The resi world reacts to Ken Griffin’s record-setting buy at 220 CPS

Experts see $238M deal as more of a one-off than a resurgence of New York’s super luxury market

Ken Griffin and 220 Central Park South
Ken Griffin and 220 Central Park South

UPDATED, January 24, at 3:20 p.m. EST:  Billionaire hedge funder Ken Griffin’s record-breaking purchase of a penthouse at 220 Central Park South is both a strong sign of confidence in New York’s real estate market and an exceptionally rare type of purchase that won’t happen again anytime soon, experts say.

“It’s a massive deal in size and price, but it’s an outlier,” said broker Jeffrey Fields of R New York. “It doesn’t reflect market conditions—far from it.”

Griffin, founder of the hedge fund the Citadel, just closed on his $238 million purchase of the 23,000-square-foot quadplex, which spans the 50th through 53rd floors of the Vornado Realty Trust tower. He went into contract for it back in 2015.

Deborah Kern and Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group represented Vornado in the deal, while Tal and Oren Alexander of Douglas Elliman represented Griffin.

Jonathan Miller, founder of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, said it was more reflective of the market back then than of the current market.

“This doesn’t represent the super luxury market today,” he said. “This is a sale from the past that’s closing today.”

The deal also doesn’t indicate a widespread resurgence of the super luxury market, he added, but does illustrate that there is still demand for properties worth more than $100 million. He predicted these types of deals would become more common moving forward.

“Five years from now, I think we’ll be jaded,” he said. “You’ll read about $100 million transactions, and it will become less of a novelty than it is right now.”

Griffin’s Central Park South deal set a record for the priciest home ever sold in the United States, but it’s just the latest astounding real estate purchase he’s made in this cycle. He’s something of a real estate addict. Griffin has also purchased a house in London for about $122 million and several floors of the Chicago condominium No. 9 Walton for $58.75 million. The hedge funder set a Miami record in 2015 when he spent $60 million on a penthouse at Faena House.

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Andy Gerringer from the Marketing Directors said the purchases suggest that real estate is still a smart bet.

“You don’t spend that type of capital if you think the real estate markets are going into a free fall,” he said.

Jeff Hyland, president of luxury brokerage Hilton & Hyland in Beverly Hills, said that billionaire buyers like Griffin are divorced from “aspirational buyers” of other super-expensive homes whose decision-making is still affected by the stock market or gyrations in the global economy. “This strata is its own planet,” Hyland said.

The Griffin sale far exceeds anything recorded in Los Angeles, where about two dozen homes are available, either publicly or off-market, with price tags of $100 million or more. The record in L.A. was the $110 million sale last year of the Malibu beachfront estate of Hard Rock Cafe founder Peter Morton.

Homes that could break Morton’s record sale include former Univision chairman Jerrold Perenchio’s 10-acre estate in Bel Air, which is selling for $245 million, and spec developer Bruce Makowky’s 38,000-square-foot mansion, also in Bel Air, which is listed at $150 million.

Phil Gutman, president of Brown Harris Stevens Miami, said the deal shows “that the wealthy may want their money in real estate rather than the rocky stock market right now” and that the U.S. is still an appealing option for buyers of luxury real estate even with a government shutdown.

In New York, luxury brokers were simply elated that the deal closed.

“There was a lot of speculation about whether this would ever happen,” said Compass’ Michael Graves. “In some ways, it exemplifies belief in New York from a long-term perspective. It’s a nod to value in New York’s luxury market.”

His colleague Leonard Steinberg echoed this sentiment, saying that “all in New York should be celebrating this close because the volume of revenue it delivers for New York City is spectacular.”

Katherine Kallergis and Alexei Barrionuevo contributed reporting.