New York, New York - if you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere. But ‘making it’ in NYC often involves finding a nice place to live, somewhere to call home, close to all the attractions of the big city. For the average homebuyer, that’s no easy task, and even coming up with a downpayment can be an impossible dream, nevermind paying for a place in full. Still, there are those - some call them the 1 percent - who are willing to shell out any amount for the chance to snag a coveted New York City home address.
This year, investors had a voracious appetite for buying homes in the city, led by Ken Griffin at the beginning of the year, who paid a record-shattering $240 million for a penthouse at 220 Central Park South. A few months later, another businessman named Griffin purchased the most expensive townhouse in NYC ever, for $77 million, and Jeff Bezos also treated himself to an $80 million, three-condo property in Flatiron. But these weren’t the only significant residential transactions to close during 2019. There were more, a lot more.
To get an overview of the year that’s just wrapping up, we decided to extract a list of the 50 largest home sales to close in NYC during 2019, with the help of Rolling Sales data from the Department of Finance. The spotlight is focused exclusively on Manhattan, as no sales from the other boroughs made the list this time. Check them out below, and read on for some highlights.
As we’ve mentioned above, and this won’t come as a shock to anyone, the 50 largest home sales of 2019 all closed in Manhattan. There’s just no comparison among boroughs when it comes to luxury apartments; while home prices in Brooklyn are indeed on the rise, they’re still far from rivaling those commanded in Manhattan. When it comes to luxury living, Manhattan is the place to be - and to buy.
Out of the 50 home sales on our list, 25 closed in Midtown, namely in Midtown West and the Midtown CBD, according to the DoF’s definition of NYC neighborhoods. The 25 sales closed here in 2019 amounted to a combined dollar volume of more than $1 billion, an amount certainly boosted by the uber-pricey deals closed in the area surrounding Central Park.
Another popular destination for homebuyers in 2019 was the Upper East Side, where 14 residential deals closed for more than $504 million. The biggest transaction to close here this year was the $77.1 million sale of 14-16 East 67th Street. John Griffin was the buyer of the priciest-ever townhome to sell in NYC, snagging the property from sellers Philip and Lisa Falcone. The 14,240 square-foot townhouse is nestled between Madison and Fifth Avenues, and it once belonged to Penthouse magazine founder Bob Guccione.
It would seem that Kenneth Griffin’s record-breaking, $240 million purchase of a penthouse condo at 220 Central Park South created a new trend for NYC homebuyers. The luxurious 70-story tower developed by Vornado is filling up, slowly but surely, not to mention in style. 220 CPS was the setting for 20 of the sales on our list, with buyers including Ken Griffin, Sting, David and Constance Littman, Michael and Kimberly Cantanucci, Albert Behler, and a bunch of LLCs, as well. The ‘cheapest’ unit at 220 CPS to appear on our list is the $22.8 million 39A, acquired by Bruce Kaye.
220 Central Park is part of the glamorous Billionaires’ Row, an area surrounding Central Park that is well-known for its sky-high prices, expansive vistas, and high-profile residents. Vornado’s project is conveniently located next to Central Park Tower, which is currently under construction and features 116 luxury condos across its 70 stories. Closings are scheduled to go on through 2020, so we might not have heard the last of 220 CPS just yet.
Zeckendorf Development’s 520 Park Avenue, another Billionaires’ Row project, also had a fruitful year, with seven sales featured on our list, and a combined volume of $237 million. The biggest sale to close at this address in 2019 lands at #4 on our list, namely the $64 million sale of unit DPH54 to CJFGK LLC. The sale of the 9,138-square-foot duplex was the biggest NYC home sale of Q1 2019. The LLC behind the acquisition is reportedly managed by Moshe Oppenheim, an attorney with First Quality in Great Neck, N.Y. All the buyers behind the seven sales closed at 520 Park Avenue are represented via LLCs, so we’ll leave it up to you to try to find the real owners if you’re curious about who lives in this fancy building.
Data sources: NYC Department of Finance Rolling Sales Data, January through October 2019.