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Curbed Q&A: Michael Gross on 740 Park's $27m Penthouse

[With duplex penthouse 17D at legendary apartment building 740 Park Avenue hitting the market priced at $27.5 million, Curbed asked our pal Michael Gross, author of the definitive tome chronicling the building, 740 Park, to dish on the penthouse and its sale prospects...]

Q: Dude, holy shit, the penthouse!
Gross: Well bro', it's no normal building. It's got two addresses, so it has two penthouses. Oddly, they're not the most sensational apartments in the building, either. That status belongs to 15/16 A/B and 15/16 C/D, owned by Steve Schwarzman and Ronald Lauder, respectively. But back to the penthouses. The larger one, built for Commodore Vanderbilt's polo playing descendent J. Watson Webb and his wife, the patron of the arts Electra Havemeyer Webb, and now owned by George David, the chairman of United Technologies, is a sprawling triplex, but it was cobbled together out of pieces of several apartments and so does not have the graceful flow of Candela's best apartments, and it's been gutted twice since the 1930s—first by Edgar Bronfman and then by Steve Ross—so it lacks the historical "value added" that 17 D has. As far as I could ascertain, 17D has only been occupied by two owners in 75 years.

Q: Seriously, though, how awesome is it? Floorplan-porn worthy?
Gross: It is beyond awesome, high in the sky, with sweeping views west over the steeples of St James Church to Central Park and then, across the river to New Jersey, north up Park Avenue and south to encompass all of midtown Manhattan and beyond. A duplex, it's got two terraces, a 15x17 library, a 26x22 living room, a 22x16 dining room, servants quarters including a hall, two maid's rooms, a pantry and a 10x15 kitchen on the lower 17th floor, and a spiral marble staircase up to the 18th floor where there are two bedrooms (each with bathroom), 9 closets and a third huge wrap-around terrace.

Q: $27 million: hot, cold, or just right?
Gross: Granted that David's triplex has 21 rooms, seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, and sold for only $25 million less than two years ago, $27.5 million might seem a bit steep for a 9-room 4,000 square foot apartment. But 17D has got those views...and all the original details...and it is the first apartment in the building to come on the market since a pesky little writer published a book that claimed 740 is the best apartment house in the world. So I kinda think they might get it and if they do, I kinda think they should give me a commission...or an iPod, at least.

One last thing...the other night, I spoke to a book group that includes one of New York's top brokers and talk turned from Haupt's place to Schwarzman's, and whether, if he put it on the market, he could get more than the record-setting $44 million Rupert Murdoch paid for Laurence Rockefeller's flat on Fifth Avenue. The broker's estimate of the asking price Schwarzman could fetch (and remember, he paid just under $30 million, the previous record, in 2000): a whopping $55 million!!!!!

· 740 Park [Michael Gross Official Website]
· 740 Park [Amazon]
· Peering Deep Inside 740 Park Ave [Curbed]