

And again, just last year, Goldman Sachs bigwig David Solomon sold his San Remo duplex to JLL managing director and private-equity honcho Brett Milgrim for $21.5 million.

Other nabobs of the financial world in the building include hedge funder-turned-juice-mogul Michael Karsch, money manager Peter Marber, Odyssey Investment Partners principal Doug Hitchner and investment banker Raymond McGuire. And considering the size of the San Remo, this is really to name a few.

Naturally, we found the odd lesser-known artist and entertainer in the building, and units purchased many years ago do not appear in public records. So there could very well be a celebrity hiding in Roth’s iconic towers. But, by and large, the building’s celebrity heyday seems to be over.

Here is a look at who really calls the San Remo home.

Price paid: $14.5M

Sunglasses-clad rocker and activist Bono owns one of the building’s best units. He bought in the building’s north tower in April 2003 from Apple founder Steve Jobs. But Bono hasn’t always been the best neighbor. In 2007 he complained that smoke from the building’s fireplaces was wafting into his penthouse, leading the co-op board to ban the use of fireplaces. The move led to a revolt among residents who enjoyed this rare amenity.

Demi Moore
Asking price: $59M

In 1990, Demi Moore bought in the building’s south tower penthouse with her then-beau, Bruce Willis, from media mogul Robert Stigwood. It was the same year her movie “Ghost” grossed over $500 million at the box office and it seems she was on a high, because she also bought a lobby-level, two-bedroom maisonette. In 2015, Moore, who lives in L.A., slapped the triplex back on the market with a $75 million price tag. She is now asking a less ambitious $59 million.

Michael Karsch
Price paid: Unknown

In 2013, Michael Karsch closed his Karsch Capital Management hedge fund, which at its peak held assets of $3.4 billion. He then took his career in a very different direction, investing in a chain of juice bars with professional Muay Thai boxer Marcus Antebi. Juice Press was valued $100 million in 2015.

Bennett and Margaret Goodman
Price paid: $30M

Bennett Goodman is the founder of GSO Capital Partners, which Blackstone Group purchased for $620 million. He bought a pair of apartments for $30 million in 2011. Real estate mogul Richard Smith was the seller. Bennett Goodman is on the board of Lincoln Center.

James Nederlander and Margo MacNabb, John Zeiler Carter, and Stephanie McClelland

César Pelli
Price paid: $17.5M

César Pelli is an influential Argentine-American architect who designed the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the world’s tallest towers until 2004, and the World Financial Center in Manhattan. His wife, Diana Balmori, founder of Balmori Associates, an important landscape and urban design firm, died in 2016.

Roger And Stacey Silverstein
Price paid: Unknown

Roger Silverstein is the son of World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein. He is an executive vice president at his father’s firm. Tabloids have reported he is known to moonlight as a nightclub DJ at the Meatpacking District club Provocateur under the alias of Roger Silver.

Kevin and Karen Kennedy
Price paid: Unknown

Kevin Kennedy, now retired, led Goldman Sachs’ Latin American group. He is a former president and CEO of the Metropolitan Opera board and a former chairman of Hamilton College’s board of trustees. Karen Kennedy is a retired pediatrician who serves on boards for Columbia University Medical Center and the Whitney Museum.

James Nederlander and Margo MacNabb
Price Paid: $13.5M

James Nederlander is a Broadway theatre owner, producer and president of the Nederlander Organization. He is also a minority owner of the New York Yankees and Florida Panthers. Margo MacNabb is a vice president of the charity organiztion Citymeals-on-Wheels.

John Zeiler
Price paid: $5.2M

John Zeiler is the CEO and a founding member of Hudson Housing Capital, a financial-services company. He is a director of the Police Athletic League of New York and is a founding director of Our Place Theatre in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He purchased his apartment from pop singer Jennifer Rush.

Carter and Stephanie McClelland
Price Paid: Unknown

Stephanie McClelland founded Green Curtain Productions, a theatrical production company, which has presented acclaimed shows like “An American In Paris” and “The Color Purple.” Carter McClelland is the chairman of Union Square Advisors, an investment bank.

Misha and Cipa Dichter
Price Paid: Unknown

Misha Dichter is a classical pianist who was born in Shanghai to Polish-Jewish parents who fled Europe at the outbreak of WWII. He has won the Grand Prix International Du Disque Liszt. Cipa Dichter is also a classical pianist. The couple met at Julliard and frequently perform together.

Mary Wallach
Price paid: $12.6M

Mary Wallach is the widow of James Wallach, the head of Central National-Gottesman, a pulp, paper and newsprint marketing concern. She is a director of the Miriam G. and Ira D. Wallach Foundation. Mary Wallach purchased the apartment of the late Broadway lyricist Fred Ebb, best known for ”Cabaret” and ”Chicago.”

Solange Landau
Price paid: $6.6M

Socialite art dealer Solange Landau lived in a three-bedroom duplex in the Beresford for 27 years before selling to hedge-fund manager William Ackman for $26 million. Landau downsized into a six-room apartment on the San Remo’s 21st floor that she purchased from actress Mary Tyler Moore.

Kay Koplovitz
Price paid: Unknown

Kay Koplovitz founded the USA Network. She was the first woman to serve as network president in television history. In April 2014, she joined the board of Time Inc., the publishing arm of Time Warner. She has also sat on the boards of Kate Spade and Liz Claiborne.

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