Embattled auction house Sotheby’s has sold its York Avenue headquarters in Manhattan for $175 million to German real estate firm RFR Holding. Sotheby’s will lease the building back from RFR for 40 years.
The building was on the market for several months, and earlier this year it was rumored that a nearby hospital would buy the building and expand in order to expand its operations.
The 258-year old auctioneer spent $140 million to renovate and expand the space, which is opulent and in line with its high-end business, which was recently tarnished by a price-fixing scandal.
The firm’s former chairman, A. Alfred Taubman, is serving a one-year sentence on price-fixing charges. Taubman was forced to pay $186 million to settle a class action suit brought against him by Sotheby’s clients. The company then paid $20 million to the European Union in October over the same price-fixing charges.
Taubman also is the founder of Taubman Centers, one of the nation’s largest mall REITs which has lately been fending off takeover attempts by Simon Property Group. Simon is the largest mall REIT in the United States.
According to Sotheby’s executives, the company expects a $25 million gain from the sale of the building. The rent will be $18 million a year.
RFR Holdings also owns a string of Class-A trophy office buildings in Manhattan, including the Seagram Building and Lever House.