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Bloomberg To The Rescue: Billionaire Pays RFR $560M For Madison Ave. Building

With Aby Rosen’s RFR Holding staring down billions of dollars of maturing debt in the coming year, the developer just landed an enormous windfall from a former mayor of New York City.

980 Madison Ave., which has sold for $560M to an entity controlled by Michael Bloomberg.

A shell company affiliated with Michael Bloomberg has acquired the office building at 980 Madison Ave. for $560M, according to a deed filed to the city Thursday afternoon. 

The buyer is 980 Madison Avenue Holdings, an LLC registered to wealth management attorney David McCabe. But PincusCo reported Thursday that Bloomberg Philanthropies, which signed a lease for a majority of the building last year, is the buyer.

“In furthering our commitment to the neighborhood and the building, I am pleased to share that I have recently purchased the building,” Bloomberg wrote in a letter to tenants, obtained by PincusCo. “With this change of ownership, very little will be different for the existing tenants.”

RFR declined to comment. Bloomberg Philanthropies didn't immediately respond to Bisnow’s request for comment.

The 134K SF building on the Upper East Side is considered an art institution, previously home to several galleries. But since Bloomberg Philanthropies signed a long-term lease for more than 85% of the space last year, other tenants have been forced to evacuate as their leases expire, Artnet News reported.

The Gagosian Gallery, which occupies more than 40% of the building, will see its lease expire in April 2025, according to Morningstar commentary. A $172.6M CMBS loan backing the property had been watchlisted ahead of the exit, but the sale means the bondholders on the securitized debt should be paid in full.

The building was appraised in 2021 at $350M, making the $4,152 per SF Bloomberg paid all the more astonishing, considering how far office values have fallen in the three years since.

The half-billion-dollar sum couldn't have come at a better time for RFR, run by Rosen and his partner, Michael Fuchs. The property owner faces $2.5B of loans that are set to mature within the next year or are already due