Indebted France sells Park Avenue Duplex for $48 Million

A living room filled with furniture and a fire place

French Morning made the announcement a year ago, but now what was then merely eventuality has become a reality: France has put it’s UN ambassador’s residence up for sale at the staggering price of $48 million.

The sale is part of a plan by the French government to save money by selling some of its prime New York real estate, including another building that houses diplomats at 5th Avenue and 95th (for $32 million). The properties should make a handsome profit: France had bought the ambassador’s residence in 1979 for $600,000 (or 2 million in today’s dollars).

In the world of New York real estate, the sale constitutes something of an event not least because the duplex is located at one of the city’s most prestigious (if not notorious) addresses: 740 Park Avenue, nicknamed “the billionaire’s building.” It’s home to some of America’s richest, including David Koch, Estée Lauder, hedge fund guru Stephen Scharzman, and fashion designer Vera Wang.

A perusal of the listings by Sotheby’s International and Brown Harris Stevens shows photos of entry, the living room, and a dining room measuring 600 square feet, but no images of the ambassador’s private apartments located upstairs. Two years ago a comparable residence was sold for $52 million and another occupying the 2nd and 3rd floors is currently up for grabs at $32.5 million. The listing price of the ambassador’s residence is “therefor reasonable” assures a real estate expert who also explains that “given the excellent health of the market at this time, the property could very well sell above asking price.”

But before you billionaires go picking window treatments, be forewarned: 740 Park is a co-op, and perhaps the most selective co-op in the world. Un-written criteria for permission to reside in the elite address include possession of at least four-times the sale price of the property in cash available immediately (finally a way to use the $200 million you’ve got lying around!) and of course let’s not forget monthly fees to the tune of $24,000.

As if outrageous fortune wasn’t enough of a deterrent for most of society, there are additional criteria to meet in order to be considered a prospective buyer. The co-op board apparently likes their billionaires discreet. Foreign money from a dubious provenance is a major red flag, as well as having a lifestyle that might be deemed too eccentric. Author Michael Gross who penned a book on the building entitled 740 Park, gives the example of legendary star of stage and screen Barbara Streisand who was refused the right to buy at that address.

But what, you may ask, is to become of France’s UN ambassador? Gérard Araud currently holds the job but will be leaving this summer and is to be replaced by Jacquss Audibert. For him, the French government is in the process of buying a new flat on the East River in the neighborhood of Sutton Place. When contacted for comment, the French mission refused to confirm the still-to-be completed transaction or its price tag, but a New York real estate expert assures French Morning that the new residence should go “for a much lesser sum than the sale price of 740.”

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