The Real Deal New York

Macklowe’s property empire is in the toilet — at least according to his divorce lawyers

At stake in the case is an estimated $2B fortune
By E.B. Solomont | September 13, 2017 07:10PM

Harry Macklowe and 200 East 59th Street

With a $2 billion fortune at stake, attorneys for Harry Macklowe threw a few of his condominium projects under the bus at the divorce trial Wednesday for the developer and his wife Linda.

His 65-unit project at 200 East 59th Street? Just three units are in contract after nearly a year of sales. 432 Park Avenue? It has 27,000 square feet of below-grade retail and just one tenant after years of marketing.

Those details and others were disclosed during a cross-examination of the appraisal expert called by Linda Macklowe’s team. John Feeney, co-head of Cushman & Wakefield’s multifamily valuation team, said 432 Park was worth $2.4 billion as of June 30, 2016. The developer’s office-to-residential conversion at 1 Wall Street was worth $1.9 billion. And a leasehold at 310 East 53rd Street is worth $28 million.

Appearing in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday, the Macklowes barely exchanged glances as they sat across a table from each other, flanked by lawyers. Linda Macklowe, dressed in black, wore her thin gold wedding band. Harry appeared with a canvas tote slung over his shoulder, emblazoned with his company’s logo in vivid orange. At times, he appeared to be sketching on a notepad during the proceedings.

At stake in the Macklowe divorce is a vast real estate portfolio and expensive art collection, as well as a $41 million yacht and a $100 million apartment at the Plaza.

With no prenup, Harry Macklowe said he offered his soon-to-be-ex $1 billion to walk — a claim she refutes. When the trial started last week, however, Macklowe claimed that his personal net worth is negative $400 million — thanks to deferred capital gains taxes from the sale of the GM Building in 2008 for $2.9 billion. Linda Macklowe said his debts are the result of not paying taxes since 1983.

While Linda has been eager to prove Harry is no pauper, the developer’s attorney claims she spent $10 million between June 2016 and July 2017, including a $2.7 million painting and $145,000 on art consultants. (She also paid lawyers $7.25 million.)

Macklowe’s prized 432 Park didn’t escape his lawyer’s analysis. Peter Bronstein gleefully pointed to retail vacancies along 57th Street in an attempt to cast a shadow on the prospects of leasing up the tower’s 27,000 square feet of retail, including an underground concourse. Bronstein noted that Feeney’s appraisal assumed the retail portion would have a 2 percent vacancy rate — when to date, only one tenant has signed on.