Flatiron Building Auction Fetches $161.5 Million, After 1st Go-Around Ended In Debacle

Jeffrey Gural has clinched the historic triangle-shaped linchpin of Fifth Avenue, after a first auction in March ended in a vanishing act by the highest bidder. He told reporters assembled on the steps of the New York County Courthouse that he sees the building’s future in residential leases.

| 24 May 2023 | 03:43

The Flatiron Building has been purchased for $161.5 million by previous partial-owner Jeffrey Gural after a May 23rd auction on the steps of the New York County Courthouse, officially making him the full-fledged owner of the landmark NYC structure.

This comes after an abortive first auction held in March ended on head-scratching terms, after winner Jacob Garlick (who bid a considerably higher price of $191 million) couldn’t produce the cash to back up his winning bid. Garlick, an apparent neophyte in the city’s real-estate world, was seemingly stymied after not realizing that he would have to come up with nearly the $200 million-dollar payment before he won the auction.

Garlick promptly vanished into the ether afterwards, after failing to make even the initial $19 million deposit needed to formalize the purchase. He was banned from participating in the May auction, and his firm Abraham Trust was sued by stakeholders (including Gural) to recoup the $19 million.

Jeffrey Gural, the now-winning bidder, purchased the historic building through his family firm GFP Real Estate. Citing the slump in the downtown commerical real estate market, Gural said that “we’re thinking of either converting the upper half to apartments and keeping offices on the bottom, or converting the whole thing to apartments.” He estimated that this development could take up to a year-and-a-half. In other words, don’t expect the Flatiron Building to house substantial office space.

The Flatiron Building has been totally empty since 2019, when Macmillan Publishing, which had been there since 2004, became the last tenant to vacate the premises. The building earned its title after being colloquially known as “Eno’s flatiron” in the mid-19th century (named after the developer that owned the corner block, Amos Eno), later becoming a clear reference to its distinctive triangular shape.

Harry S. Black, a vanguard architect and the CEO of the Fuller Company, bought the lot in May of 1901 and built the iconic structure by 1902. It was last auctioned off in March of 1933 during the Great Depression, when it sold for $100,000 to The Equitable Life Assurance Society after a foreclosure on the building’s mortgage payments.

Paying heed to the venerated status of the oddly-shaped skyscraper in the hearts and minds of New Yorkers, Gural told reporters on the steps of the courthouse that “there are three iconic New York buildings: the Empire State, the Chrysler and the Flatiron Building.”

“There are three iconic New York buildings: the Empire State, the Chrysler and the Flatiron Building.”Jeffrey Gural, whose company GFP Real Estate agreed to pay $161 million to acquire the Flatiron Building.