April 12th 2015
New York Daily News
Finally, a Manhattan apartment that’s fit for a king — King Louis XIV, that is.
Ukrainian fertilizer billionaire Alexander Rovt is getting serious about selling his Neoclassical Versailles-style townhouse on the Upper East Side, putting it back on the market for $21.5 million, down from an initial ask of $27 million, the Daily News has learned.
The business magnate has also switched representation, swapping Daniel Messing of Piquet Realty for Jason Haber of Warburg Realty.
Rovt snagged the 12,000-square-foot master of the universe-type property, at 232 E. 63rd St., from Benihana restaurant founder Rocky Aoki for $4.7 million in 2005 — then proceeded to redo it top to bottom to mimic the First Empire style of the 17th-century seat of the French monarchy. The renovation is said to have cost $18 million.
The results are incredible — in both senses of the word: mahogany-paneled walls, hand-painted silk wallpaper, hand-carved moldings, gold leafing, Venetian plaster, Brazilian cherry herringbone floors and antique accents throughout.
“You don’t see Neoclassic design in Manhattan townhouses because it’s just too complicated,” Haber told the Daily News. “This was a global pursuit to find materials and artisans who could do this work. Everything is hand-picked and custom made.”
Security is also paramount in the 15-room house, especially for a billionaire tycoon such as Rovt. There’s a high-tech security system with hidden cameras throughout the house and retractable bulletproof metal shades for the rear windows. There’s also a cigar and billiard room, a movie screening room, a study, a private garage and an outdoor roof terrace.
The piece de resistance? A basement spa with a pool decorated in hand-glazed glass tiles, a sauna, a hot tub and a massage room.
Rovt’s hoping to sell the palatial property to someone with similarly Gaulish tastes, since it would surely be a shame to trash millions of dollars in custom moldings and hand-painted murals.
“It would be an act of vandalism,” Haber said.
Oddly, Rovt never actually lived in the 25-foot house, since he found an even bigger one half way through the five-year renovation. He bought the 36-foot wide Sloane Mansion on E. 68th St. for around $33 million and is now in the midst of a similarly ostentatious renovation.