The New York Times

A Final Listing for a Beloved Manhattan Broker

By: Vivian Marino
Published: 8/14/2020Source: The New York Times

Featuring Chris Kann and Maria Pashby's listing at 25 Central Park West, Upper West Side, and Corcoran's President and CEO Pamela Liebman

The estate of Robby Browne, a top real estate broker who died of Covid-19, is selling his Central Park West condo, where celebrities and friends once mingled.

Robby Browne brokered countless deals in Manhattan during his long career as a real estate agent, and he also maintained his own portfolio of properties in some of the city’s top buildings.
But he was most at home on the Upper West Side. He loved the architecture, restaurants and proximity to Central Park, which he pedaled through daily on a 10-speed bike to his Madison Avenue office at the Corcoran Group. And above all, he cherished his apartment in the Century Condominium, at 25 Central Park West, with its large, park-facing terrace and sumptuous flower gardens. So much so, that he actually bought it twice.
Mr. Browne would end up spending his final days there before succumbing to Covid-19 on April 11 at age 72.
His two-bedroom, two-bath apartment on the 21st floor of the prewar building is now up for sale by his estate. The asking price is $5.85 million, with $4,276 in monthly carrying costs, according to the listing brokers, Chris Kann and Maria Pashby of Corcoran, his longtime colleagues and team partners.
Mr. Browne’s other real estate holdings are also being sold, including a handful of city apartments (a one-bedroom unit that he owned on the fourth floor of 25 Central Park West just closed at $1.25 million) and a home in the Hamptons (a 4,500-square-foot house on about an acre in Bridgehampton that was listed for $3.95 million and is now in contract after being rented out this summer).
“Selling his real estate is a little bit sad because it brings closure to his life,” said Pamela Liebman, Corcoran’s chief executive and a personal friend. “It’s the end of an era.”
Ranked among the nation’s top sellers for much of his career, Mr. Browne represented many high-profile clients, like the rocker Jon Bon Jovi and the actors Uma Thurman and Alec Baldwin. In 2003, he handled the $43 million sale of a penthouse at the Time Warner Center, which at the time was a record for a single residence in New York City. Outside of work, he was involved in numerous charities, particularly those related to AIDS and L.G.B.T.Q. causes.
Colleagues and friends remember the lavish charitable and social gatherings (even a wedding or two) at the Central Park West apartment. The annual Halloween parties were especially memorable, with Mr. Browne hosting in outrageous costumes. “One year he was a Braniff stewardess,” Mr. Kann said. “He rented airplane chairs and lined them up like a plane.”
The 1,216-square-foot apartment was the place for mingling and networking. “You’d never know who you would bump into,” Ms. Liebman said. “In one room could be an A-list celebrity, and in another someone who was new to New York that he just befriended, and you could have a drag queen in another. It was a total microcosm of society.”
The 800-square-foot landscaped terrace was a source of pride for Mr. Browne and the centerpiece of his parties. “He’d sometimes invite tourists up to his terrace to see the views, and they became lifelong friends,” Mr. Kann said.
All the rooms in the unit, with the exception of the living room, open to the outdoor space. The area is carved out for dining, lounging and sunbathing and includes an outdoor shower and the flower gardens that Mr. Browne had ardently cultivated. “He would pack up the roses and deliver them to people’s desks,” Mr. Kann said.
The home is entered through a central foyer that leads to a 16-by-20-foot sunken living room, with built-in bookshelves flanking its entrance, as well as an eat-in kitchen outfitted with granite countertops and wood cabinets. The main bedroom features an en suite marble bath and a walk-in closet. The second bedroom, which Mr. Browne used as a den, is just off the living room through folding doors, and contains another marble bath.
Ms. Pashby noted that the apartment retains some original prewar finishes including the oak floors and wood moldings, but it also has all new doors and windows and central air-conditioning as part of an extensive renovation.
Mr. Browne first bought unit No. 21K around 1990, reportedly for about $650,000, then sold it in 1997 and moved to the West Village. Homesick for the Upper West Side, he moved back to 25 Central Park West within a year, buying the adjacent No. 21O (their terraces touch), and undertook a gut renovation. Still yearning for his first apartment and preferring its views, he convinced the woman he sold it to, Judith Wohlman, to switch apartments in 2008.
“He wanted it back so badly that he said, ‘Let’s trade, and I’ll give you $500,000 more and pay all your closing costs,’” Ms. Pashby said.
The 33-story Century Condominium, between 62nd and 63rd Streets near Columbus Circle, was built in the early 1930s on the former site of the Century Theater. The building was converted to condos in the late 1980s.
Copyright © 2020 The New York Times Company. Reprinted with Permission. Vivian Marino/The New York Times.