Here are the 5 biggest winners in the luxury resale market

TRD identifies the NYC sellers who profited most from their condo bets
By Katherine Clarke and E.B. Solomont | August 28, 2017 07:30AM

The 5 biggest winners in the luxury resale market

If the Plaza did a poor job of holding its value for investors, 15 Central Park West, which debuted around the same time, did the exact opposite.

Overall, owners at the building amassed profits far more often than their counterparts at any other Manhattan building over the last decade, an analysis by The Real Deal shows. In fact, the 29 most profitable resales of the last decade were all at 15 CPW.

While former Citigroup chairman Sandy Weill was the biggest winner, selling to Ekaterina Rybolovleva — the daughter of Russian business mogul Dmitry Rybolovlev — in 2012 for $44.3 million more than he paid in 2007, he wasn’t the only one who made out handsomely.

William Lie Zeckendorf, whose Zeckendorf Development built the tower, took in the second most of any Manhattan seller during the 10-year stretch when he nearly quadrupled his money on his personal penthouse at the Robert A.M. Stern-designed tower.

He bought the unit for $10.9 million in 2008 and then flipped it for $40 million to Min Kao, co-founder of the tech company Garmin, in 2011.

The estate of pharmaceutical mogul Richard Ullman was next on the 15 CPW profit gravy train, making the third-highest overall return in Manhattan during the last decade. The condo sold for $48 million in 2014, a massive $24.1 million markup on Ullman’s $23.9 million purchase in 2008. (However, the next owner, an LLC linked to a Thai company, took a $3 million loss on its 2015 sale.)

Casino mogul Richard Fields didn’t do too shabbily, either. In June 2008, he forked over $13.6 million for a 15 CPW unit. Six months later, he recouped his investment — and then some — when he sold the pad for $27 million, or almost double what he had just paid.

And Spanx founder Sara Blakely and her husband sold their 37th-floor 15 CPW property in mid-2014 — at the peak of the condo craze — for $30 million, 148 percent more than the $12.1 million they paid in 2008. That made the couple the sixth-biggest winners of the last decade.

Were these (a) smart investments, (b) lucky gambles, (c) impeccably timed deals or (d) all of the above? The right answer: (d).

While the earliest buyers and the developers’ friends no doubt capitalized on “friends and family” prices, many were also savvy enough to ride out the market.

“They were less likely to sell when the market plummeted,” said Dan Levy, founder of CityRealty.

But it wasn’t only 15 CPW sellers — or those at the tippy top of the luxury market — who timed the market flawlessly.

Across town, real estate scion Adam Rose, who heads Rose Associates with his cousin Amy, sold his penthouse at 240 Park Avenue South for $16 million in late 2014 — nearly $8 million more than he paid in 2008.

Rose — who characterized the price he got as “rather amazing” — said he sold because he wanted to live in Westchester full time. “I achieved that price because it was hugely custom work that was never intended to be sold,” he said. “No one should build at that level. Trust me.”

By the way,” he added, “it was a two-bedroom apartment that I sold for $16 million. Pretty crazy!”

Some brokers pointed out that in addition to making a premium on their raw purchase prices, some foreign buyers are also benefiting from favorable exchange rates — even on lower-end, less-flashy deals.

Platinum Properties CEO Khashy Eyn, for example, said he worked with a European investor who bought a 15 William Street penthouse in the Financial District for $2.8 million in 2009 and sold for $4.5 million in 2016.

“The exchange on currency alone made them anywhere from 30 percent to 40 percent return on their money,” Eyn said.