NYC Luxury Real Estate: Steve Wynn Rolls Dice on Plaza Penthouse

Since the Plaza in New York City began its conversion from hotel to condos in 2004, there's been nothing but controversy. First, what would happen to Eloise, its most famous fictional resident? Then there were the record-breaking prices and the subsequent grumblings, accusations and lawsuits. Even so, the units were snatched up -- bought, if not lived in.

That seems to be the case with a penthouse unit on the 20th floor. Hotel and casino mogul Steve Wynn is now the proud owner of said home, one of the largest units, thanks to the previous buyer's reneging on the contract. According to The Wall Street Journal, that buyer claimed the apartment delivered was markedly different than the one promised. The matter is still bandying about the courts.

The price for such swanky digs?
A mere pittance. Wynn reportedly paid $23 million, a million less than the asking price; though the original asking price in 2007 was $31 million.

We're pretty sure this Streeteasy listing is the unit in question, promising "A nine room penthouse duplex on the Plaza's northwest corner that truly lives like a 'house in the sky.' Accessed by a 45-foot entry foyer with both sweeping circular staircase and private elevator, this classic home offers up to four bedrooms plus a library." It includes a wood-burning fireplace and several terraces.

Should we take that as a reflection of the current market, where the recession has shaved $8 million off the price tag of luxury apartments? Or a sign that the Plaza's conversion is cursed?

According to this report on the state of the luxury market, all's well in the world of high-priced real estate. "Sales have doubled in volume in the first quarter of 2010 versus the same quarter of 2009," writes luxury broker Elizabeth Stribling. "The free fall in spiraling downward prices reached bottom in late summer of 2009 as pent-up demand began to scoop up bargain prices."

If you look at it that way -- a $23 million bargain -- Steve Wynn's gamble just might pay off.

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