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Former Playboy Club Sold Out Of Foreclosure To Luxury Watch, Jewelry Retailer

5 E. 59th St. in Manhattan, the former location of the New York City Playboy Club.

The next life for a building once defined by bunnies and booze will be as a seller of watches and jewels.

Avi Hiaeve, founder and CEO of luxury jeweler Avi & Co., has acquired 5 E. 59th St. in Midtown, a few steps from Central Park, at a foreclosure auction, Crain's New York Business reported. Hiaeve paid $26.7M for the nine-story, 57K SF building that was formerly the home of the Playboy Club.

The building hit the auction block after its previous owners, BentallGreenOak and Capstone Equities, which paid $85M in 2015 to acquire it, fell behind on a trio of loans from United Overseas Bank. The bank filed a foreclosure notice against the borrowers in 2021, but the auction didn't take place until January, Crain's reported.

Avely Hart, an attorney representing Hiaeve, told Crain's that the building's new owner plans to turn it into a headquarters and retail showroom for the retailer, which sells brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe. The expected renovation of the building, which housed the original Playboy Club until it closed in the 1980s, could be completed by next year.

"This will be their headquarters," Hart told Crain's. "There's a lot of high-end brands and stores in the area, so I think that was the idea."

Avi & Co.'s current NYC outpost is several blocks south at 15 W. 47th St., and it also opened a location last year in Miami's Design District

BGO and Capstone lost their grip on the East 59th Street building after clearing it of tenants and launching a repositioning project to make it attractive for a full-building user, The Real Deal reported last year. That effort didn't work out for the investors, but their efforts ultimately did land a new user who wanted to use the full building. 

Avi & Co. is just the latest occupier to buy a piece of Manhattan real estate for itself rather than signing a lease. Prada dropped more than $800M on two buildings on Fifth Avenue in December, and Kering, the parent company of Gucci and Balenciaga, shelled out $963M for a building across the street.