New York City: Nicolas Sarkozy's Brother Selling Town House for $11.95M

French president Nicolas Sarkozy may be the more famous Sarkozy brother, but his younger half-brother Olivier Sarkozy is certainly the more moneyed one. Olivier -- or Oliver, as he is known in the U.S. -- is managing director and head of global financial services for the Carlyle Group. Opting for a more downtown Manhattan location, he recently put his uptown townhouse at 407 E. 75th St. on the market for $11.95 million.

That's close to double what he paid back in 2005 when he and his now soon-to-be ex-wife, Charlotte, pictured left, bought the place at $6.75 million for their family.

So where does the French-American finance dude get off adding on an extra 5 million bones to the price tag during a real estate slump?

Well, first of all this isn't your run-of-the-mill, out-of-the-way Upper East Side lair. The Sarkozy pad was previously the famed and fabled former home of fashion and portrait photographer Richard Avedon. The iconic photographer spent over 30 years living and working in the four-story, 8,475-square-foot pad until his death in 2004. The Sarkozys purchased the home a year later, doling out an additional $2 million for custom renovations on the upper three levels.

As art aficionados they opted to respect the greatness of Avedon's career and kept his studio and darkroom intact.
With a divorce part of their reality, the Sarkozys are eager to sell. Oliver has already made his move downtown to the equally epic 436 W. 20th St., a magnificently restored mansion where he's been paying $15,000-plus a month to rent a floor within the Chelsea locale. (Rock singer Courtney Love was briefly a neighbor. She rented another floor in the five-floor townhouse.)

In a way, it's the ground floor studio that's the former carriage house's gem. The well-preserved space is so cool that perhaps it explains why heavily indebted celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz stopped by to look, and not to buy. (Leibovitz has no business looking for new real estate with her financial troubles!)

Avedon's studio saw the likes of pop culture's most cherished and respected. For the fashion- and celebrity-obsessed, the well-preserved photo lab (with a simple archival system for the famous names Avedon photographed, labeled in his handwriting) is thrilling to view. Think: M. Monroe, N. Kinski, S. Loren, B. Shields, etc. The studio, designed as a cyclorama with cornerless walls that round into the floor, creates the illusion of never-ending, continual space. Not the kind of amenities you see every day.

The Sarkozys are no strangers to appreciating art. Their collection of pricey pieces is epic. Their purchased works flank nearly every wall throughout the home. "Anyone who thinks they are moving because of money is crazy," says Michael Bolla, director of sales for Luxury Lofts and Homes, who actually is the broker for 407 E. 75th St. and the landlord for 436 W. 20th St. "The artwork is worth more than the asking price!"

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Jean-Michel Basquiats, Avedons, Rene Ricards and countless other significant modern art pieces decorate their home. Clearly 407 E. 75th St. was renovated to be lived in and enjoyed. The multi-million dollar renovations include an open, state-of-the-art kitchen, 5.5 lime green and azure-blue-tiled bathrooms, flawless wood flooring, seamless windows and a stunning skylight. The impressive shelving installations were kept from Avedon's time. And perhaps for when half-brother Nicolas and wife Carla Bruni are in town, there is a large, private, two-level, 3,000 square-foot zen garden ensconced with birch trees and ideal for entertaining. It's easy to forget you're in Manhattan and a few dozen blocks from say, the UN Building.

So who is likely to buy the place Richard Avedon built his career around and a French financier who happens to be the brother of France's leader once resided in? Not Madonna. "She's already bought three properties in the East End [of the Upper East Side]," says Bolla. "This is not for her. It doesn't have a garage and a garage is Madonna's one demand." (Our guess: Probably not her only demand. Also: the is in fact a potential for building a car garage says Bolla) Chances are good that the next owner will be similar to the Sarkozys who, with two children chose the area because of it's proximity to Manhattan's top private schools.

"It will probably be another Lycee [Francais] family (where the Sarkozy children go), or Brearley, Chapin," says Bolla. "Or someone with a significant art collection. This is a place for someone who wants to live somewhere interesting and not just some old prewar building on the East End. The people who move in here aren't buying because of the address, but because they want a contemporary modern loft-style carriage house that dates back 100 years."

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