Foreclosure auction set for multi-million dollar Fifth Avenue co-op opposite the Met Museum

1016 Fifth Avenue

Update (11:22 a.m.): Auction will not take place as scheduled.

A co-op in a prestigious Fifth Avenue building on the Upper East Side is to be sold in a foreclosure auction scheduled for Thursday.

Rare for such an apartment, the sale appears to have resulted from the death of one Rita Haberman, about whom I could find no reliable information.  (Update: More about Haberman and her estate here.)

At 1016 Fifth Avenue, on the southwest corner of 83rd Street and across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Unit 8D likely has a value of more than $3 million.

By comparison, Unit 10D provides 541 shares and 8D, 510.  The higher co-op is listed as a seven-room, 2,200-sf apartment with two bedrooms and one and a half baths, though I see more on its floorplan below.  It is on the market for $3.5 million.

Unit 10D in same building

The building currently has three units on the market ranging in price from $2.995 million (#4C, which is under contract) to $4.975 million.  The average price per square foot of active listings has slipped slightly in the last year to $1,591 from $1,763 the previous 12 months.

A combined unit on the 3rd floor went for $9.2 million a year and a half ago and a couple of two-bedrooms in the B line sold for an average of $3.85 million.  So 1016 Fifth Avenue hardly could be described as a working-class building, unless the residents work on Wall Street.

According to a legal notice by Fred L. Seeman, attorney for the cooperative corporation, the auction is based on the shareholder’s default on maintenance.  More than that I cannot relate.

Two weeks ago last Friday, I called Seeman in the morning and spoke to a Wilson Chow, who answered the phone.  After listening to the reason for my call, he then e-mailed me with the most unusual request that I ever received from a lawyer during my many years as a professional journalist:

Please be advised that any correspondences regarding the auction of 1016 Fifth Avenue and its publication should be communicated through e-mail.  You can e-mail any information that you require to Alex Tavarez ( and/or Fred Seeman (

Despite the strangeness of the request, I dutifully responded quickly with a list of a dozen or so routine questions about the situation, Haberman and auction details.  I still am awaiting a response to that e-mail and two subsequent e-mails mildly asking when I might hear from them, plus frequent telephone calls to a number that clearly was out of order.

To be fair, the firm’s offices are on lower Broadway and Sandy did, after all, intervene.  Naturally, I’m sympathetic to the straits in which Seeman must have found himself, and I understand that I couldn’t be at the top of his list of priorities.  Still. . .

Although not working for most of two weeks, the phones started ringing normally again by Saturday.  So I left a message, which has gone unanswered.

My original e-mail was well before the storm struck, and it is inconceivable to me that Seeman and his colleague do not have the capacity on their smart phones to have made at least an interim reply indicating the expectation of a response in the future.  Or none at all, however odd that would be under the circumstances.

The sparse auction information I do have indicates that the event is to take place at 2:30 p.m. in the rotunda of the State Supreme Court, 60 Centre St. in Manhattan.  The auctioneer is William Mannion.

The sale is subject to any prior liens, outstanding maintenance charges and the building’s legal fees.  Should the board reject the winning bidder, the contract will be voided.  If so, the deposit will be returned, a likely outcome that I had sought to confirm with the lawyers.

Seeking to provide readers with plenty of notice of the sale, I had planned to publish this post weeks ago.

With the auction fast approaching and knowing the desirability of attracting as many bidders as possible, I nonetheless repeatedly postponed publication, reluctantly, until I finally determined that this blog would have to run by yesterday to include only whatever information was available until then — without the lawyers’ help.

But when the firm’s phones started working, I decided to give it yet another day in what has proved to be an irrational hope that I’d finally receive an answer to the e-mail that I sent on Oct. 26 in response to the lawyers’ unusual requirement in such an ordinary situation.

Since the phone lines apparently have been repaired, maybe interested readers will be able to get any answers they might need from the law firm, the number of which is 212-608-5000.  (I have it memorized.)  Or you may have better results than I did with e-mails.

Good luck with that!

Tomorrow: High expectations

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
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