Before he could react, George Bardwil had a gun pointed in his face.
It was Monday afternoon when Mr. Bardwil, a linen manufacturer, answered a call at his garden apartment on East 51st Street in Manhattan and was confronted by two robbers — one armed with a black semiautomatic handgun.
The gunman said, “ ‘Don’t look at my face,’ ” said Mr. Bardwil, 59, who is semiretired from his decades-old family-run business, Bardwil Industries, which makes tables linens, place mats, napkins and bath towels.
The robbers pushed their way into the first-floor residence in the five-story brownstone between Second and First Avenues in Turtle Bay, next door to the Laotian mission to the United Nations. They used twine and phone cords to bind the hands of Mr. Bardwil and two friends who were visiting and stole their wallets, cellphones and watches, according to Mr. Bardwil and the police.
Then, as the armed man stood guard over the victims, in the living room, the second robber paused, put black gloves on his hands and made his way to a safe in the bedroom. His movements were tracked by one of 15 security cameras Mr. Bardwil said he had installed in his house several months ago.
A housekeeper came into the apartment while the home invasion was in progress, said Mr. Bardwil. The armed assailant rushed her, threw his hand over her mouth and pushed her to the floor of the living room along with the other victims, he said.
The whole ordeal took less than five minutes, Mr. Bardwil said on Tuesday.
When the criminals left, Mr. Bardwil and the others wriggled out of their binds and called the police. Mr. Bardwil looked in the safe. He said the men had taken several watches worth $50,000 to $100,000 each, including a diamond-encrusted Louis Vuitton watch; paper money from the 1920s worth about $20,000; and antique jewelry, including an Art Deco diamond bracelet given to him by his grandmother.
Mr. Bardwil said there were signs the robbers knew what they were doing: they were able to slip into the building’s vestibule undetected; they seemed to know precisely where the safe was; and they knew where to find the controls for the surveillance cameras, which one of them disabled. People with information about the robbers are asked to contact the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers unit.
Mr. Bardwil said he was not sure if he had left the safe open or if the robber cracked it or knew the combination.
He could not immediately place a monetary value of the items taken, but he was in the process of putting together a list for detectives on Tuesday.
In retrospect, Mr. Bardwil said, things could have been worse.
“Nobody was hurt,” he said. “It’s just a bunch of junk as far as I’m concerned.”