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After 15-Years, Will Its $19.75M Listing Finally Sell the ‘Versailles in Manhattan’?



Since April 2003, the “Versailles in Manhattan” located near Lexington Avenue at 163 E. 64th Street has remained unsold, floating back and forth between on and off the market.

While this, 15-room neo-Georgian townhouse has been praised by brokers as an “architectural masterpiece,” others have labeled it as “unsellable.”

It has just returned to the market with a reasonable price tag of $19.75 million, after 15 years on and off for much higher prices. (Photo Credit: Douglas Elliman)

Over the last 15 years, the circa-1872 mansion’s, featuring ornate, belle epoque and Louis XIV-style interiors, owner and commercial real estate broker Kenneth Laub has hired more than 12 different teams of residential brokers in attempts to sell the five-bedroom townhouse. The property, which was listed for as much as $35 million in December 2007, has been newly co-listed with Douglas Elliman and Corcoran with a significantly more reasonable asking price of $19.75 million.

City real estate experts told The Post that 163 E. seems to have set the record for the longest time a Manhattan townhouse has spent going on and off the market. The Post reports, “It’s become the laughingstock of the brokerage world, viewed as a casualty of location, price inflation and an ego-driven seller living in a fantasy land.”

An expert on Manhattan townhouses told The Post, “You’d like to think that an owner would learn after seven, eight brokers in that period of time. Initially, [sellers] have aspirations, and they want to ask 15 or 20 percent more than what it’s worth. If you linger, then [you’re] not a real seller, or you’re so far off from where the market is.”

The renowned Gold Coast Architect, John G. Prague, originally constructed the townhouse in 1872, and it was later lived in and reimagined by infamous architect R.D. Graham. (Photo Credit: Douglas Elliman)

The 79-year old Laub spoke to the Observer about the property back in 2009, when he was still asking $35 million for it. He told the news outlet, “If I’m overpriced then so be it. If someone feels that the house is worth what I think it is worth, then they’ll buy it. And if not, then they won’t. And it’s not the end of the world one way or another.”

According to The Post, “That said, Laub — who reportedly purchased the home in 1986 for $4 million and lives there alone — has reduced the price considerably, although the discounts seem to give him cold feet. He dropped the ask to $29.95 million in July 2011, then $27.5 million in June 2013. He took the home off the market between December 2013 and July 2014, when it returned for $27.5 million. In February 2015, the price slipped to $25 million, falling to $23.9 million eight months later — only for the listing to disappear once again. In April 2017, the townhouse returned with a $25 million price tag, then hit $23.9 million that same year before Laub changed his mind again.”

It seems that the owner has finally decided to bring the price down into a realistic range, and if left on the market long enough someone may actually purchase the townhouse, which some brokers question Laub’s desire to actually sell the majestic property.

The neo-Georgian townhouse is 20-feet wide and has about 8,000 square feet spread across four stories plus a finished basement. (Photo Credit: Douglas Elliman)

According to the property’s listing with Douglas Elliman, it dons “an exterior facade of raked limestone and red clay brick and an elegant entry forecourt with separate service entrance and radiant heat sidewalk for effortless snow removal. Noted as one of the most distinguished townhouses in New York, 163 East 64th Street features 15 well-proportioned rooms with expansive 90′-deep floorplates, 5 bedroom suites, 8 fireplaces, 8 marble baths, a designer elevator servicing all floors including the European designed rooftop garden, original English pine library dating to 1872, a lavish Belle Époque bar area with Lalique-styled glass ceiling providing stunning interior illumination, and a wonderful Louis XIV-style living room with 10 canvas panels inspired by the Fragonard Room of the Frick Collection. Additional features include a full-height basement with a window, a temperature controlled wine room, backup generator, cedar closets, a private gymnasium, and state-of-the-art AV systems.”

According to a Comparables report, 36 similar properties that are currently listed in Lenox Hill and contain over 5,000 square feet, have an average price of $25.1 million and average record sale for the range are at $21.82 million.

This would mean the property’s $19.75 million price range is actually below the area’s current averages, so with fingers cross, it may be time for the “Versailles in Manhattan” to finally change hands.

By: Carol LaQuasio

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