October 10, 2004 -- EXCLUSIVE
A Wall Street financial guru is putting his palatial Fifth Avenue penthouse on the market for a staggering $70 million — the highest-ever asking price for a Manhattan apartment, The Post has learned.
Martin Zweig, an author and hedge-fund manager, will open the doors of his three-story co-op apartment, perched atop the swanky Pierre hotel, to serious bidders Tuesday, real-estate sources said.
The swanky penthouse mansion has 16 rooms covering 11,000 square feet on Floors 41 through 43.
It has nine bedrooms, six baths and two half-baths, six fireplaces, four terraces, heated marble floors and a 2,800-square-foot "grand salon" with 23-foot-high ceilings and ornate chandeliers.
The apartment's $48,000-a- month maintenance fee includes full hotel services, such as room service, twice-daily maid service — with robes, linens and mints on the pillows — and a 24-hour concierge.
Zweig, who's in his 60s, stands to pocket a whopping profit if he finds a buyer — in 1999, he paid a then-record $21.5 million for the over-the-top digs.
He bought it from Australian publishing heiress Lady Mary Fairfax, who first listed the glamorous digs in 1996 for $35 million.
The grand salon, one of the hotel's ballrooms, sat mostly empty from the late 1960s until Lady Fairfax combined it with the apartment for $12 million in 1988.
She then spent the next five years and untold millions renovating.
"I'm very familiar with all the great apartments of New York," said the listing broker in 1996, "and I believe [the grand salon] is the most important room in private ownership."
A few months after Zweig bought the mansion, his record purchase price was shattered when troubled tycoon Saul Steinberg put his 34-room Park Avenue triplex, part of the original 90-room residence of John D. Rockefeller Jr., on the market with an asking price over $45 million.
Investment banker Stephen Schwarzman reportedly paid approximately $37 million for the prewar pad in February 2000.
By November 2000, Manhattan saw yet another record-high asking price when Johnson & Johnson heiress Elizabeth Johnson listed her unfinished 20,000-square-foot condo at Trump International Hotel & Tower for $62 million.
Johnson assembled the gargantuan triplex out of several contiguous apartments, and then opted not to finish the project after a fallout with her hairdresser boyfriend.
After no takers materialized, Johnson eventually remarketed the raw property in their original configurations.
The record sales price for a New York City residence now stands at $42.5 million for a 12,500-square-foot duplex condo at the Time Warner Center purchased by financier David Martinez in 2003.
Some brokers doubt that Zweig will get the full $70 million.
"I'll be very surprised if he gets anywhere near that," one broker said. "You can ask the moon, but reality does eventually set in."
Neither Zweig nor his brokers could be reached at press time.
Zweig started an investment newsletter in the 1970s before entering the lucrative fund business in the 1980s. His stock-picking acumen has been compared to that of fellow market guru Warren Buffett.
- The New York Post