“Among the clouds, at one thousand feet, exists an inner floating garden,” reads the first line of the Engel & Völkers Mercedes Berk team’s off-market listing at 432 Park Avenue.
The image seems out of place, borderline absurd, to pair with the rigidly square footprint and design of Harry Macklowe’s controversial supertall. But for the wealthy couple who bought the unfinished 79th floor for $59 million in 2016, that was the point.
The pair spent years transforming it into a homage to Japanese workmanship and culture. Now they are looking for a buyer.
The couple hired Hiroshi Sugimoto to build out the 8,000-square-foot box of raw space. Apparently sparing no expense, the acclaimed Japanese artist and architect imported specialty materials including weather-beaten stones from Kyoto, and old growth Canadian Hinoki Cypress wood.
He flew in artisans skilled in traditional, high-specialized Japanese building techniques such as the application of a lime-based plaster called shikkui, which is applied to walls horizontally by multiple craftsmen in simultaneous coordination.
“Everything has a meaning that’s in the apartment,” said Noel Berk, one of the listing agents. “It’s a piece of art to live in.”
The wood flooring in the condo’s master bedroom is hand-carved, the kitchen cabinets are made from hand-hammered metal, and the apartment is compartmentalized by floating walls allowing for the movement of the pendulum-laden tower.
Beyond materials and construction, Sugimoto designed the five-bedroom apartment to open into entertaining areas first, a traditional tearoom, then a large dining room, which includes a sushi bar that was manned by a chef Sugimoto personally selected for his clients, according to a profile by Architectural Record.
The architect also custom-designed furniture for every room and installed his artwork and photographs through the space in a series of site-specific installations.
But Berk said the apartment maintains a livable and comfortable atmosphere.
“It’s big enough to have huge parties and quiet enough to find a corner and read a book,” she said.
The intensive renovation finished in 2018 and now the owners, an American family who are “very serious collectors of contemporary Asian art,” are looking to sell the apartment because they’re moving too far away to keep it up, Berk said.
The broker worked with the sellers when they initially bought the unit in 2016. Now she and her team are beginning to show the apartment to a select pool of high-end brokers and art-world figures. She doesn’t have an asking price.
“We could not put a price on it,” said Berk, citing all the custom finishes and furnishings that would come with the sale. She also noted that Sugimoto hopes to have a relationship with a new owner.
A full-floor unit three flights up is asking for $90 million.
“The price will be determined by the person who walks in and says ‘This is my home and I want to live this way in New York City,’” Berk explained. “It’s for a unique buyer who’s looking for something very different.”
There’s been an uptick in off-market transactions in recent years. Several notable sales were handled without public listings over the last several months, including billionaire Vincent Viola’s Brooklyn Heights mansion.