UK Vogue, GQ, Tatler, House & Garden Living, September 2007
Julie Earle Levine reports
Picture this. Five hundred of the wealthiest names in New York dancing en-masse in the lobby of a bank on Wall Street. Beyonce is singing on stage surrounded by lithe models, billionaires with bald spots reflecting whirling spotlights, mixed with A-list celebrities. Waiters dart through the crowd with magnums of Krug and Dom Perignon. The Cipriani Wall Street Concert series raises millions of dollars for charity. But there is more beneath the gilded surface of this soiree.
It is never formally announced, but underneath the din, the powerful engine of real estate is purring. Somewhere between the scampi alla thermidor and roasted double lamb chop, concert guests (which have included Naomi Campbell,
The high-end-real-estate frenzy in
‘The Brits talk about little else at dinner parties other than house prices. It would never happen at a French dinner party, but it happens here now all the time’ says Rupert de Forges, partner at Knight Frank LLP, which has about 200-million pounds worth of apartments and 300 million pounds in houses listed in the Knightsbridge office alone.
So what changed? Both
Through their various brokers, the city’s power menagerie compete aggressively for properties. ‘If someone wants a certain penthouse, condo or townhouse they simply get it any way they can – and they pay’, said Raphael de Niro, who has his own group with Prudential Douglas Elliman and is the son of the actor, Robert. Many jump in early before construction starts. Prices for luxury condos in some buildings have jumped 20 per cent since they were sold off-plan.
Just how much have prices for a gorgeous townhouse shot up in
The top end for
Hewlett puts the former Soviet states at the top end of the market. ‘It is the same as in the 1980s, when lots of Hong Kong, Chinese and South-East Asian investors were buying properties in London, and for their families. When you come with 5-10-million pounds and you find nothing, well sometimes budgets can double.’ Savills sold 1.7-billion pounds worth of property last year alone.
Meanwhile, the spate of new buildings in
The property boom in both cities is all about ‘lifestyle’, especially in New York where skyscrapers come with big names- Donald Trump’s new SoHo building, Jade Jagger’s apartments in Chelsea (for YOO with Philippe Starck), hotelier Ian Schrager’s first-ever residential properties, Gramercy Park and 40 Bond Street.
At the Cipriani dinner, one woman likened an apartment she had just seen upstairs to a beautiful jewel box. ‘It is perfect. Everything is completely built in. The refrigerators are completely hidden. There’s African wood. I’m in love with the sinks, they are so stylish.’ But anyone shopping for jewel boxes may be disappointed. The 100-unit building is nearly sold out.