Records, records and more records: Resi deals set higher bar in 2019

Ken Griffin sale shattered records, skewed data for better

From left: Jeff Bezos with 212 Fifth Avenue and Ken Griffin and Sting with 220 Central Park South (Credit: Getty Images, StreetEasy)
From left: Jeff Bezos with 212 Fifth Avenue and Ken Griffin and Sting with 220 Central Park South (Credit: Getty Images, StreetEasy)

Ken Griffin. Jeff Bezos. Sting.

These were just three of the A-listers that closed on pricey Manhattan real estate in 2019.

With closings well underway at 220 Central Park South, seven of the year’s top 10 sales were at Vornado Realty Trust’s limestone tower. As of Dec. 20, Vornado closed 60 units valued at $1.7 billion.

Overall, 2019’s top 10 sales totaled $859.6 million, up 51.8 percent from $566.19 million in 2018. But Griffin’s record-shattering buy at 220 Central Park South alone accounted for much of that bump. The Citadel founder shelled out $240 million in January.

Griffin wasn’t the only buyer to set a new record in 2019, however.

Bezos’ $80 million bachelor pad at 212 Fifth Avenue became the priciest residential sale below 42nd Street. And hedge funder John Griffin paid a record $77.1 million for a townhouse on the Upper East Side.

But 220 CPS was still king, with many well-heeled buyers trading up from “older” new condos like 15 Central Park West and One57. With 117 units, 220 CPS has a projected sellout of $3.4 billion. As of press time, Vornado was halfway there, having closed 60 units for $1.7 billion since October 2018, when buyers began closing. Vornado said it plans to invest $1 billion in profits from the condo project into its Penn Plaza redevelopment. Many buyers at 220 CPS are no stranger to new development, having previously owned in buildings like 15 Central Park West.

Here are 2019’s top resi deals:

1. 220 Central Park South, PH 50-53 | $240 million
Three weeks into 2019, Ken Griffin added to his burgeoning real estate empire with the priciest condo in New York — and the highest-priced home ever sold in the United States. Spanning 23,000 square feet, the quadplex covers the 50th through 53rd floors of the limestone tower, designed by Robert A.M. Stern. The long-rumored deal works out to $10,435 per foot. It is also the pièce de résistance to a string of other purchases by Griffin, including a house in London for $122 million, a $58.75 million condo in Chicago and a $60 million penthouse in Miami. The penthouse was priced at $250 million, according to the building’s offering plan. The previous record for Manhattan was set by Michael Dell, who paid more than $100.47 million for a penthouse at One57 in 2014.

2. 220 Central Park South, PH 73 | $92.7 million
Billionaire Daniel Och recently relocated to South Florida to save on taxes, but that didn’t stop him from closing on a 9,800-square-foot penthouse at 220 CPS. Records show he closed in December, after going into contract in May 2015. The founder of Och-Ziff Capital Management paid nearly $93 million, or $9,490 per foot, down from an asking price of $100 million. And according to records, he also snagged a $2 million staff unit on a lower floor. Earlier this year, Och listed his condo at 15 Central Park West for $57.5 million.

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3. 212 Fifth Avenue, Unit S | $80 million
Talk about prime real estate. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos shelled out nearly $80 million for a three-unit aerie at 212 Fifth Avenue, a luxury conversion in NoMad by Madison Equities, Thor Equities and Building and Land Technology. Included in the sale was the building’s top penthouse, which was once asking $74 million and was later listed for $58 million. The deal — which gave the billionaire 17,000 square feet across several floors — is the priciest sale to date below 42nd Street. Bezos, who is reportedly worth $110 billion, is in the midst of divorcing MacKenzie Bezos, with whom he bought a sprawling condo at 25 Central Park West in the 1990s.

4. 14 East 67th Street | $77.1 million
Maybe it’s something about the name Griffin? Hedge funder John Griffin (no relation to Ken) closed on a record-breaking $77 million townhouse deal in June. The previous townhouse record was set in 2006, when financier J. Christopher Flowers paid $53 million for the Harkness mansion on East 75th Street. Griffin, the founder of Blue Ridge Capital, bought the 30,000-square-foot mansion from financier Philip Falcone and his wife, Lisa, in an off-market deal. The Falcones paid $49 million for the double-wide home in 2008 from prior owner Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse magazine.

5. 220 Central Park South, PH16 | $65.8 million
What’s a three-year wait for an Englishman in New York? British rocker Sting closed on a penthouse at 220 CPS in June, three years after going into contract. Records show he paid $65.8 million — or $11,313 per foot — for the 5,800-square-foot unit, a slight discount to the original $70 million price tag. The penthouse is the top residence in the 18-story “villa” portion of the building, which faces Central Park. Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, sold their duplex at 15 Central Park West last year for $50 million, nearly double the $27 million they paid in 2008.

6. 520 Park Avenue, DPH54 | $64.3 million
Who bought one of 520 Park Avenue’s priciest penthouses? The world may never know. Records listed the buyer as CJFGK, LLC — an entity managed by Moshe Oppenheim, an attorney with First Quality in Great Neck, New York. First Quality manages products including baby diapers, paper towels and food packaging containers. Whomever the buyer, he or she financed the purchase at Zeckendorf Developer’s ultra-luxury tower with a $32.13 million mortgage from JPMorgan Chase, records show. At 9,139 square feet, the purchase price works out to $7,031 per foot. The original asking price was $76 million, according to marketing materials.

7. 220 Central Park South, Unit 49A | $64.1 million
In one of several pricey deals that closed this fall, an anonymous buyer shelled out $64 million for a 49th floor spread at 220 CPS. Records list the buyer as K&J Assets, an LLC linked to a Hong Kong housing complex, which took out a $37.8 million mortgage to purchase the Billionaires’ Row pad. At 6,591 square feet, the purchase price works out to more than $9,700 per foot. The condo has five bedrooms and six bathrooms, marketing materials show.

8. 220 Central Park South, Unit 47A | $61 million
An anonymous buyer from California became one of the latest buyers at 220 CPS, closing on a $61 million pad, a slight discount from the $63 million asking price. The buyer closed in October, nearly three years after inking a contract, which has been typical at the Vornado development. Records list the buyer as 47 SPC I, LLC, an entity with an address in Los Angeles. With 6,591 square feet, the purchase price works out to $9,255 per foot.

9. 220 Central Park South, Unit 46A | $59.6 million
Talk about a second home. Attorney and finance exec Frederick Arnold, and his wife, Janine, an interior designer, dropped nearly $60 million for a five-bedroom pad at 220 CPS. At 6,591, the price works out to $9,037 per foot. Records show the Arnolds purchased the condo through an entity dubbed CPV46LLC, which shares an address with the Arnold’s home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Frederick Arnold is an attorney and was CFO of Convergex, a financial brokerage acquired by Cowen Group for $166 million in 2017. Janine Arnold is an interior decorator. In 2016, they purchased a sprawling 28th-floor penthouse in Tampa for $2.65 million, one of the city’s priciest deals of the year.

10. 220 Central Park South, Unit 45A | $55 million
Here’s one condo on Billionaires’ Row that won’t be going dark. David Littman, founder of the high-end lighting company Littman Brands, and his wife, Constance, closed on a 45th-floor pad at 220 CPS. Records show the Littmans, through a trust named “DCJ220CPS,” paid $55 million, or $8,345 per foot, for the 6,591-square-foot unit in October. They first went into contract in 2015. According to records, the trust took out a $38 million mortgage to finance the purchase. The Littmans also have homes in Newburgh, New York, Los Angeles and Baltimore. They previously had an apartment on Park Avenue.

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