Jeff Bezos increased his already massive stake in 212 5th Ave, closing on Unit 20A early this month with a price tag of $23M. Like most celebrity buyers, he made some attempts to be sneaky about it, purchasing through Gramercy Hudson, LLC. All signs suggest this LLC is primarily a real estate holding company, aka incognito mode for buyers. However, you can find the official property record transaction recorded on August 6th, 2021.
One problem with funneling the purchase through the LLC is that the public can still piece together plenty of details about the LLC, and in doing so, can actually uncover more details and related parties to the transactions. First, note that the Unit 20A buyer, Gramercy Hudson, LLC, has a business address of 1155 Avenue of the Americas, 22nd floor, the address of law firm Perkins Coie. The only other unit on that floor is Unit 20B, purchased in April 2020 by… a Madison Square Park LLC, represented by Perkins Coie, at 1155 Avenue of the Americas! Hmm… is Mr. Bezos going for a massive full-floor conversion?
How Big Is 212 Fifth Avenue, Unit 20A?
Another noteworthy tidbit from the deed is the percent of common interest assigned to the unit. In this case, 20A has 3.3985% of the condo shares. Is that high or low? Normally, Unit 20A suggests there are at least 20 floors, and in fact, 212 5th Ave has 24 floors in total (the penthouse is above 21A and 21B). As it turns out, each floor only has either an “A” or “B” unit, and in total there are 47 residential units and 3 commercial units. The 19th floor only has one unit, and was once the sales gallery and home base for the developer.
Still, 20A has more than its fair share, indicating that the condo sponsor felt 20A, with 4,155 square feet, had considerably more value than the typical unit in the building. For comparison, 20B has 2.3370%. Interestingly, the floorplans suggest the A-line is identical from floors 15-21 (likely the B-line as well). Unit 20A was lasted sold for “only” $18.1M in 2018. Seller “Madison Flatiron Llc” wound up with a fine $3M return in 3 years (we can dig into that seller another day, there is likely a story to unlodge).
Back to Bezos. Yes, he did purchase two units on the same floor and completed his monopoly of the 20th floor. Check out the floor plans and try to guess where he will attempt his grand adjoining door, secret passage, or shared bathroom? Hint: the master bedroom of the A-line shares a wall with bedroom 3 of the B-line.
What Other Units Does Bezos Own at 212 Fifth Avenue?
Once again, Bezos was clever to use a separate LLC per property purchase. But after going through all that trouble to hide his identity, it seems he really only trusts one law firm. Back in 2019, we see the trusty Perkins Coie at 1155 Avenue of the Americas in action again. This time, they are representing 212 Fifth, LLC, located in the penthouse of 212 5th Avenue. This purchase cost $51,550,000.
Whoa! What happened here? So he bought the penthouse over two years ago in June 2019, only to buy Units 20B and 20A over the next two years? Normally when someone purchases more units in a building, they are trying to trade up. In this case, he bought the identical floor plan 2 floors down. Then again, who are we mere mortals to question the actions of geniuses?
Is Jeff Bezos a Genius?
Absolutely, without a question yes, Jeff Bezos is a genius. As the founder of Amazon.com, he is gifted with both book smarts and street smarts. At Princeton, he was part of Phi Betta Kappa, and while the requirements change over time, it’s safe to say some very high GPA is required to be invited. Prior to Amazon, he worked at D. E. Shaw and Co., a still-famous quantitative hedge fund with headquarter in Midtown Manhattan. Not only is D. E. Shaw known for algorithmic trading, but they are also known for having very tough hiring and interviewing processes. They claim to only hire “superstars”, and according to former employees, seeveral of the secretaries have PhDs.
Mystery Solved – Digging Into Madison Square Park, LLC
Back to the Jeff Bezos 212 Fifth Avenue purchases. Things get a little more clear once you go back and analyze his other 2019 buying records. He wasn’t doing the one LLC per one unit rule back then. A search for purchases by Madison Square Park LLC on RealtyHop shows he also bought 21A and 21B in a single $28M transaction, closing in April 2019.
Note that these units are directly below the penthouse – so hopefully the penthouse is some insane multi-story wonder. Otherwise, something needs to make the penthouse worth an extra $33M. Well, Unit PHA has 10.5733% of the common interest, so perhaps it is about 3 times are large as 20A (indeed, the penthouse is a triplex). Btw, if you are getting jealous about the amount of real estate Jeff Bezos owns, keep in mind the carrying costs are significant. Even with no mortgage (why would Bezos need one), the combined condo dues and real estate taxes he pays are $70,000 per month. That gives a whole new meaning to owning real estate free and clear!
A Massive Duplex / Triplex / Quinplex Conversion?
So now the plan should be clear. The penthouse just wasn’t enough. Mr. Bezos systematically scooped up an incredibly massive block of apartments spanning 20, 21, and the penthouse! He owns three complete floors, stacked on top of the other now. It’s no longer about which shared wall will be knocked down in connecting the units. Will he use a grand spiral staircase? Maybe an interior elevator? A fireman’s pole?
What would you do to combine 20A, 20B, 21A, 21B, and the penthouse unit PHA?