BIG DEAL

(Too) Storied Hotel?

 

By JOSH BARBANEL

Published: September 26, 2008

 

HOLD your ears, Eloise!

 

 

The Plaza Hotel

 

The Plaza Hotel has gotten so much publicity lately, with dueling lawsuits between a Russian oligarch and the condominium sponsors, and every deliciously expensive sale blogged around the world, that some buyers have been scared away.

 

Guy Wildenstein, the president of the Wildenstein Galleries and the owner of a large private art collection, signed a contract in 2006 to buy five apartments at the Plaza, including what was once the Frank Lloyd Wright suite on the fourth floor. That apartment has three marble fireplaces and soaring windows overlooking Fifth Avenue and Central Park.

 

Mr. Wildenstein planned to create a duplex large enough for his extended family on two floors with nearly 12,000 square feet of space. He even paid $2 million extra for an enhanced air-conditioning and humidity-control system, along with special lighting to display some of his collections of old master and Impressionist art. The total price for the apartments was $49.2 million, according to city property records.

 

But now Mr. Wildenstein has sold one two-bedroom on the fifth floor, and he has another 2,520-square-foot two-bedroom on the fifth floor listed for sale for $10 million.

 

Last month, he closed on the purchase of the three apartments on the fourth floor, including the Frank Lloyd Wright suite, and late last week put them back on the market for $46.5 million with Carrie Chiang and Loy Carlos of the Corcoran Group....

 

The storied hotel garnered more public attention this month when Andrei Vavilov, a financier and a deputy finance minister of Russia from 1992 to 1997, accused the sponsors of a “classic bait and switch” in a lawsuit in which he sought to recover a $10 million deposit on a $53.5 million duplex penthouse. The lawsuit said the apartment didn’t measure up to the space and level of luxuriousness promised, and in turn the developer, El-Ad Properties, sued Mr. Vavilov for defamation.

 

Last fall, Mr. Wildenstein went into contract to sell the family’s 29-foot-wide town house at 11 East 64th Street, three doors away from the Wildenstein New York gallery, for $42.5 million. The town house was owned by Mr. Wildenstein’s father, Daniel, who died in 2001. Guy Wildenstein and his family lived there for years, along with his brother, Alec, and his wife, Jocelyne, until they went through a very public divorce years ago. Alec died earlier this year.

 

... the three Wildenstein apartments on the fourth floor, with more than 8,000 square feet, are being offered at $5,800 a square foot.

 

E-mail: bigdeal@nytimes.com