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NYC's Most Expensive Residential Property Can Be Yours!

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New York - The most expensive residential property ever sold in New York—a $53 million mansion snapped up by a private-equity kingpin in 2006—is up for sale again.

J. Christopher Flowers has been quietly marketing his East 75th Street townhouse near Fifth Avenue, say people familiar with the matter. He is asking for around $50 million, though brokers say buyer interest is more in the range of $40 million to $45 million.

In addition to his record purchase price for any residential sale in Manhattan, according to data from StreetEasy.com, Mr. Flowers has spent at least another $4 million to gut the building and demolish the foundation, Propertyshark.com records show.

Some people who know the property, however, say he has spent more than that to prepare the townhouse for renovation. That means Mr. Flowers will have a hard time avoiding a loss of millions of dollars on a sale of the property in the range currently that is sparking buyer interest.

Mr. Flowers has never lived in the 114-year old mansion. He is selling because he is separated from his wife, say people familiar with the matter.

While Mr. Flowers has been listening to offers on the mansion for a number of months, brokers say interest has picked up recently. He has become more directly involved in the process as demand for the very top end of the Manhattan market has been stronger than expected.

In recent weeks, a buyer signed a contract to purchase developer William Lie Zeckendorf's 41st-floor apartment at 15 Central Park West for about $40 million. Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander sold an unfinished penthouse at the downtown condo building, Superior Ink, for $31.5 million. Over the summer, developer Tamir Sapir sold a Fifth Avenue mansion for $44 million to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

Mr. Flowers is working with a broker, but the property isn't being formally displayed on websites or being publicly marketed in other ways, brokers said. Owners of high-end homes often prefer to market their properties quietly, in order to protect their privacy or to avoid an embarrassing "de-listing" if the property fails to attract offers near the asking price.

Mr. Flowers, founder of private-equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co. and a former partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has bought and sold high-priced real estate before. In 2006, he purchased another Upper East Side townhouse for $17 million and sold it for $23 million about a year later.

He bought the 75th Street townhouse, known as the Harkness Mansion, from banker Jacqui Safra and Jean Doumanian, a producer of Woody Allen films. They bought the mansion for around $7 million in 1987.

The townhouse stretches 50 feet across, making it one of the grandest in Manhattan, and has more than 20,000 square feet. The mansion takes its name from the family of Stephen Harkness, who was a silent partner of oil titan John D. Rockefeller.

WSJ
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