Last month, billionaire Les Blavatnik, owner of Warner Music and a backer of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical Hamilton, lost a court case in which he alleged that David Wildenstein reneged on a verbal agreement to sell him the townhouse located at 19 East 64th Street. Per the New York Post, Blavatnik claimed that it was part of a ploy by the Wildenstein family to leverage the billionaire’s offer ‘to get a higher price from another buyer.’
Right on cue, the Post was back this week with the news that a sale has been recorded for slightly more than what Blavatnik was offering. Instead of $79 million, the price agreed upon with another buyer was $79.5 million. It’s a new Manhattan record for a townhouse property.
Would Wildenstein, already wealthy, go to all this trouble for an extra $500,000? That seems unlikely. And although Blavatnik’s attorney said they plan to appeal the recent decision, the billionaire’s lack of a written contract will probably do him in again if that action is pursued.
But perhaps the most chilling aspect of all this is the Post’s description of the buyer of the 25,000 square foot property. In many ways, no three words better describe the way real estate rules are being rewritten in top-tier cities these days than “Chinese hedge fund.” (The Real Deal, which reported about this news concurrently on Wednesday, more specifically identifies the buyer as an entity connected to HNA Holdings Group CEO Roy Liao.)
The 64th Street property was re-listed late last year for around what it fetched, after plans to sell it to the government of Qatar for a cool $90 million fell through. The previous record for a New York City townhouse sale was $53 million in 2006.