In 2014, the Wildensteins thought they’d pulled off the biggest real estate coup in New York. The billionaire art dealing family, whose gallery, Wildenstein & Co. had owned its 21,000-square-foot townhouse on East 64th Street for more than 80 years, signed a deal with the government of Qatar to sell the limestone-clad building for a reported $90 million. Qatar planned to use the building as a consulate, and the Wildensteins, embroiled in a half-billion dollar tax case in France, would get a healthy injection of liquidity.
But Qatar pulled out just one day before the closing date, claiming that Guy Wildenstein, the de facto family patriarch, had violated money laundering laws. In a subsequent suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Wildensteins countered that Qatar was reneging on the deal because of uncomfortable publicity surrounding what was then a record-breaking sale.
After the Wildensteins sued (they asked for 10 percent of the agreed-upon purchase price, and the case was settled out of court in May 2016) the building was taken off the market. Now, though, Wildenstein & Co. is trying its luck again. It has relisted the townhouse for a cool $100 million and alternately, offered it at undisclosed terms for long-term lease. (The building’s brokers did not return a request for comment; Guy Wildenstein, through a lawyer, declined to comment.)
The listing offers no interior images. The only clue to the mansion's opulent interior— the stuff of New York lore— is the listing's mention that on the third floor, “an entire paneled salon that was in Talleyrand’s 18th Century Parisian townhouse has been re-assembled within the building as an executive office.” The building also has a paneled elevator, a “sweeping” staircase, and 20-foot-high ceilings on three floors.
The building is the latest in a string of high priced, low-profile assets the family has put on the market. In June, the Real Deal reported that the residence of Guy Wildenstein, a double-wide, five-bedroom mansion on midtown Manhattan's exclusive Sutton Square—is on the market for $48.5 million. (It was bought in 2008 for $32.5 million.) And two weeks ago, Goffs, the Irish auction house, announced that it would sell 110 horses from the Wildenstein family’s famed racing stables over the course of three days, starting on Sept. 28.
The sole class of asset that the family has not (recently) sold publicly for large sums is what made it rich in the first place: art. In the tax case expected to come to trial later this year, the French government uncovered a trust comprising artworks valued at more than $1 billion, though the full extent of the holdings— or what exactly is inside the trust—remains unknown. Given the recent cascade of assets to hit the market though, potential buyers might soon find out.