Billionaire’s townhouse sale is a window into pandemic-era luxury deals

Michael Price accepts less than half what he listed home for in 2016

Michael Price and 20 East 78th Street (Getty, Google Maps)
Michael Price and 20 East 78th Street (Getty, Google Maps)

When hedge funder Michael Price put his Upper East Side townhouse on the market with Sotheby’s International Realty in 2016, it was priced at $38 million.

By 2019, Corcoran Group had taken over the listing at 20 East 78th Street, and the asking price was lowered to $26.5 million.

This February — with the pandemic looming — the price was dropped again, to $24.9 million.

Only then was a deal reached for the 8,760-square-foot manse, which is fitted out with elaborate security features including a “panic room” and a vault for shoes and bags. After months of negotiations, it went into contract in June. The final sale price: $18.8 million, according to property records.

As more deeds appear in public filings, a fuller picture is emerging of deals done during the pandemic and how asking prices compare to sale prices. In this instance, there was a $6 million difference from the last asking price, and a $19 million gap — more than half off — from the 2016 ask.

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Price and his wife, Jennifer, purchased the Upper East Side townhouse in 2003 for $14 million from socialite Pia Getty. The limestone-and-brick property includes seven bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms, a wine cellar and a gym.

Price, who runs New York-based hedge fund MFP Investors, has a net worth of $1.2 billion, according to Forbes.

Corcoran’s Loy Carlos, who had the listing with Carrie Chiang, told Donna Olshan in an interview after the contract was signed that negotiations stretched over months. The lockdown triggered some price adjustments and delays, he noted.

“For at least a month, the purchaser had to figure out when he wanted to close because if you want to buy a house, you want to be able to close and do work and that was not possible,” he said. “What’s the point in rushing through a contract [when] you can’t close and do work?”

Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at