The Flatiron building during a snowstorm on December 9, 2017 in New York City (photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

New York City’s iconic Flatiron Building, known for its distinctive wedge design that evokes the shape of a vintage clothes iron, sold for $190 million at auction yesterday, March 22. Earlier this month, the New York State Supreme Court determined that the building would be sold to the highest bidder to resolve the irreconcilable differences between its five former stakeholders. Four of the owners sued for a partition auction in a last-ditch effort to boot the fifth owner, Nathan Silverstein, who was reportedly blocking renovations for the building that has sat unoccupied since 2019.

But the auction took an unexpected turn yesterday when an outsider bidder named Jacob Garlick of the investment firm Abraham Trust priced out former stakeholder Jeffrey Gural.

While the Flatiron Building was open to anyone who could pony up the cash through a public auction, Gural of GFP Real Estate and the other three stakeholders sought to use their existing stakes for “credit bids” to lock down the remaining 25% of the building that Silverstein owned. The building was auctioned by Matthew D. Mannion of Mannion Auctions on the steps of the state Supreme Court in Lower Manhattan.

Mannion confirmed with Hyperallergic that there were 12 registered bidders for the building, but only five of them placed bids, with the opener being $50 million.

“The minimum bidding increment was $500,000 at the end of the auction, so the 75% equity owners stopped bidding at $189,500,000.00, and the high bidder won at $190,000,000.00,” Mannion added. It’s unclear how much higher Garlick would have gone, but it seems like the sky was the limit considering he told NY1 that owning the Flatiron Building was a “lifelong dream” of his since he was 14 years old.

Garlick hasn’t disclosed what he intends to do with the building and did not immediately respond to Hyperallergic’s request for comment. It appears that he has his work cut out for him though, as Gural mentioned that the building requires about $100 million in upgrades. After a 60-year run, Macmillan Publishers vacated the building in 2019 and it has remained empty since then as the building required some modernizations, including fire safety upgrades, in order to be legally rented to a new tenant.

All of that work can be done later down the line, because Mannion informed Hyperallergic that Garlick “must submit a deposit of 10% of his bid no later than tomorrow, or else he will be found in default.” Should Garlick default on his deposit, Gural would be given the opportunity to buy back the building with his highest bid of $189.5 million.

Rhea Nayyar (she/her) is a New York-based teaching artist who is passionate about elevating minority perspectives within the academic and editorial spheres of the art world. Rhea received her BFA in Visual...