As predicted, the story of the "Mommy Madam" has continued to unleash tabloid-ready twists and turns. Following our update this morning, Morgan Stanley broker David Walker, who works in the corporation's wealth management unit, has been identified as the man who had been "in talks" with Anna Gristina about taking her prostitution business online, according to the New York Post. (Walker has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but Morgan Stanley is probably not thrilled with this particular twist.) But what about the building itself where the alleged prostitution occurred? What do we know about it?
The building is 304 E. 78th Street, and appears to be your typical Upper East Side walkup with an awning and garbage cans (and a nice tree) outside. It's brick, and does not have central air. While we can't confirm which apartment in the building was Gristina, nor that Gristina operated there for the entire 15 years her prostitution business was allegedly thriving, Zillow lists a recent "rent zestimate" on Apartment 4F:
|Rent Zestimate What's this?||$2,365/mo||$1.9K – $3.2K/mo||+$29||--||03/05/2012|
Going a bit further back, there was an $875,000 sale in 1996, and in September of 2010, unit #2A in the building (a 2 bedroom with 1.5 baths measuring 1,200 square feet) was rented at $3,800, according to StreetEasy. It has a dishwasher and is a "great space for a commercial lease." From the listing, by King's Court Realty:
Duplex with Backyard on Prime upper East
Great space for commercial lease.
2 Large rooms( approx 19X9 each ) upstairs and full bath upstairs, quiet but bright facing private backyard.
Large open room (approx 18X19) downstairs with sliding doors to backyard, open to huge kitchen with great cabinetry and Dishwasher ajacant to another half bath.
Amazing storage space, shining hard wood floors, high ceilings.
StreetEasy also notes that the building, built in 1910, is a walkup owned by 304 East 78th Street LLC, and has 9 units and 4 floors. Photos said to be from apartment 2A (above) show your average (no stainless steel) but decently spacious walk-up type apartment. With, notably, a backyard, and dual levels...though again, we don't know which of these apartments Gristina may have operated out of. We spoke to Cassandra from Kings Court who explained that they don't manage the building but simply get listings for it. She also says, "It's a small building."
There appears to be one apartment in the building currently available for rent, for $2,100. The listing was updated 1 day and 20 hours ago, with the photos above and at left (as well as the outdoor photo and kitchen photo also posted in the listing for 2A): It's described as a "High floor alcove studio converted to a junior 1BR with California style open kitchen, wood floors, deco fireplace, Washer & dryer in unit." Plus a fireplace.
Given what we know of brothel busts in Upper East Side buildings, of course, it's unlikely that this most recent listing would actually have been Gristina's. (More likely, the actual apartment is barred off from visitors with caution tape and a giant notice from the NYPD.) But it's still enlightening to see inside some of the apartments and note that high-end clients, apparently, are not getting particularly high-end building amenities in this economic time. Only in New York City!
The duplex, of course, would be more spacious, and features sought after outdoor space. But for $3,800 a month in September 2010, it's nearly $600 monthly above the then average market rate of $3,234, at least according to Citi Habitats Rental Market Analysis.
Thank goodness for all those millionaire clients.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.