The Ultimate Exception

Manhattan continues to raise the bar in real estate despite a downturn in the housing market. 4 East 75th has gone to contract at above $46 million, a record-setting price.


While economists say the housing market is cooling down, Manhattan’s thirst for a new record-setting deal is heating up.

The Harkness Mansion, at 4 East 75th St., is listed by Brown Harris Stevens at $55 million. It would shatter the current record sale of $45 million for the penthouse at 15 Central Park West, which was sold to Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb. In a third place is Tamir Samir’s $40 million Duke Seman’s mansion. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reportedly has signed a $45 million contract for the town house at 25 East 78th, according to The New York Observer.

The Harkness Mansion a French-Renaissance town house, was listed initially by Prudential’s Douglas Elliman in October 2005. Two months later it was off the market. The 50-foot-wide mansion in March was named the Kips Bay Designer Showhouse for 2006 for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. The property was picked up in mid August by Paula Del Nunzio, senior vice president and managing director of Brown Harris Stevens.

Why the sellers, banker Jaqui Safra and girlfriend Jean Doumanian, switched brokers is unknown. Neither agency has commented on the switch nor has the couple. The couple purchased the mansion for $6.9 million. Safra and Doumanian’s potential profit will be well above their purchase price, which at the time was a record-setter.

The mansion has gone to contract at above $46 million, according to The New York Observer Real Estate. But the overall market doesn’t support the record-setting price. Home prices fell 1.7 percent from August of last year for all housing types, according to the National Association of Realtors. It is the first time in 11 years that the market had a year-over-year decline. However, when dealing with high-value properties, market trends don’t always tell the story.

“The market for property at the highest level of the residential market is strong but selective, with some prime property commanding extraordinarily strong prices in a relatively short period of time, while other choices of excellent quality are not gaining buyers at the same levels or speed,” Del Nuezo said.

A National Association of Realtors report shows that apartment and condominium sales have dropped. Existing condominiums and cooperative housing sales are down 14.5 percent when compared to August 2005. The average existing condo price is also down 2.4 percent from a year before.

In Manhattan, condo sales fell 6 percent and cooperative apartment sales fell 4 percent compared to 2005’s third quarter, according to a BHS report.

Previous owners of the Harkness Mansion are shipping magnate Nathaniel McCready, IBM-founder Thomas J. Watson and Standard Oil heiress Rebekah Harkness.