Mexico’s richest man lists $80M NYC mansion and it could break records

The Benjamin N. Duke House in Manhattan has been listed for US$80 million, and stands to be the most expensive townhouse ever sold in New York City. Compass

You know you’re rich when your house has a name.

Manhattan’s palatial Benjamin N. Duke House is on the market, offering house hunters a rare chance to own a piece of New York history. If they can cough up tens of millions of dollars, that is.

Located at 1009 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the Duke House is described as “one of the last remnants of the luxurious mansions along Fifth Avenue facing Central Park that remain in private hands.”

An interior room in the Benjamin N. Duke House. Compass

This stretch of Fifth Ave. was known as Millionaire’s Row around the turn of the century, though you might need to be closer to a billionaire to afford living there now. New York City royalty, including the Vanderbilts and the Astors, built their family residences here and the street remains an iconic hub for museums, shopping and entertainment.

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The exterior of the Benjamin N. Duke House in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Compass

The Duke House was built from 1899-1901 and the property covers 20,000 square feet over eight floors. It was designed in the “Italian Renaissance palazzo style with strong Beaux Arts elements,” according to the listing. With 25 rooms, including eight beds and 10 bathrooms, this spacious townhouse is massive by Manhattan standards.

And the asking price reflects that, coming in at a whopping US$80 million. The property tax alone is $23,000 per month.

One of several entertainment areas in the Duke House with coffered ceilings. Compass

In 2015, the home was listed for the same price and broke a record at the time for the priciest townhouse for sale in New York City — but it never sold. Now it’s on sale again, and while it’s no longer the recordholder for most expensive listing, if it sells for the asking price of $80 million, it stands to be the most expensive townhouse ever sold in Manhattan.

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The limestone and red-brick manor spans 27 feet along Fifth Ave. and 100 feet along 82nd Street. Its grand rooms boast high ceilings, ornate mouldings and large windows through which observers can take in the front steps of the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art, right across the street.

View of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Duke House’s terrace. Compass

A grand staircase climbs five floors to the upper floors of the residence, where a terrace and rooftop provide “breathtaking views of Central Park and the city skyline,” the listing reads. The home is also adorned with a marble fireplace.

“The building can be reimagined as a private residence or converted into a gallery, store, museum, or foundation given its prime location across the Met Museum,” the listing adds.

Grand staircase of the Benjamin N. Duke House. Compass

The home is currently owned by Mexico’s richest billionaire, telecom magnate Carlos Slim Helú, who bought the residence in 2010 for $44 million as a place for him to stay in New York while attending business meetings.

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The Duke House actually wasn’t custom-built for a specific family, as was typical with many of New York’s iconic residences. It was built speculatively by developers because they knew how in demand this stretch of Fifth Ave was among the city’s elite.

Shortly after it was completed, the home was purchased by Benjamin N. Duke, who was chairman of the American Tobacco Co. at the time. The home stayed in the Duke family until 2006, when the townhouse was sold for $40 million to real estate mogul Tamir Sapir. Sapir later sold it to Slim.

The Duke House is a designated New York City Landmark and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.


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