Gilded Age mansion trades for $50M in all-cash deal

Group of U.N. nations sold Fifth Avenue home

854 Fifth Avenue (Douglas Elliman)
854 Fifth Avenue (Douglas Elliman)

A Fifth Avenue property once called Manhattan’s “last intact Gilded Age Mansion” has traded for $50 million.

The 20,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts mansion has been on and off the market for years, the Wall Street Journal reported. The home secured its asking price in the all-cash deal.

The sellers — the Permanent Mission of Serbia to the United Nations — are a group of five European countries that inherited the property after Yugoslavia’s demise in the 1990s.

The anonymous buyer was identified only as a London-based businessman who plans to use the property as a pied-à-terre.

Tristan Harper of Douglas Elliman was the listing agent. Nikki Field of Sotheby’s International Realty represented the buyer.

The home was designed by Warren & Wetmore, the architecture firm that designed Grand Central Terminal, around 1905. It was later bought by Emily Vanderbilt White, granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and later sold to the Yugoslavian government in 1946.

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The extravagant home includes a grand staircase that begins in an entry hall with 34-foot-high ceilings. There is a roughly 780-square-foot living room, along with a room on the first floor that’s covered in hand-painted gold leaf.

The home was first put on the market in 2017 for $50 million and immediately got two full-price offers, Harper told the Journal. However, under terms of the U.N. agreement, all of the countries — Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia — had to agree on the sale. Negotiations dragged on scrambling offers for the home.

It was then put on and off the market over the course of the next few years, including time off for repairs after an electrical fire. Harper made four trips to Europe, including to once present a $40 million deal, which government officials rejected.

“The committee just said, ‘Our taxpayers know the price and they expect the full price,’” Harper told the Journal.

— Sasha Jones

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