Inside Wealth

Residential Rejections of the Rich and Famous

Residential Rejections

Photo: Stephen Lovekin | Getty Images

We think few doors are closed to the rich and famous. But for celebrities aspiring to buy co-op apartments in New York City, that isn't necessarily true.

Buying a co-op — or cooperative apartment — differs from buying a regular apartment or condo. In a co-op, the buyer's bid is subject to approval from the building's board of directors. Each candidate is bidding to become a shareholder, buying a membership in a cooperative. Consequently, new members are rigorously screened.

Carol Levy, a broker specializing in high-end co-ops and condos for Carol E. Levy Real Estate in New York City, compiled a list of reasons for co-op board rejections. It includes common criteria co-op boards consider such as financial status, job history and bad credit. But there are more opaque factors such as lifestyle, which Levy said, includes a "paparazzi prone rock star" and disruptive lifestyle. Even a poor interview (or "pet interview," a meeting with a potential neighbors' animal, required by some boards) can ruin a potential buyer's chances.

And even CEOs and a former U.S. President haven't been immune to a co-op board's scrutiny. Why are they rejected? While gossip-column speculation inevitably follows such rejection news, co-op boards don't specify their reasons, lest they be sued.

Click ahead to see who has been turned down from upscale residences.

By Colleen Kane
Posted 6 November, 2012

Ronald Perelman

Photo: Brad Barket | Getty Images, Inset: Google Maps

With a net worth of $12 billion, Ron Perelman is the 26th richest American, but his fortune didn't guarantee the Revlon tycoon a place to live at 820 Fifth Avenue. The same co-op board rejected Steve Wynn, chief executive of Wynn Resorts, and a 2009 $31 million bid from developer Jeff Blau, president of Related Companies. Tommy Hilfiger made it past the board, and owned the apartment Perelman had his eye on, but never lived there. The approved buyer eventually was Kenneth Griffin, chief executive of Citadel Investment Group. Perelman has also been rejected from two other co-ops: 4 East 66th Street and 834 Fifth Avenue, the New York Observer reports.

Calvin Klein

Photo: Franco Origlia | Getty Images, Inset: Paul Churcher | Flickr

The dual-towered San Remo on Central Park West "has a reputation for lenient admissions standards" compared to the older-money co-ops to the East, according to "The Sky's the Limit: Passion and Property in Manhattan" by Steven Gaines. But famed fashion designer Calvin Klein did not make the cut. The co-op did, however, permit his fellow fashionista Donna Karan, according to the New York Observer.


Photo: Christopher Polk | Getty Images, Inset: Paul Churcher | Flickr

She's one of the most powerful women in music, but the San Remo turned down her co-op application, despite having housed other glamorous and sometimes controversial entertainers such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and Hedy Lamarr.

Madonna was also rejected from the building, where John Lennon and other show-business names have lived.

Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith

Photo: Jason Merritt | Getty Images, Inset: Half Sigma | Flickr

Three blocks south of the San Remo on Central Park West is the , best known as John Lennon's last home, and the site of his murder. But it's also famous for being home to numerous other entertainers and high-profile figures — and for rejecting them. Among the rejections are the Hollywood couple Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, Cher, Billy Joel, Carly Simon and Alex Rodriguez. More recently, the Dakota board has declined director Judd Apatow and actress Tea Leoni.

Rush Limbaugh

Photo: Bill Pugliano | Getty Images, Inset: Google Maps

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh was one of several bidders turned down to buy an apartment at 322 East 57th Street owned by Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford, according to an article in New York magazine. Also denied were entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman and David Feld, founder of Today's Man.

Mariah Carey

Photo: Michael Loccisano | Getty Images, Inset: Google Maps

When Barbra Streisand's triplex penthouse at The Ardsley on Central Park West went up for sale in 1999, fellow diva Mariah Carey put in a bid to buy it for $8 million. The co-op board sang a different tune. Carey instead bought a new condo downtown, according to the Observer.

Barbra Streisand

Photo: Jeff Fusco | Getty Images, Inset: Google Maps

That brings us to Babs herself. In the entertainment business a lot longer than Mariah Carey, she has a longer list of co-op board rebuffs. The co-op at 740 Park Avenue (pictured here), built by Jackie Kennedy Onassis' grandfather James T. Lee, and the future Mrs. JFK's onetime home, denied Streisand residence, according to the Observer. She's in good company: Elizabeth Taylor was also rejected, along with Neil Sedaka and Barbara Walters.

According to an article in New York magazine a year after a pair of 1969 co-op rejections, Streisand was rejected by 1021 Park Avenue due to being "a flamboyant type," and rejected by 1107 Fifth Avenue because she was likely to set up a recording studio.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images, Inset: Google Maps

Earlier this year, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, the prime minister of Qatar, who is also the owner of Harrods, was turned down in an attempt to buy two apartments on Fifth Avenue belonging to the reclusive heiress Huguette Clark, who died last year, according to the New York Post. According to, Sheik Hamad would be a challenging tenant as he has diplomatic immunity and enforcing payment if he had any financial troubles would be challenging.

He was later reported as a possible buyer of a a nearly $100 million duplex penthouse at One57, the luxury apartment building and site of the crane left dangling by Superstorm Sandy, and he eventually settled for a $47 million townhouse on the Upper East Side.

Richard Nixon

Photo: Credit | Getty ImagesInset: Google Maps

The building at 19 East 72nd Street is considered one of the most difficult non-Park and Fifth Avenue buildings to get into, according to an article in the New York Observer, which quotes one anonymous top broker's insight: "You wouldn't bring in a rap singer into 19 East 72nd Street — just as you wouldn't take 19 East 72nd into some rap building. They're divergent cultures."

Richard Nixon appears to fall more into the "19 East 72nd Street" category than rap singer. But in 1979 when he was looking to buy, the post-Watergate scandal president also came with an entourage, not to mention notoriety. The board initially approved him, then retracted their approval when shareholders revolted, according to The New York Times.

After more house-hunting travails in New York City, the Nixons bought a home in Saddle River, N.J.