If Your Mama has said it once, we’ve said it 52,000 times: The rich, and the superrich in particular, operate at a profoundly profligate level of consumption that’s difficult for financial mortals to comprehend. As we revealed last week, music industry eminence Jimmy Iovine just paid television titan Marcy Carsey $60 million for her bluff-top compound above Malibu’s Paradise Cove, and last month Swedish billionaire Markus Persson — he created the money-minting videogame “Minecraft” — reportedly outbid Jay-Z and Beyonce, and dropped $70 million on a sexed-up, 23,000-square-foot spec-built contemporary mansion in the Trousdale Estates area of Beverly Hills. However, children, as stratospheric as these sale prices may be, they’re still significantly lower than some of the behemoth deals going down in the Big Apple.
The penthouse atop the 1,396-foot-tall tower going up at 432 Park Avenue is said to be in contract with an unknown buyer for around $95 million, and property records now show a mysterious buyer, whose identity is hidden behind an airtight LLC, paid a record-shattering $100,471,452 and 77 cents for a 10,923-square-foot duplex penthouse at One57, a 1,004-foot-tall tower being built on West 57th Street. (The previous spending record for such things was set in late 2011 when Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the 20-something-year-old daughter of Russian potash potentate Dmitry Rybolovlev, plunked down $88 million — in cash — for a 6,700-square-foot penthouse at 15 Central Park West.)
Few of the world’s super-rich, however, hoover up preposterously priced properties (and ship-sized yachts and blue-chip artwork) at a clip that even comes close to rags-to-riches Russian multibillionaire Roman Abramovich. The former orphan’s preposterously fat property portfolio includes a 70-acre oceanside compound on the Caribbean island of St. Barts scooped up a few years ago for nearly $90 million, and a major manse in the heavily fortified Kensington Palace Gardens enclave in central London, reportedly acquired in 2011 for about $145 million.
In 2013, word began to wind its way around the international property-gossip grapevine that Abramovich and his heiress/art maven girlfriend, Dasha Zhukova, wanted to buy up all five of the apartments that comprise the epic, Edwardian Georgian-style Berwind Mansion that presides over the corner of East 64th Street and Fifth Avenue. The couple — or, much more likely, a phalanx of their representatives — reportedly talked octogenarian fashion designer Adolfo into selling the duplex unit he bought in 1987 from renowned sexologist Shere Hite. And in the fall of 2013, they were reported to be contracted for about $75 million for three decadent but non-contiguous units owned by Angelika Ivanc, the widow of skyscraper-developer Howard Ronson. The building’s fifth unit is owned by a very rich and low-profile woman, we’ve been told, who spends a great deal of time in South America but, honestly, butter beans, we’re not sure if the lady was ever approached to sell. Alas, by early 2014, the super-sized deal was in shambles. So the rumors go, the wealthy widow balked when she thought she might be able to squeeze Abramovich for a few more rubles and, rather than pay more, the usually spendthrift tycoon walked away.
Abramovich’s dream of a palace-sized pied-a-terre in Manhattan didn’t die with the aborted Berwind buys, but instead shifted focus 11 blocks north where, in October 2014, he quietly paid $29.7 million for a 21-foot-wide townhouse on East 75th Street that measures in at 9,495 square feet. The inveterate real estate size queen thereupon surreptitiously shelled out another $18.3 million that December for a second townhouse, two doors down from the first, that’s 17 feet wide, with 7,286 square feet. According to the New York Post, Abramovich is now under contract to acquire the 17-foot-wide and 8,116-square-foot townhouse that sits in between the two he already owns. No word on the agreed-upon sale price — the Post estimated its value at about $20 million — but an unidentified source told the Post that if the sellers had known the buyer was Abramovich and that he already owned the flanking townhouses, “they would have asked for a lot more money.”
A couple of quick and rudimentary calculations on Your Mama’s bedazzled abacus reveals that if the currently in-contract townhouse sells for the estimated $20 million Abramovich will have spent $68 million for the three townhouses that together claim 55 feet of sidewalk frontage and span 24,897 square feet. And that, children, does not even take into account the tens of millions more he’ll surely spend on an extensive reconfiguration of the three structures into a single, triple-wide townhouse.
As gargantuan and rare as a 25,000-square-foot townhouse in Manhattan is, when the assumed combination of the three side-by-side townhouses is complete, Abramovich’s immense residence won’t be the only extra-wide, 20,000-plus-square-foot townhouse mega-mansion on the sleepy but swank tree-lined block: The 50-foot wide Harkness Mansion is directly across the street. Financier J. Christopher Flowers bought the almost 22,000-square-foot pile in October 2006 for $53 million from banking heir and Woody Allen film financier Jacqui Safra. Flowers reportedly spent another $4 million to gut the mansion in preparation for extensive renovations before he bitterly split with his wife and sold the property in August 2011 for $36.5 million, a staggering $16.5 million loss on top of carrying costs and demolition expenses. The buyer and current owner is art-world power-player Larry Gagosian who, permit records reveal, razed everything but the historic limestone facade, and engaged the services of much-lauded architect Annabelle Selldorf to design what will surely be a show-stopping — and no doubt hideously expensive — residence of magnanimous proportions filled with a museum-worthy trove of contemporary artwork.