Storied Penthouse 16/17B at 730 Park Avenue, owned by the five Successor States to Former Yugoslavia, sold for $12.1Million, net to sellers, in an all-cash, off-market transaction. Tristan Harper of Douglas Elliman represented the sellers.
Before it was temporarily withdrawn from the market in the early spring of this year, the apartment’s price tag was $18 million. This figure was negotiated down due to the apartment’s poor condition caused by the decades of neglect and deterioration. However, the final closing price is almost 80 percent higher than the property’s official appraised value from 2016.
The unusual simultaneous contract signing and closing, took over three hours, since the authorized signatories of the five Successor States (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Macedonia) had to jointly execute the contract and all the other closing documents. It was estimated that each person had to sign over 150 times, on various required documents. In addition to the purchase price, the buyer paid all the closing costs, including those typically paid by the seller. This added close to 10 percent to the new owner’s total cost of acquisition. The sale had to receive approvals from each of the governments of the five Successor States of Former Yugoslavia, plus the U.S. Department of State, as well as the building’s stringent Co-op Board. This ends a decades long chapter of the notorious 4,500 square foot, 13-room, four-bedroom duplex residence, with four terraces and three fireplaces, located in one of Manhattan’s most coveted prewar cooperative buildings.
The apartment was purchased in 1975 by the country’s communist strongman Marshal Tito, for just $100,000 in cash. It had its glory days through the 1980s when it served as the official residence of the Yugoslav Ambassador to the United Nations. Over the years, President Tito, met and entertained countless world dignitaries in the property, during his regular visits to UN conferences. Amid the country’s bloody Civil War of the early 1990s, which eventually broke Yugoslavia apart, the apartment sat vacant and abandoned for decades. In 1992 its last occupant was released from his ambassadorial duties and vacated the property. He released the keys to the UN, and the co-op board would not allow anyone to occupy the apartment until it sold.
As reported in overseas media, quoting local governmental officials, the purchaser is a “next door neighbor … a Wall Street mogul raised in France, whose family is of aristocratic Vietnamese background … who plans to combine the two apartments into an 8,000 square foot triplex.”
The apartment will have to undergo a major updating and gut renovation, starting with the asbestos abatement and removal of the lead paint, replacement of all windows, installation of a HVAC system, and much more. The entire process may take a minimum of three years, due to the building’s strictly enforced “summer rules,” which allow renovation work from June to September only.
For this reason, so the renovation can start this summer, the transaction had to close in a very short period of time, by May 31. The sellers had just over a month to secure all their respective governments’ and other approvals. Otherwise, the purchaser’s offer would have been withdrawn as of June 1. “In an amazing display of cooperation between the five Successor States of former Yugoslavia, and teams of both parties’ attorneys, brokers, managing agents and title insurance officials, the sale closed as scheduled, said Tristan Harper, a Douglas Elliman broker. The sale, first of its kind by these sellers, is considered by the official state announcements, as “a great step forward” and “a historic moment” in resolving the issues of inherited real estate of Former Yugoslavia. This penthouse is one of over seventy similar trophy properties, worldwide, acquired by the Former Yugoslavia, which are still undivided between its Successor States. The apartment at 730 Park Avenue is also a part of the same owner’s portfolio of five properties currently being marketed by Tristan Harper, including a mansion at 854 Fifth Avenue in NY, and embassy compounds in Switzerland, Germany, and Japan.