Olsen Twins' NYC Penthouse Sale Points to Luxury Market Rebound


The Olsen twins may be college dropouts, but they weren't going to learn how to turn a profit on a $7.3 million penthouse condo in today's down market with two liberal arts degrees anyway. What Mary Kate and Ashley, now 23 years old, wasted barely attending a few semesters at New York University, they stand to make back -- sort of.

The New York Post's Jennifer Gould Keil reports that there's a roughly $8.45 million deal in the works to finally sell the student housing the sisters purchased six years ago, but never moved into. The potential owner of the Olsen's West Village penthouse is none other than a hedge fund head honcho -- one of the few non-entertainment-industry people who can afford multi-million dollar housing in New York.

"It is a trophy home in a sought-after building in the most blue-chip neighborhood in Manhattan," says Prudential Douglas Elliman's Seth Levin, who actually showed the property to a client back in 2008 when it was priced at $11.995 million. (It's also been listed at $9.45 million.)


"This penthouse is asking $1,475 a square foot which is slightly more than the average asking price of $1,450 a square foot in the building," says Levin. "That makes this a pretty good offering considering the size and expansive views. It's still not the boom days of 2007 for the Manhattan luxury market, but it's definitely [proof] of a nice comeback after the tough year and a half."

So how did the mini-moguls come to have an "extra" home for five years?

Back in 2005 when the girls first became adults, they moved from Los Angeles to New York attempting the biggest role of their careers thus far -- the part of college students leading a semi-normal life. They purchased their very own dorm, a five-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom, 5,725 square penthouse, at 1 Morton Square (left), a Costas Kondylis building located in Manhattan's West Village neighborhood. Before they could pay anyone to pack up their stuff and move it in, the duo allegedly realized how tired they were of sharing everything, and that living together in the Big Apple, or, at least 1 Morton Square just wasn't the kind of "Full House" they wanted.

Now with an $8.45 million sale, the billionaires may collectively come out with a $1.15 million profit. That is, minus the six years the place sat vacant, and the monthly maintenance fees of $5,207 and tax charges of $4,090.

What does that say about the luxury real estate market?

"I believe this profit is coming from the actual lack of inventory available in the high-end market," says Prudential Douglas Ellimans's Frances Katzen. "When you have less product you have an inflated absorption and demand which in turn opens up the possibility for a profit on the limited inventory available. The high-end market is in desperate need of a good caliber product. The West Village in particular has very [limited] supply."

Sotheby's Tom Doyle agrees with the West Village assessment. "There are a limited amount of large scale apartments available in the West Village [and] there has been a flurry of activity in the high-end market over the past couple of months. It makes sense that this place would sell now."

The profit on the Morton Square penthouse is most definitely not a fluke, but is apropos to the luxury market, says Prudential Douglas Elliman's Lisa Maysonet. According to her research she'd found several examples of properties that sold between 2005 and 2006 and then resold in 2009 and 2010 with profits upwards to 28.5 percent.

"Overall there has been a 21.2 percent increase in the median sales price just since last quarter," says Maysonet. "The inventory, if you compare Q1 of this year to the Q1 of last year, has decreased by 6.7 percent. So to sum it up, less inventory with an increase in price is where the luxury market stands as of today."

Profits and years of unused housing aside, the new owners who presumably will actually live in the property will be landing impressive digs. Details include 53 large picture windows, a private elevator landing with double doors that open to almost 55 feet of party space that includes a glass-enclosed wood-burning fireplace. The Olsens wouldn't have bothered with any NYU dining halls so the just under 22-by-18-foot eat-in kitchen with a home office, walk-in pantry, a "king-sized" island would have been perfect for a private chef, who also would have enjoyed the Viking professional six-burner stove.

Perhaps the fact that there is only one master suite and then four regular big bedrooms is the reason the two didn't settle on making the move. Which Olsen would have scored the views of the Statue Of Liberty, the large private dressing room/home office, or, the over-sized walk-in closet? Plus, there are only so many pint-sized stars (or egos) that can fit into one luxury building. Other tenants of 1 Morton Square include: funny couple Amy Poehler and Will Arnett who bought and sold and bought bigger in the building, along with Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, who paid $4.9 million in 2008 while he worked on his Broadway play "Equus."

In the wise words of the Olsens' shared "Full House" character, Michelle Tanner, it's easy to imagine them saying: "Not bad, dude." And echoing the sentiment, CitiHabitat's Sandy Edry says:

"This is yet another indication that the luxury end in Manhattan is roaring back. We're thankfully not back to the ridiculous highs of the bubble, but, at least for the city's wealthiest, the recession has faded into a distant bad dream."

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