985 fifth avenue.jpgNew York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, soon to be crowned the state’s next governor, has a very wealthy — and very generous — father. Bernard Spitzer, a real estate mogul worth some $500 million, provides his 47-year-old son with free housing.
In Manhattan. On the Upper East Side. On Fifth Avenue. From TaxProf Blog:

Spitzer has lived rent-free with his family at 985 Fifth Ave. for 13 years. The 25-story tower off 79th St. has just two apartments per floor and terraces that look down at the Metropolitan Museum of Art….

Thanks to his dad’s generosity, Spitzer, his wife and three daughters have lived in a home graced with at least three bedrooms, four baths, a balcony, library and sweeping vistas of Central Park….

Vetted by lawyers and accountants, the living arrangement is both lawful and proper, said Darren Dopp, Spitzer’s communications director: The father pays an annual gift tax on the present he gives his son….

The market value of the gift is reported annually on real estate tax filings and on Bernard Spitzer’s tax returns. But citing privacy, Dopp declined to disclose the apartment’s rent, the gift’s value or the amount of the gift tax paid. Three real estate brokers familiar with the building say that a spread of comparable size could lease for $16,000 to $20,000 a month. That puts the gift’s current value at an estimated $192,000 to $240,000 a year.

The Daily News makes 985 Fifth Avenue sound like one of New York’s finest apartment houses. And an annual gift of free rent worth almost a quarter of a million dollars is nothing to scoff at. After all, Fifth Avenue is Fifth Avenue.
But if you’ll allow us to nitpick, nobody would mistake 985 Fifth Avenue for one of the avenue’s “best” buildings (e.g., 820 Fifth Avenue, 834 Fifth Avenue). After all, nine-eighty-five did not make Tom Wolfe’s 1985 list of “Good Buildings” — and this should come as no surprise. It’s not a co-op, but a rental building; it’s not prewar, but from 1968 (a dubious year for residential architecture); and it’s made of yellow brick, not limestone (or even red brick).
How can Eliot Spitzer stand to live in such a déclassé building? Now his disturbingly fervent hunger for the governor’s mansion makes perfect sense.
Of course, there are other lawyers who receive even grander parental largesse on the real estate front. For example, Robert Smit — a partner at Simpson Thacher, where profits per partner averaged $2.37 million in 2005 — lives with his family in his dad’s $29 million mansion. (We assume he lives there for free, but haven’t verified this; if you know, please let us know.)
Eliot Spitzer and the Gift Tax [TaxProf Blog]
Empire of the Son: Spitzer reaps fortune from dad’s real estate smarts [New York Daily News]
985 Fifth Avenue [The Upper East Side Book]
Earlier: Lawyerly Lairs: Professor Smit’s Uptown Mansion


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