I know you’ll be shocked to hear this but I don’t get invited to all that many open houses where the price tag for a condo is a gaudy $17.5 million. The word must be out that I’m a journalist.

But Thursday night was different. Suddenly, instead of sitting on my sofa eating popcorn and watching one of those shows like “Million Dollar Listing,” I was on the inside looking out.

Let me tell you, it’s not a bad place to be.

My wife–a leftist of expensive tastes–has always been a fan of pricey real estate shows so there was no way I could attend this “staging” party without her by my side. “Staging” is the art of dressing up an apartment (lived-in or, in this case, not occupied) with someone else’s well-appointed furniture, artworks etc. It seems one’s imagination only goes so far and the staging helps potential buyers imagine what the apartment could be.

The staging here was being presented by Meredith Baer, who operates one of the country’s premiere home staging companies. The building in question was One Vandam, otherwise known as 180 Avenue of the Americas in SoHo, and the apartment up for grabs was Penthouse C, which has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, two fireplaces and a partridge in a pear tree (not really but it does weigh in at an impressive 5,000 square feet.)

The party was co-hosted by Morgan Stanley Private Bank services so there was a full complement of friendly bankers attending. The idea was to get them to take a look and recommend the apartment to a client who might be on the lookout for such a deal.

The place was packed which you might expect given the open bar, free food and bourbon room. A mysterious ballerina, twirling around the guests, completed the picture. Everything was perfect until I went to take in the view from one of the apartments’ balconies.

There I was high up over Manhattan. There were about a dozen of us outside when I heard someone say, “I hope this holds. We put it in last week.”

What?!?!? I reached for the glass door to head back inside but….it was locked. I asked someone if he could open it. No luck. We were stuck outside on a balcony that I’m sure was secure but..you know. The inside looked even more secure.

After some inspired pantomime (shivering, shouting ‘Help,’ peeing in pants), we convinced one of the guests to let us back in. The “entertainment” included a live staging of an empty room that was assembled before our very eyes, and a piece of performance art whereby two actors pretended they were getting dressed for a party in one of the bedrooms. I didn’t actually understand what was happening although the female actor was wearing very little but when she asked me to help pick out her dress, I caught on.

Either that or I’d had too much Black and Bow bourbon and imagined the whole thing.


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