Denied by board 20 years ago, mogul finally owns Dakota co-op

Cardboard magnate and political donor Dennis Mehiel purchased Google exec Ruth Porat’s unit for $11M

Dennis Mehiel and the Dakota (Getty, Ajay Suresh from New York, NY, USA, CC BY 2.0)
Dennis Mehiel and the Dakota (Getty, Ajay Suresh from New York, NY, USA, CC BY 2.0)

Two decades after his rejection by the famed building’s board, cardboard magnate and prolific political donor Dennis Mehiel has been granted entry into the exclusive club of co-op owners at the Dakota.

Mehiel and his wife, Karen, bought an apartment at the 140-year-old Upper West Side building for $10.8 million from Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Google parent Alphabet, and her husband, attorney Anthony Paduano, records show.

Mehiel said he’s wanted to live in the building at 1 West 72nd Street ever since he “fell in love with it in 1978” after reading the Jack Finney novel “Time and Again,” in which the building enables visitors to time travel.

Mehiel, who founded Box USA in 1966 and built it into a national cardboard empire, previously lived in the building from 1999 until the early 2000s, during which time he rented a second-floor apartment from a friend.

He tried to buy an apartment on the fifth floor in 2002, but said he was rejected by the co-op board after a political “get together” he hosted ran over capacity and inconvenienced the board’s president. Mehiel continued to live in the building until his lease expired.

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“Having lived in the Dakota with 20-foot ceilings, any apartment I go to that has 10-foot ceilings, I feel claustrophobic,” he said. “It’s so fucked up!”

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Mehiel is far from the only one to be denied by the board: Other notable rejects include Madonna, Cher, Alex Rodriguez and Judd Apatow, according to CityRealty.

Mehiel is well-known for his entrepreneurship and political connections. Box USA was the nation’s largest independent manufacturer of corrugated packaging by the time he sold it to International Paper in 2004. Two years earlier, Mehiel ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor alongside Democratic gubernatorial candidate Carl McCall, who ultimately lost the election to incumbent Republican George Pataki.

In 2019, Mehiel stepped down as chairman of the Battery Park City Authority after six years on the board.