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Qatar To Buy UES House In What May Be NY's Priciest Sale Ever

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The nation of Qatar has confirmed its purchase of a 41-foot-wide Upper East Side limestone mansion owned by the Wildensteins, a well-known family of international art dealers. The ultra-luxurious, 1932-built Beaux Arts townhouse, which Qatar plans to use as a consulate as well as a showcase for its artists' work was apparently neither on the market officially nor unofficially. Nonetheless, it was allegedly valued at $125 million, according to the Post. Meanwhile, the Journal reports a slightly more conservative deal—that the purchase, once closed, will total more than $90 million. Either way, such a transaction would trump the current record-holder for most expensive buy in New York City: the daughter of a Russian fertilizer magnate, who nabbed an $88 million 15 Central Park West penthouse back in 2011. Qatar's Consul General was drawn to the five-floor property at 19 East 64th Street because of its "history, its location and its security features. Built with steel construction, the five-story building has reinforced floors built to accommodate the weight of vaults." So Qatar probably has a lot of valuables.

UPDATE: Douglas Elliman has released a statement confirming that the building is in a record-breaking contract, but does not name the exact price: "Oren and Tal Alexander of The Alexander Team have signed a contract for the sale of a townhouse at 19 East 64th Street that breaks all records for the price of a New York City townhouse ... The brothers, 26 and 27 years old respectively, also hold the record for the most expensive sale in Miami." The release's title calls it "the most expensive townhouse in NYC," but it remains to be seen whether it could eventually earn the title of most expensive residential sale overall because the buyer is an entity that will use the building for commercial purposes rather than an individual or family using it to live. UPDATE 2: A WIldenstein rep clarifies that it is a commercial property, which means it really shouldn't be lumped into the same breath as the $88M 15 CPW PH. Also, an official Wildenstein statement says the family was contacted, and then represented, by Corcoran's Carrie Chiang.

Wildenstein & Co. is selling off their longtime headquarters as current chief Guy Wildenstein is mired in legal troubles (there is another alleged scandal, too) and his son, David, is taking over the business. Company founder Nathan Wildenstein was the brains behind the 64th Street townhouse's Depression-era construction as a gallery to match that of deep-pocked collectors who lived nearby, like Carnegie and Frick. The WSJ explains: "[Nathan Wildenstein] brought American architect Horace Trumbauer to the Hôtel de Wailly in Paris, the 18th-century building that houses the family's nonprofit Wildenstein Institute, for inspiration. Mr. Trumbauer returned to New York and designed a Beaux-Arts townhouse with a carved limestone facade, double-height ceilings and, in the third-floor offices, gilded wood paneling from a prominent 18th-century Parisian townhouse."

David Wildenstein said the family will be sad to see it go, though money from the sale might help ease the pain a bit. He's also expanding the family business from art alone via a real estate project on the side, notes the Journal, "consolidating three buildings adjacent to the Wildenstein New York headquarters on the corner of East 64th Street and Madison Avenue" in a project short on details that will be complete in 2015. One to keep an eye on.

Currently, Qatar offers consular services out of the Ritz on Central Park South. So it's eager to move into the 20,000-square-foot consulate-to-be as soon as the deal closes, which will be around April. Per the Post, the house also comes with an under-construction seven-car parking garage. A rep for Wildenstein says there is no garage included in the sale.

Qatar has a bit of history buying up NYC property. Most recently, it bought a Turtle Bay townhouse for $34.35 million back in July. Also, the Middle Eastern nation's prime minister gave up on One57's penthouse (Bill Ackman nabbed that $90M trophy, though the sale hasn't closed yet), and decided to opt for a $47 million Upper East Side manse instead. That's far from a Qatari's first venture into the Upper East Side, but let's just hope that the Upper East Siders are more amendable to their deep-pocketed Middle Eastern neighbors this time around.
· Gallery History [Wildenstein & Co.]
· Qatar Buying Art Dealer Wildenstein's Manhattan Headquarters [WSJ]
· Qatar's UES townhouse buy could be NYC's priciest [NYP]