EVERYTHING about Madonna is larger than life, from her record sales to her glittery costumes, to her recent legal battle to adopt a child in Malawi, to the price she paid for a 57-foot-wide town house on the outer fringes of the Upper East Side.
Brokers scoffed at her foolishness when it was reported that she was in contract to buy a sprawling Georgian-style town house in the sticks, a k a far East 81st Street, for $40 million. The place was nowhere near the elite homes of Fifth Avenue, beyond the lower-status Lexington Avenue and many blocks from the hallowed soil of Central Park.
But last week, when she closed on the purchase, it turned out the hard-working Material Girl, sweating her way through another world tour at age 50, had not lost her street smarts. The rock star, born Madonna Louise Ciccone of Bay City, Mich., actually received a significant discount. She paid only $32.5 million, according to brokers briefed on the transaction.
The final purchase price works out to a 28 percent discount from the $45 million price tag of the original listing, by Louise Beit of Sotheby's International Real Estate. The property was listed last October, after the death of the longtime owner, Louise H. Saurel.
Wendy Maitland, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens who has represented Madonna in the past, declined to discuss the transaction.
The sale would still make it the highest town house sale in the anemic first half of 2009, but not out of line with recent sales of much smaller town houses in that neighborhood.
Last year at the peak of the market, a 19-foot-wide town house on far East 78th Street sold for $9.5 million, or about $2,750 a square foot. The price per square foot paid by Madonna in a weaker market was about the same, but one could argue she got a lot more in the deal.
With 57 feet of street frontage, her new mansion is one of the widest town houses in Manhattan, combining what appear to have once been three separate town houses. According to the listing, the house has 26 rooms, including a 38-foot-wide drawing room and 13 bedrooms. There are 9 fireplaces, 11-foot ceilings and, in the rear, a 3,000-square-foot garden. Who needs Central Park when your backyard is park size?
If the house isn't big enough, its size can be doubled under current zoning, and unlike those precious buildings on Fifth Avenue, it is situated beyond the purview of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. In any event, with a two-car garage on the premises, the new owner could whisk her children to the park by limousine in about as much time as it would take to go by elevator from a Fifth Avenue penthouse to the lobby.nytimes