Board Approved: 720 Park Avenue
The elite co-op checks all the boxes for the city's movers and shakers in the worlds of art and finance
Park Avenue location? Check. Rosario Candela design? Check. Average apartment price over $20 million? Check, check and check. In our latest edition of Board Approved, our series that sneaks past the doorman to give you a peek inside Manhattan’s most important buildings, LLNYC unmasks the residents of one of the avenue’s most venerable addresses, 720 Park.
Built in 1928, 720 rose during the avenue’s heyday, when prestigious neighbors like 740 Park were also rising. The 29-unit building boasts a neo-Georgian façade, generous Candela floor plans and the kind of fussy, aristocratic finishes that you just can’t find in today’s condos.
Since the day it opened its doors it has attracted Manhattan’s elite (e.g.: Jesse Straus, co-owner of Macy’s, who served as the United States ambassador to France, was an early resident). Billionaires, sports team owners, hedge funders, ambassadors and political influencers have called the building home, each leaving an enduring imprint on it.
For instance, when former residents Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel (a Clinton White House appointee) and Patti Kenner hosted a series of Clinton fundraisers in their apartment mansions, the co-op board went bananas, and it’s reportedly been a stickler about fundraising inside its doors ever since.
“They [the board members] must have a good reason to make that decision,” Ellen Graham, a former resident, told the New York Post in 2000. “This is the best-run building in New York and they want to protect the tenants. Political fundraisers have no place in a private building. I find it very creepy to have men with guns in the lobby … Besides, anything to keep the Clintons out!”
But this kind of publicity is unusual for the building. In fact, any activity is rare, with just a handful of units there trading in the last decade (this is in contrast to its neighbor at 740, where a fire, lawsuits and poor sales have kept the building in the news). There is only one unit on the market currently, an 11-room showstopper that’s asking $28 million. The apartment has never been identified in public records, and few would have ever known it existed had the elderly executive who called it home for decades not recently passed away. It got us digging, and here is what we found.
Edward and Betsy Cohen
Price paid: Unknown
The Cohens are a prominent Philadelphia family, with investments in natural gas, banking and real estate. They sold their energy companies for $7.7 billion in 2015. Edward Cohen often speaks Latin on earnings calls and is an adjunct professor of classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Betsy Cohen is the retired founder of The Bancorp, an online commercial bank, as well as RAIT Financial Trust, a $10 billion real estate investment trust. In 2015, she was named an honorary trustee at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Martin and Audrey Butvay Gruss
Price paid: Unknown
Martin is an executive at the private investment firm Gruss & Company. Audrey Butvay Gruss is a philanthropist and the founder and chair of the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, which funds scientific research on depression and other emotional disorders. They are staples of Hamptons society.
Taki Theodoracopulos and Alexandra Schoenburg-Hartenstein
Price paid: $3.8 million
Taki Theodoracopulos is a Greek journalist and author. He is a fixture of Manhattan society and writes for the Upper East Side lifestyle magazine Quest as well as myriad right-wing publications. In 2002, he founded The American Conservative magazine with Pat Buchanan and Scott McConnell. He also publishes on a website called Taki’s Magazine. He married HRH Princess Alexandra Schoenburg-Hartenstein of Austria in 1981.
Leonard and Louise Riggio
Price paid: Unknown
Leonard Riggio is the founder and former chairman of Barnes & Noble and has been its largest shareholder since purchasing the company in 1971. He retired last year. Riggio is also a philanthropist and arts patron; he has built more than 100 homes for victims of Hurricane Katrina and supports New York University and the Dia Art Foundation, to which he has given at least $30 million. Louise Riggio is on the board of the Equestrian Aid Foundation, which helps people in crisis in the horse world. The couple has an impressive modern art collection.
Price paid: $19.3 million
Scott Bessent is a former Soros Fund Management executive who was once known as the protégé of George Soros. He managed foreign investments for Soros Asset Management. In 2015 he started Key Square Group, a hedge fund, with $2 billion from Soros.
Mark and Lorry Newhouse
Price paid: Unkown
Mark Newhouse is an executive with Advance Publications, the parent company of Condé Nast and more than 30 newspapers, which is owned by his family. Lorry Newhouse is a fashion designer who launched her eponymous label in 2012.
Price paid: $21.9 million
The ex-wife of billionaire and New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch, Jamie Tisch invests in fashion and is a noted philanthropist. She co-founded the Women’s Cancer
Research Fund, which has raised more than $70 million for medical research.
Peter and Jill Kraus
Price paid: $36.6 million
Peter Kraus was chairman and CEO of AllianceBernstein, a global asset management firm with nearly half a trillion dollars in assets. The couple was named one of the “world’s top 200 art collectors” by ARTnews. Jill is the chair of the Public Art Fund, a nonprofit arts organization.
Steven and Lisa Tananbaum
Price paid: $23 million
Steven Tananbaum is a founding partner at GoldenTree Asset Management, which has
$25 billion in assets. He and his wife have appeared on ARTnews’s list of top 200 collectors several times; as philanthropists, they support art, Jewish and health causes.
Price paid: Unknown
Randy Lerner is the billionaire ex-owner of the Cleveland Browns and the English soccer club Aston Villa F.C. He supports the U.K.’s National Portrait Gallery and Cambridge University’s Clare College. He owns a shopping complex near his vacation home in Amagansett.