There are certain buildings in certain cities that over time come to symbolize the unlimited possibilities of a place, to which people from all over are drawn by a drive for power, prestige, or just simple pleasure.
Such a building is the Time Warner Center.
A soaring, glamorous affirmation of millennial ambition and solid proof of the city’s reach and power, the Time Warner Center has, within a short time of its unveiling in February 2004, become a privileged perch for an intriguing global group of superrich characters, especially the south tower, officially known as One Central Park. Here are some of the most expensive apartments in New York, possibly the world. One opulent megacondo of two full floors near the very top came with a mind-spinning price tag of $54,762,982. And that’s for the raw space alone. It does not include the cost of the lavish inner architecture (millions more) of the spectacular duplex penthouse, which features a glass-walled two-story living room centered around an indoor reflecting pool with a fountain in the middle, has a fanciful fireplace of transforming presence, and as the pièce de résistance offers a jaw-dropping wraparound terrace with a lordly 360-degree view of the pulsating city. Peter Marino, most famous for the Milan apartment he created for Giorgio Armani as well as his luxurious interiors for Valentino’s black yacht, is the designer. The owner is a 47-year-old Mexican-born, London-based hedge fund manager named David Martinez, who initially paid a then unheard-of $42.3 million in August 2003 for the entire 76th floor and about half of the 77th floor. In July of 2005 he acquired the rest of the upper floor for an additional $12.5 million. Martinez thus eclipsed the historymaking $44 million paid by media mogul Rupert Murdoch for the Fifth Avenue triplex that once belonged to Laurance S. Rockefeller.
While newspapers around the world reported the record payment by the bachelor financier—who wanted a light-filled space for his prized collection of Calders, Picassos, Lichtensteins, and Art Deco furniture by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann— a similarly priced floor-through penthouse on the 74th story of the north tower (official address, 80 Columbus Circle) was a more closely guarded transaction. The condo was bought quietly by an American woman with homes in Utah and Hawaii. Its layout, however, was designed for a very different high-altitude lifestyle. The apartment had six bedrooms and as many white marble bathrooms, each with its own breathtaking view. It was intended to put up the owner’s children and grandchild- ren whenever the family fancied a trip to Manhattan. Who was she and where did the money come from?
Well, her name is Sandie Tillotson, and she’s one of those low-profile high achievers you don’t read about in W or gossip columns, though she is a photogenic blonde and the generous donor of $6 million to Thailand’s tsunami victims. She is also a self-made entrepreneurial phenomenon, cofounder of Nu Skin Enterprises, the global empire of personal health-care products that began with a plant-based acne medication and now operates in 30 countries. The original skin-care line was expanded with a variety of antiaging and face-protecting products, then Nu Skin concoctions gained the official endorsement of the U.S. Olympic team. So in little more than a decade, Tillotson went from being a struggling working mother of four in Salt Lake City to the head of an international company with $1 billion in annual sales. Clearly this is a woman who can afford to invest in a luxurious third home in the skies. And she made her commitment to live in one of New York’s newest twin towers in the fall of 2001, undaunted by the horrific events that took place just weeks before.
An instant icon of unexpected beauty, the immense 2.7 million-square-foot structure with its two 750-foot glass spires jutting up from a massive curving base, set where Columbus Circle meets Broadway, was designed by one of today’s leading architects, David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
The towers’ glittering, perfectly calibrated façades, sharp-edged precision, and elegant symmetry update the look of Midtown Manhattan skyscrapers. Its 198 condominiums in the clouds are angled so that the floor-to-ceiling windows embrace both the surreal density of Manhattan and its almost mythic verve and sweep. The views embrace both rivers, all of Central Park, both the Chrysler and the Empire State buildings, the George Washington Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.
The trappings of luxury here make an epic coming-together for the diverse internationals who live under one roof. But one thing’s for sure—from its celestial private heights to its earthly breakneck-paced commercial ground, the Time Warner Center importantly takes advantage of the old real estate maxim: Location, location, location. It stands at the exact epicenter of Manhattan on Columbus Circle. The statue of Christopher Columbus for which the circle is named is the designated point from which distances to and from New York City are officially measured.
Little wonder that savvy condominium seekers of exceeding wealth from around the globe, wanting a foothold in Manhattan and wishing to buy into what’s "cool," have thronged to the Time Warner Center’s lofty dwellings. Within a year 85 percent of the costly apartments were sold.
And already, just more than two years later, some are being resold at a handsome profit. Several original tenants have already cashed in on their investments. Brian M. Stolar, a New Jersey real estate developer, paid $4.5 million in April 2004 for a 62nd-floor apartment and within a year sold it for over a million and a half more to Jon L. Stryker, an heir to a medical-equipment fortune from Kalamazoo, Michigan, listed as number 204 on Forbes’ list of the richest Americans. Stryker’s grandfather invented the mobile hospital bed and started a company that in 2005 alone reported $4.9 billion in net sales.
Stryker is typical of the varied kinds of people buying into the towers from all over the United States and abroad. And because this is an apartment building, the crisscrossing and interacting social spheres created in the lobby and on elevators is truly mind-boggling. There are celebrities. Hollywood’s Dan Aykroyd and his wife, Donna Dixon, were early owners. Latin pop singer Ricky Martin signed a contract for a four-bedroom condo for $6.7 million and quickly found himself in court with another Time Warner tenant. The dispute apparently was not related to the kinds of arguments that typically arise between neighbors in New York apartments. It happens that a week before Martin took possession of his 65th-floor digs, his lawyers filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against Martin’s longtime manager, An- gelo Medina, who had unbeknownst to Martin become his Time Warner Center neighbor, having himself slapped down $3.7 million for another 65th-floor apartment. Luckily Medina’s two-bedroom unit was in the north tower facing north, while Martin’s was in the south tower looking south. Medina, who also owns a professional sports channel and basketball team in Puerto Rico, eventually settled with the recording star—to the satisfaction of both multimillionaires—albeit briefly, as Martin put his condo back on the market for $9.9 million and sold it last August. The film actress Christina Applegate was a Time Warner resident during her Tony-nominated runs of her first Broadway show, Sweet Charity. She famously injured her foot but went on dancing every night and always flashed a broad smile in the lobby. She was beloved by all the doormen.
Many Time Warner condo buyers, even though not celebrities themselves, have had their boldfaced moments. One of them is billionaire John W. Kluge of Metromedia fame, whose Iraqi-born, former belly dancer ex-wife, Patricia, was one of the most photographed of the younger trophy wives of the phenomenal moneymakers of the eighties. In those days Kluge, who made his fortune selling television stations and wireless licenses, was one of the richest men in America. For this two-bedroom pied-à-terre on Columbus Circle, he put down $2.1 million.
The widow of Robert C. Atkins, M.D., formulator of the Atkins diet, spent $8.4 million for a three-bedroom apartment. Newspapers reported that the diet doctor had left an estate worth $600 million upon his death in 2003.
Adman Keith Reinhard, who came up with the McDonald’s slogan "You deserve a break today" and is now chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide, owns a $9.1 million four-bedroom south tower apartment on the 70th floor. On a clear day you can see as far south as the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and as far north as the Tappan Zee.
Gregory Olsen is the 61-year-old New Jersey technotycoon who made news when he paid $20 million in October 2005 for a ten-day trip in a Russian Soyuz space capsule to reach the International Space Station. He recently spent upwards of $9.1 million for his apartment. Besides the view, Olsen was attracted to the futuristic, space-age technology built into the towers. Each condominium comes powered with 16 types of telecommunications lines, including T1, PBX, DSL, phone, and cable, making each apartment broadcast-ready and capable of live television transmission as well as the teleconferencing of business meetings. This extraordinary wiring and high-tech capacity also applies, of course, to security. Closed-circuit cameras, computer screens, surveillance alarms, and electronically coded cards instead of keys—they are all monitored around the clock at a command center deep in the bowels of the building.
Anna Anisimova was, at the age of 19, one of the youngest condo owners in the building, having acquired a two-bedroom suite in the summer of 2004 for a reported $10 million. New York’s first Russian American "princess," she is sometimes called Moscow’s answer to Paris Hilton (she’s a willowy beauty, colossally rich, socially adept, and uninhibitedly fun).
Anisimova is part of the new generation of Russian heiresses making their way to Manhattan. Her father, Vasily Anisimov, is one of the so-called Russian oligarchs who managed to enrich themselves enormously during the reign of Boris Yeltsin. He is a reclusive aluminum tycoon and was listed as number 67 on Forbes’ 2004 roster of the richest Russians. Vasily Anisimov’s estimated worth is $350 million.
For more than a decade, wives and daughters of the new Russian rich have lived abroad in stately townhouses on Eaton Square or on cozy estates in West Sussex. Vasily Anisimov chose instead to send his family to New York, settling them initially in the quiet upstate village of Congers then in a duplex apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey, before finally transporting them to Manhattan. (His safety concerns are more than legitimate: In 2000 his eldest daughter from another marriage was brutally murdered in Yekaterinburg.)
Anna Anisimova is not the only deep-pocketed condo buyer from the former Soviet Union. On the 75th floor of the north building, a heavenly three-bedroom suite with a truly out-of-this-world panorama of the city was bought for $8.5 million by Nurzhan Subkhanberdin, the chairman of Kazkommertsbank, the biggest private bank in Kazakhstan, which has assets of $4 billion. This is no Borat joke.
Tobias Meyer, the handsome young head of Sotheby’s contemporary art worldwide, plunked down $5.3 million for a loft. Meyer and his partner, the art consultant Mark Fletcher, spearheaded the flight here by art aficionados who decided that the air and light high above Columbus Circle would be ideal for their treasured collections. A six-bedroom $15.3 million home on a top floor houses the wondrous sun-catching collection of colorful glass sculptures by the much praised Dale Chihuly, as well as the works of several other modern artists. The luxurious gallerylike apartment belongs to Gerard L. Cafesjian, who made a bundle when his company West Publishing was sold for $3.4 billion to the Thomson Corporation in 1996. Cafesjian has also endowed a modern art museum to be built in Armenia, the land of his forebears, with $50 million.
Yet another envied collection moved into the complex with Pamela and Richard Kramlich. She is a trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and he’s a venture capitalist who finances high-tech companies. The couple’s noteworthy stash of avant-garde video art is sure to be fought over in the coming years by leading museums across the country.
One floor below Hellen Sierra and Jaime Ardila—he is the founder of the popular Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper El Espacio—are the two apartments that Turkish industrialist Sakip Sabanci purchased at a total price of $8.6 million just before he died in 2004 at the age of 71. At the time his estimated family fortune of $2.8 billion made him the richest man in his country. The apartments now belong to his two daughters, Sevil Sabanci Sabanci and Dilek Sabanci, who have spent a lifetime avoiding publicity.
Five floors above the sisters, one of the wealthiest men in Britain, a London bond trader named Michael Spencer, paid even more ($8.7 million) for a single apartment with three bedrooms than what Sabanci paid for his two apartments combined.
For those who truly believe that New York is the center of the universe, living at the Time Warner Center means living at the red-hot heart of the capital of capitals.
Denise Lefrak Calicchio is a noted Manhattan real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty.
Six perennially hot properties
820 Fifth Avenue
Pedigree One of the three most expensive apartment buildings on Fifth Avenue, this gray lime-stone palazzo on the corner of 63rd Street was built in 1916 by Starrett & Van Vleck. Most of the apartments have at least 18 rooms with a 40-foot entrance gallery and fireplaces in all the living rooms.
Lowdown This is an all-cash building; anyone with less than $159 million in liquid assets need not apply. New Yorkers who didn’t make the cut have included Ronald Perelman of Revlon and gas-and-oil magnate Frederick Koch, who turned around and bought a place next door at 825 Fifth Avenue.
Then and Now William and Babe Paley, Ann Getty, Jayne Wrightsman
Prices $25 million and up
Realtor to Know A. Laurance Kaiser, Key-Ventures, 212-439-1610
Pedigree One of the big three on Central Park West, The Beresford at 81st Street was built in 1929 by Emery Roth, who larded the 22-story Italianate pile with ornate carvings. The 175 apartments have 20-by-36-foot living rooms and some equally grandiose 18-by-28-foot bedrooms.
Lowdown The three best apartments with space inside the signature corner towers belong to John McEnroe, Helen Gurley Brown (who bought hers from Mike Nichols when he left to marry Diane Sawyer), and Lew Frankfort, the chairman and CEO of Coach. Jerry Seinfeld spent so long renovating that the co-op board began charging him $500 a day in penalties.
Then and Now Rock Hudson, Margaret Mead, Beverly Sills, Glenn Close, Bob Weinstein
Prices $2 million-$26 million
Realtor to Know Roberta Golubock, Sotheby’s International Realty, 212- 606-7704
960 Fifth Avenue
Pedigree Constructed in 1928 on the site of a 130-room mansion, 960 Fifth Avenue was sold as raw space with interlocking floor plans so complex that no two apartments are alike; ceiling heights can range from 14 to 20 feet on the same floor. The largest apartments here have five bedrooms and 14 windows overlooking 77th Street.
Lowdown The turnover rate is one of the slowest in the city; most tenants have a net worth of more than $100 million. Claus von Bülow was president of the co-op board for 11 years; Anne Bass owns the largest apartment on the 12th floor, bought for her in 1984 by Sid Bass as part of their divorce settlement.
Then and Now Gustavo Cisneros, Edgar Bronfman Sr., Sonny von Bülow, Sister Parish
Prices $2 million-$30 million
Realtor to Know Allison Koffman, Sotheby’s International Realty, 212- 606-7688
1 Sutton Place South
Pedigree At 13 stories, with 33 apartments plus a penthouse, 1 Sutton Place South was designed in 1925 by the architect Rosario Candela. A recessed porte cochere leads to an extensive private garden with its own yacht landing on the East River.
Lowdown The penthouse—with two elliptical-shaped parlors and eight- foot-tall French doors leading onto expansive landscaped terraces—was Winston and C. Z. Guest’s family home for many years. A tiny waterside public park below the garden with a view of the Queensboro Bridge is the spot where Woody Allen canoodled with Diane Keaton in the 1979 classic film Manhattan.
Then and Now Patricia Lawford, Bill Blass, Carolyne Roehm, Sigourney Weaver
Prices $2.5 million-$15 million
Realtor to Know Juliette Janssens, Sotheby’s International Realty, 212- 606-7660
Pedigree Designed in 1966 by Wallace Harrison, who also worked on the UN complex across the street, the two build- ings rise 38 floors from a six-story commercial base. There are 334 apartments (typically with eight rooms), among them 56 duplexes on the highest floors, fitted out with fireplaces and spiral staircases.
Lowdown When the building opened, apartment prices ranged from $27,600 to $166,000. One of the early purchasers was Truman Capote, newly flush from the success of In Cold Blood. The north tower, No. 870, is considered the more desirable of the two because of its superior views.
Then and Now S. I. Newhouse Jr., Alan Greenspan, Johnny Carson, Walter Cronkite, Dina Merrill
Prices $675,000-$12 million
Realtor to Know Lois Nasser, Sotheby’s International Realty, 212-606-7660
1 Beekman Place
Pedigree Perched above the East River on a cul-de-sac off First Avenue, 1 Beekman Place was developed by David Milton, who financed the 16-story building with a $1 million loan from his father-in-law, John D. Rockefeller Jr.
Lowdown In 1982 the building’s board of directors evicted A&P supermarket heir Huntington Hartford. The playboy art collector—who once socialized with the likes of Errol Flynn and the Beatles—was forcibly removed from his 14-room duplex for excessive swashbuckling with underage women. In 2005 Jane Pauley and Garry Trudeau purchased a triplex with a two-story living room and garden terraces overlooking the river.
Then and Now Abby Rockefeller, Aly Khan, Arnold Scaasi
Prices $8 million-$20 million
Realtor to Know Kirk Henckels, Stribling Private Brokerage, 212- 452-4402