The iconic Flatiron building in Manhattan, seen in this aerial photo taken in November 2018 / © AFP
The investor whose $190 million auction bid won him the world-famous Flatiron Building failed to complete the transaction, and the Manhattan skyscraper may go back on the block if a runner-up also forgoes purchasing rights, a broker said Thursday.
In a highly contested auction March 22, little-known bidder Jacob Garlick, founder of the Abraham Trust equity venture fund, obtained rights to the landmark with his pricey bid -- only to miss a deadline to pony up 10 percent of the money to lock in purchase.
Now uncertainty cloaks the iconic building on a wedge-shaped lot at the intersections of Fifth Avenue, Broadway and 22nd Street.
The second-highest bidder, Jeffrey Gural, one of the five current owners, offered $189.5 million at the auction but has yet to exercise a right to purchase, broker Mannion Auctions told AFP on Thursday, meaning a new public auction may be in the offing.
The existing owners of the 121-year-old property -- one of the first skyscrapers in Manhattan, designed by renowned Chicago architect Daniel Burnham -- faced a stalemate over what to do with the building, and a judge ordered its auction.
Four real estate firms -- GFP Real Estate, Newmark, ABS Real Estate Partners and Sorgente Group -- controlled 75 percent of the Flatiron, while a fifth partner, Nathan Silverstein, controlled the other 25 percent.
In 2021, the four minority co-owners sued Silverstein over what they alleged was his failure to lease the building following the 2019 departure of its last tenant, Macmillan Publishers, which occupied all 22 floors.
Silverstein, who inherited the building from his father, countersued. A judge then ordered it be auctioned.
The last time the Flatiron was up for auction was during the Great Depression. It sold for $100,000.
The 22-story triangular edifice was revolutionary for its time, built on a steel skeleton and clad in limestone and terra-cotta with touches of both beaux arts and renaissance revival architecture.
Gural said he was not pleased with how last week's auction went.
"I was annoyed," he told the media this week. "I never thought he'd keep going to such a high price.... All he was doing was driving up the price."
Gural's firm, GFP Real Estate, owns and manages some 50 buildings in New York City.