At number 740 Park Avenue— right on the corner of 71st street— in Manhattan’s posh Lenox Hill neighborhood stands one of the most iconic buildings in New York City.
The 19-story building boasts a magnificent limestone facade and houses 31 apartments, including what continues to be the second most expensive co-op apartment sold in the history of New York real estate. It was owned by the French government and used as the residence of its then ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud. The 18-room duplex occupies floors 12 and 13 of the historic building.
A few years ago, the property was listed on the market at $48 million and the news of its availability sparked a bidding war among three different candidates. The best offer then came from American billionaire Israel “Izzy” Englander paying $70 million for the spectacular unit.
Other purchases attest to the health of New York Real Estate, Egyptian businessman Nassef Sawiris also paid US $70 million for a penthouse that once belonged to philanthropist and Seagrams CEO Edgar Bronfma at 960 Fifth Avenue.
But back to Englander. The son of Jewish Polish immigrants who survived the Holocaust, he was born in Brooklyn in 1948. He ventured for the first time in the world of business while still a student, trading stocks. He is also known for his philanthropic work: in 2006, he donated $20 million, primarily to schools and Jewish organizations. Israel Englander founded Millennium Management in 1989 with an initial investment of $35 million, and currently, the firm manages more than 23 billion dollars in assets. See amazing luxury properties in New York.
With a personal fortune estimated at 3.3 billion, Englander already owned an apartment on the 14th floor of the legendary building. However, the billionaire was determined to acquire the neighboring duplex as a pied-à-terre for his children and grandchildren during their visits to the city.
Did Englander pay too much when he bought the unit? According to New York real estate mogul, Douglas Elliman’s Victoria Shtainer, “the fact that the buyer had an apartment on the 14th floor sealed the deal. An apartment is always more valuable to the next door neighbor than anyone else. He saw the opportunity to create a triplex, and these opportunities come only once in a lifetime.
“Many New York tycoons came to see the apartment,” said Ambassador Araud. Worthy of kings, the 7,534-square-foot duplex has double height ceilings, classical moldings, five fireplaces, private elevator, 38 windows and a small terrace. Its elegant staircase leads to the second floor, where the impressive two-bedroom master suite is located. Fine marble and precious woods take center stage in the stately living rooms. A dining room for 10 guests has a magnificent view, while its spacious studio is decorated with luxurious fabrics and a fireplace.
The spectacular duplex was originally purchased in 1979 by the French government for the sum of US$ 600,000—the equivalent of 1.9 million dollars today—which means an unprecedented 3,500 percent gain for the coffers of the French state.
Once the transaction was formally completed, the ambassador moved to a nearby apartment, albeit less expensive at number 435 East 52nd Street. ■