Cool NYC Condo Just $1,136!

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Herzog + de Meuron 56 LeonardOnce upon a time, owning a piece of 56 Leonard Street – a condo tower designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron – would have set you back at least $3.5 million.

Today, the building sold on-line for just over $1,000.

The item unloaded on eBay was a 20-inch model of the tower, "made as as a sales tool for brokers to help demonstrate the position of each unit" in the building, according to Richard Pandiscio, who handled marketing for Alexico, the developer of 56 Leonard. The models were made of 120 individually engraved Lucite pieces, which could be taken apart and then put back together.

But the building itself was never put together. These days, 56 Leonard is an empty lot.

And the Lucite models were gathering dust in brokers' offices.

The models were nominally part of an edition of 300, but Pandiscio doesn't think more than 100 were ever made. The seller was anonymous, as was the buyer, who paid $1,136 in a last-minute bid.

Herzog and de Meuron weren't the only starchitects to design ill-fated Manhattan condo buildings -- another one, by Rem Koolhaas, was supposed to rise on 23rd Street. It, too, is stalled. But all kinds of promotional materials – including, yes, plastic models – were made and distributed before the developer pulled the plug.

Don't be surprised if those models start turning up at auction, too.

In fact, these days, eBay may be the best place to see a condo bidding war.
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