Real estate brokers often describe the properties they market as “unique.” (Roughly 99.9 percent of the time.)
But Tim Cass of the Corcoran Group, who is listing a $21.4 million penthouse at 50 Gramercy Park North this weekend, does have a point in this case.
An Icelandic couple bought two apartments in the building, a duplex and a simplex, in 2007. They paid a total of about $14 million, in cash. At the time, the $10.18 million investment in the duplex penthouse alone was one of the highest prices ever paid for an apartment south of 42nd Street.
An Icelandic bank is now selling the penthouse, which it acquired for $22 million in February, property records show. The couple, Jon Asgeir Johannesson, the founder of the Baugur Group, a once wildly successful Icelandic holding company with investments in grocery, fashion and real estate, and Ingibjorg Palmadottir, now his wife, had intended to combine the duplex and the simplex on the floor below as a pied-à-terre, Mr. Cass said.
Then the global recession intervened, and the company suffered a reversal of fortune. The couple wound up renting out the $4 million simplex apartment for $26,000 a month.
And here is where things get a little unusual: In February 2010, the renter filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court accusing the landlords, who had promised to equip the apartment with a kitchen in a timely fashion, of “willfully” installing an “ugly” kitchen with Ikea furniture. Ikea is generally known to “offer low-budget furniture,” the complaint read, and the renter argued that this kitchen was not only unsuitable in an
Ian Schrager tower with expensive and lavish kitchens, but was “the source of embarrassment for plaintiff and the subject of remarks by guests.”
The lawsuit, which has since been dismissed, stated that the renter suffered other indignities, including the discovery of 30 chewed-through chicken wings dropped onto the renter’s terrace from the Icelandic couple’s duplex while the renter had guests in attendance, according to the complaint.
The renter still lives in the unit, Mr. Cass said.
He had represented the couple in an unsuccessful attempt to sell the co-op, until it was taken off the market and then bought by the bank. He said the current asking price, more than double the original sale, was justified by the unlikelihood of a similar property’s ever coming on the market, given that it has the amenities of a luxury hotel and a location on Gramercy Park.
Mr. Cass said he was happy to have the listing back, especially as the luxury market had picked up in recent months. The three-bedroom three-and-a-half-bath co-op has 4,235 square feet of space and “quite a unique history,” he said.
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