Posted by Leonard Steinberg on March 12, 2011

4 East 80th Street, the house that belonged to Lucille Roberts, the notorious gym diva who passed away in 2003, has hit the market with a whopping $ 90 million asking price. Ms. Roberts bought the 18,000sf mansion for around  $6 million in 1995 and the house underwent substantial renovations to convert it from a men’s gym back to a single family house as originally envisioned by its first owner, Frank Woolworth.

So the big question of the day: is this house worth $ 5,000/sf? Possibly yes, although it certainly would set a record, even for Manhattan mansions. Remember, the richest man in the world Carlos Slim purchased another little shack just down the road (The Duke Semans Mansion) for a mere $ 44 million. And in Euro’s,$ 90 million is only about 65 million….

My suspicion is that the asking price may be all about boosting its rental value: Maybe Mr. Gaddafi or Mr. Mugabe need a refuge from their ailing countries, and with all their hidden billions, this could be a solution, without those pesky co-op boards. Was the interior design a collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Donatella Versace maybe?

So who would buy this property besides the obvious Russian oligarch or Saudi prince (chump change with the recent oil prices!)? Personally  I would love to see Charlie Sheen buy it and deliver a Manhattan-style playboy-mansion of our time. Then again, Donald Trump could convert it into ‘Limestone House’, the alternative to the White House when he becomes our next president, thereby saving taxpayer millions in commuting costs.

Lets face it, if this pricing is a gimmick, it has worked: Even if the house trades for half its asking price, a 400% return on investment (assuming it cost about $ 6million to renovate) in 16 years is not to be sneezed at!

Seriously, this house represents a growing international trend: We first identified it as LUXFLATION, but this could be a sign of HYPER LUXFLATION. We live in a world where the volume of super-wealthy keeps growing, and their demand for the very, very best outstips the supply.