Buyouts

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Features, History, Upper West Side 

15 Central Park West, Robert A.M. Stern

What do you do when you’re a developer who has a 52,000-square-foot property with one tenant…who won’t leave?

While we’ve all heard legends about holdouts in rent-controlled apartments getting big buyouts from deep-pocketed developers, none to date could beat the good fortune of Herbert J. Sukenik. The reclusive septuagenarian lived in his 350-square-foot apartment (which happened to have four exposures and Central Park and two river views) at the Mayflower Hotel for three decades. But he ended up walking away with $17 million, the most money ever paid to a tenant to leave a New York apartment, and walked into an almost-free, 2,200-square-foot, 16th-floor home in the venerable Essex House on Central Park South.

So what happened?