The 1,076-square-foot, one-bedroom unit sold for $1.47 million,l ess than half of its $3.4 million asking price in 2017.
Gallo made a “lowball” offer and bought the apartment in all cash — sight unseen, with “no conditions and no contingencies” — and says he couldn’t be happier. (It was also the right time to buy. “I could sense a slowdown in the market,” he adds.)
The corner home on the 54th floor of 721 Fifth Ave. has south and west exposures, with natural light coming in through floor-to-ceiling windows, according to the listing. There are also views of the city skyline, and landmarks including the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center.
Gallo, 58, left a difficult home life in Buffalo when he was 15 for New York City in the 1970s. He was homeless with legendary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and they were both members of experimental band Gray.
“The city was run down, violent, dirty, chaotic and financially unstable,” says Gallo. “Anyone who wasn’t there has no idea of this other city. You can’t even imagine it,” adding that he was drawn to the “brutal” city and “fascinated” by Fifth Avenue — exactly where Trump Tower stands, at the corner of 56th Street.
“Suddenly, while the city was still on the decline, there was a big construction site on Fifth Avenue,” he says. “Just imagine the scale of the building — as the Lower East Side was still abandoned and the Bronx was burning. It made no sense that something new and big was being built.”
“I couldn’t understand who could live there,” he adds. “They weren’t people like me. A 50-square-foot walk-up on Avenue B was the biggest dream I could dream for myself at the time, but that building set a new benchmark.”
He’s come a long way: Gallo has since owned units at buildings designed by starchitects, like Richard Meier’s glass towers on Perry Street and Jean Nouvel’s 100 11th Ave.
He sees Trump Tower, however, as more of a blank canvas.
Last December, Gallo found himself at the barricade in front of Trump Tower “wondering how partisan hate would effect the market.” Turned out prices have dropped even lower at Trump Tower than elsewhere in the city.
“I sensed that if someone needed to liquidate quickly, then I might be able to finally get to live in what I think is the best building in New York, in the same building as the president of the United States,” he says. “It was the best real estate deal I made in a long time.”
The listing brokers were Brown Harris Stevens’ Leonel Piraino and Rafael Salas.