Biglaw, Fabulosity, Federal Judges, Judicial Divas, Lawyerly Lairs, Loretta Preska, Money, Partner Issues, Real Estate, S.D.N.Y.

Lawyerly Lairs: A Judicial Diva’s $8.7 Million Penthouse

Chief Judge Loretta Preska

According to Black’s Law Dictionary (affiliate link), a judicial diva is “a particularly confident, skilled, and physically attractive female judge.” By this definition, Chief Judge Loretta Preska (S.D.N.Y.) is a judicial diva. She is highly regarded, as both a judge and an administrator, and she never looks anything short of fabulous.

I’ve been fascinated by Judge Preska for years. I had this to say about her back in 2004 at my first website, Underneath Their Robes: “Magnificent. Tall, thin, elegant. Great bone structure, perfectly coiffed silver hair. Note to self: nominate for superhotties contest next year?”

This gorgeous judge now owns a gorgeous apartment. Chief Judge Preska and her husband, a partner at one of the nation’s most profitable law firms, just paid almost $9 million for a penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side….

We’ve mentioned Chief Judge Preska’s high-powered husband before. See, e.g., A Solution to the Federal Judicial Pay Crisis: Marry Into Money:

Don’t you just love couples in which one spouse is a judge, with all the power and prestige of judicial office, and the other spouse is rolling in dough? Off the top of our head, we can name a number of federal judges who have married well — or at least wealthy….

Loretta A. Preska (S.D.N.Y.): Her husband, Thomas J. Kavaler, is a partner at Cahill Gordon (2006 PPP: $2.575 million). He sits on the firm’s Executive Committee.

We wrote that back in 2007. Today Kavaler is still on the Executive Committee, but Cahill’s profits per partner are way higher — almost $3.8 million, according to the latest Am Law 100 rankings.

The Belaire, at 524 East 72nd Street

With PPP that high, Cahill partners can easily afford to pay summer bonuses to their associates — and still have lots of cash left for prime real estate. The New York Observer reports:

Before settling a civil fraud suit with the SEC for $1 million and being banned from the securities industry, [former Bear Stearns executive Richard Harriton] no-doubt employed that charming cocktail [of personal attributes] to amass the sort of wealth necessary to rest his head at a place that “looks like exactly the apartment that somebody who was sued by the S.E.C. would live in,” a three-bedroom penthouse at 524 East 72nd Street that he’s just sold for $8.7 million, according to city records….

Someone who once broke the securities laws sold his home to someone who now administers them:

The buyers, Loretta Preska and Thomas Kavaler, are bigwigs in their own right. Ms. Preska is chief justice of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Mr. Kavaler a partner at the firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel. A prominent litigator on behalf of financial firms and senior officers, Mr. Kavaler might have come in handy to Mr. Harriton all those years ago. Of course, then he might not have been able to move into his apartment.

Correction: Preska is chief judge, not “chief justice.” But confusion is understandable; back in 2007, Judge Preska was on President George W. Bush’s Supreme Court short list.

Alas, Judge Preska is now 65, making it unlikely that she’ll make it to SCOTUS even if our next POTUS is a Republican. But her new apartment is a nice consolation prize:

Perched atop the Belaire condo building, a tony, white-glove affair, the apartment first hit the market more than four years ago, but Mr. Harriton was evidently unhurried, offering no major discounts. It isn’t difficult to see why, provided that the right kind of buyer came long, he felt confident in his product. There’s a 700-square-foot wraparound terrace, panoramic views inclusive of the East River, a private elevator and “massive floor-to-ceiling windows at every turn,” according to the listing held by Tal Alexander at Douglas Elliman. At 3,366 square feet, it includes custom wood cabinetry and sprawling entertainment spaces, as well as inlaid hardwood floors shining at high polish. In the living and dining rooms are rotund pillars and molding sections that could be considered either stately or garish, depending on your perspective, and to round things out: wood burning fireplaces and a kitchen of the gourmet chef variety.

Actually, it looks like Preska and Kavaler did get some sort of discount, even if not a “major” one. The unit was listed for $9.2 million, and they purchased it for $8.7 million — about 5 percent off. A judge and a Biglaw partner know how to negotiate!

Is the apartment worth what they paid for it? Let’s take a look….

(hidden for your protection)

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