Wilbur Ross made his billions as a “vulture investor” purchasing distressed assets, as they are called, and now he’s made another killing—a 14-room flat in the stately art-deco River House.
If history is a guide, it won’t be long before he and wife Hilary Geary will be answering the doorbell and welcoming Mario Buatta, lugging six bolts of chintz, into the 5,000-square-foot duplex overlooking the East River.
The Rosses nailed this bargain-of-a-lifetime in federal bankruptcy court for a paltry 7.8 million dollars after the owner, Arlene Farkas, filed Chapter 11 while facing a bank foreclosure. She had originally listed the apartment in 2008 for $15 million (closer to its real value). Two higher bidders had been rejected by the notoriously picky River House board, according to the WSJ.
Ironically—life is often irony, is it not—Wilbur himself had been rejected by the same board in the 1990s when he was married to Betsy McCaughey, then the outspoken and controversial lieutenant governor of New York under George Pataki (she later turned on him and ran against him).
Now he and Hilary, who writes a society column in Quest, will be living alongside Henry and Nancy Kissinger, Francesco and Marina Galesi, Uma Thurman, and Elizabeth Kabler.
The Rosses will be giving up their penthouse across from Carnegie Hall that was once the setting for spectacular balls given by the well-connected publicist Earl Blackwell. It was beautifully tarted up by Buatta’s deft touch, but the ancient elevator was a bit erratic, and at a recent party some of Hilary’s guests had a 45-minute pause while descending.
Another reason to flee their current abode is the unsightly mega-monster One57, now looming next door over their exquisite 75-foot-long terrace. Every time they glanced up, they saw Chinese and Russian faces peering down. They won’t have that problem in Sutton Place.