Here we go again.
On Thursday, the New York Post's Jennifer Gould Keil reported that actor Jeremy Piven had been in New York the previous week to promote his new movie, and while he was in town, he stayed for a week in a three-bedroom, 4,800-square-foot triplex penthouse in the Prime condo building, at 333 W. 14th Street. Keil also noted that Piven is looking to buy in downtown Manhattan and that he is considering buying the triplex penthouse.
To that we would say: don't hold your breath.
More than any other celeb that we have run across, Piven (shown here on the beach in Malibu with a lady friend) is notorious for getting his name in the paper for his temporary housing whereabouts and for rumors of the sort that he is "considering" buying something. If a person didn't know better, he might think that 1) Jeremy allows his name to be used by developers as a (free) publicity draw; and 2) in exchange for being used, Piven gladly accepts free lodging for his time in NYC.
By our count, this is the third time that Piven has been involved in a similar kind of situation. Keil obviously is new to the celebrity real estate beat, and she likely was pushed hard on this item by the real estate development PR machine, which undoubtedly lured her in with the promise of an exclusive (and hey -- we can relate to that, since exclusives are hard to come by and always welcomed!).
Our guess, however, is that the past is prologue, and it's just more of the same for Piven when it comes to New York housing shenanigans. Count on the fact that that one-week stay was the last that Piven will ever see of the Prime condo building. Let's roll the tape, shall we:
--August 17, 2005: The New York Post reports that "we hear" that Jeremy Piven is buying a penthouse condo at Sundari Lofts & Tower, a new 50-unit development near Madison Square Park with a 58-foot lap pool. Piven was attracted to the private elevator and teak hot tub on his roof deck."
--August 31, 2005: Real Estate Weekly unwittingly unmasks the (paid!) connection between Piven and Sundari (and the fact that the 8/17/2005 Post item was a complete, publicity-driven fabrication): "On Saturday, August 20, Sundari Lofts & Tower hosted the final day of the Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge at Bridgehampton Polo Club. A record-breaking crowd of 2,500 attended the sneak preview of Sundari, which included a massive 5' high model of the condominium's signature glass towers. The event was emceed by Jeremy Piven."
--September 17, 2005: The New York Post's Andy Wang interviews the head of development for the company developing Sundari. Ever the gullible one (and apparently oblivious to the fact that Piven's on Sundari's payroll), Wang writes, "We hear Jeremy Piven's going after a penthouse here." Ummm, yeah.
--November 12, 2005: The Wall Street Journal's Deborah Schoeneman, to her credit, pens a lengthy (and terrific) piece about the whole concept of celebrities as development marketers, writing: "Typically, developers and brokers say a celebrity resident accepts a discount in exchange for allowing his name be used to promote the project. Often, that means having a publicist "leak" the A-list name to gossip columns. Having a celebrity neighbor doesn't increase values, brokers say, but it does get more potential buyers looking at a building." In the final few paragraphs of the story, Schoeneman addresses (and unfortunately, herself is taken in by) Piven's apparent role at the Sundari. Schoeneman writes: "Although there is no offering plan yet for the Sundari Lofts & Tower in Manhattan, for example, one of the building's developers has already lined up his first customer, actor Jeremy Piven, of HBO's Entourage. The developer, Andrew Heiberger, says he gave Piven first dibs after meeting him through a mutual friend. "His persona is consistent with the persona I'm trying to target for the building," says Heiberger. Piven's publicist, Siri Garber, says that in addition to planning to buy a unit, "Jeremy is even going to the ribbon-cutting at the groundbreaking."
--November 4, 2008: It's three years later, and it's time for Piven to get free rent from another building. How about the Atelier? The New York Post now at least acknowledges Piven's practice, writing: "The Atelier building is still luring celebrities. An insider tells us "Speed-the-Plow" star Jeremy Piven (above) is moving into a space in the West 42nd Street tower this week. Page Six reported Piven was subletting Sean Avery's Gramercy Park apartment, but we're sure the free rent the Atelier offers boldfaces (Maggie Rizer, James Blake, Nick Lachey and Lindsay Lohan) is a sweet inducement - especially for a star on a theater salary."
Several years of history would tell one that there is little chance that Piven will cough up the dough for the triplex penthouse in the Prime. We will gladly purchase a prime (steak, that is) -- and the rest of dinner, at a restaurant of her choice -- for our New York Post counterpart Ms. Keil the next time we're in New York (and we're there often), if Piven goes through with this purchase.
In the meantime, where is it that Piven actually *has* put down his money and actually purchased property? He currently owns a 2,424-square-foot house in Malibu, Calif., which he purchased in May 2004 for $3,500,000 from hockey star Chris Chelios ("Cheli" now owns another house in Malibu). Although Piven kept the bar and built-in icemaker from Chelios' ownership days, "I did change almost everything else," he told Cargo magazine in its March 2006 issue. "Chris has a family of four, and I'm an army of one, so I sanded the floors, knocked down walls, opened it up a bit. I flipped into a Zen-beach-cowboy-bachelor vibe. I have a Tibetan swing on my patio that I love. It's where I sit and meditate while looking out at the ocean."
In the past, Piven has owned the following two properties:
--A 1,736-square-foot house at 703 10th Street in Santa Monica, Calif., which Piven sold in 2004 for $1,975,000 (after having listed it for $2,195,000) -- which was right at the same time that he purchased his house in Malibu;
--And a top-floor loft unit (#721) in the building at 540 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, which Piven had owned through a bank trust from 1998, when he purchased it for $296,000, until October 2005, when he sold it to a neighbor for $495,000. Actress Joan Cusack, a longtime family friend of Piven's, had owned in a condo unit next door from when she bought it in 1992 for $240,500 until she sold it in 1998 for $310,000. The unit that Piven sold had a spalike second bathroom with a rain shower, a 12-person Jacuzzi tub and a hot rock sauna, according to listing information.