He invested more than $130M into 4 Manhattan condos. Now he’s taking a hit

In an overstocked luxury market, sellers are weathering losses

UPDATED, Jan. 17, 2020, 10:53 a.m.: In the mid-2010s, German investor Ekkehart Hassels-Weiler dropped $131 million on four luxury penthouses in downtown Manhattan.

The market was strong and the product, which included condos at 56 Leonard, was top tier.

But when he sold two of his properties in 2019, he took an almost 16 percent loss, according to the Wall Street Journal — from $53 million down to $44.6 million.

In an overstocked luxury market beset with declining sales and a retreat in foreign investment, Hassels-Weiler is one of many investors forced to take a hit at resale.

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Though brokers and developers are hopeful the market will rally, the first two weeks of January marked the lowest volume of contracts signed in that time period since 2013, according to a market report from Olshan Realty. A separate report from Douglas Elliman showed that the median sales price for a luxury condo in Manhattan dropped 24 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 on the same period in 2018.

The biggest resale losses last year were at new developments or recent conversions. The Herzog & de Meuron-designed 56 Leonard, where Hassels-Weiler invested, recorded two of the year’s largest losses. But the largest loss of 2019 was at One57, where retail heir David Lowy sold a three-bedroom for 32 percent less than what he paid four years earlier.

It wasn’t all bad news, though, and some sellers made big gains. These returns were usually seen in boutique buildings in areas such as the West Village, where fewer towering new development projects are in the works.

A medium-rise condo at 150 Charles Street saw the most successful trade of the year, the Journal reported, citing StreetEasy data. Developer Steven Witkoff sold his 4,600-square-foot unit for $31.86 million last June after purchasing it for $24.18 million in 2016. [WSJ] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Hassels-Weiler bought the units in 2010; he bought them in the mid-2010s. The story has also been updated to clarify that the largest loss of the year was at One57, and the other two were at 56 Leonard.