Wednesday, July 25, 2012

La Comedie Humaine

The recent sale of the apartment occupied by Huguette M. Clark at 907 Fifth reads like a Balzac novel. Clark who actually spent the last years of her life in a special suite of rooms at Beth Israel Medical Center was the inheritor of a copper fortune and left according to the Times “a $400 million estate, two contested wills and no direct heirs.” (“Big Ticket/ Sold for $25.5 Million," NYT, 7/20/12) The apartment 12W was bought by Boaz Weinstein, the Hedge fund trader who held the other side of the now infamous London Whale in which JP Morgan’s lost its shirt. In the light of the continued problems with the trade (on which Weinstein undoubtedly profited handsomely) and the Libor scandal (in which JP Morgan was also implicated) the Times ran a front page picture of the once highly touted and now beleaguered JP Morgan chairman Jamie Dimon. Fortunes come and go as do major Manhattan residences. Recently the 15 CPW penthouse of former Citibank honcho Sandy Weill was sold to another heiress Ekaterina Rybolovlev, the daughter of the Russian potash billionaire, Dimitry Rybolovlev (whose mines have created sinkholes in the town of Berezniki) for a record breaking $88 million—which makes the $25.5 million Weinstein paid for his place at 907 Fifth seem like a pittance.  Actually Huguette Clark owned two other apartments in 907, 8E and 8W. As the Times also reported  Quatar’s Sheik Hamad bin Jaber al-Thani's $31 million offer for these “was turned down by the co-op board  because he wished to combine them.” Could the co op board’s fear about the residual effects of Arab spring have had an effect on the rejection? Balzac would have undoubtedly been fascinated by the lineage of acquisition with respect  to all three of Clark’s apartments and how they came to reflect the politics and economics of their time. But he would also have been interested in the mysterious inhabitant of these auspicious residences and how and why she recused herself from history.


  1. Interesting observations about Clark though the reference to Rybolovlevs and sinkholes seems a bit below the belt. The NYT covered this issue recently and said that a government commission in 2008 cleared Rybolovlev of any wrongdoing and blamed past unsafe practices for the sinkholes

  2. And I quote from Andrew Kramer’s New York Times Story, "A government commission in 2008 cleared Mr. Rybolovlev, the fertilizer tycoon, of wrongdoing, blaming past unsafe practices for the sinkholes.

    But a senior official close to Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin has said that Uralkali and Mr. Rybolovlev bear some responsibility, even though Mr. Rybolovlev, whose principal residence is in Monaco, sold the mine after the Grandfather opened."


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