Home With a History On The Market

By Anthony Alto

The beautiful home of the fictional Tony Soprano, Steve McQueen’s Mustang from the movie Bullitt “best car chase in movie history,” and other properties all go for a premium because of the names attached.

A beautiful mansion, sitting on 1.3 acres at the edge of the Palisades at 75 Bluff Road in Fort Lee, NJ, with an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline across the Hudson River, is on the market. No sale price was given. It is assessed at $3.75 million, but it is estimated that it could be sold for more than $4 million.

The house comes with some famous... and some infamous names attached to it.

It was built in 1947 by Albert Anastasia, a Mafia hit man who became the boss of a gang known as Murder, Inc.

With New York getting a bit hot for him, Anastasia led an exodus of mob affiliates to the then quite rural and pristine town of Fort Lee, adjacent to the George Washington Bridge. It was literally only minutes from Times Square and a respite from his official business of murder, prostitution and gambling.

Anastasia abruptly became the “former owner” when he was murdered by a rival gang on Oct. 25, 1957, while sitting in a barber chair at the Park Sheraton Hotel. To that point the estate was privy to numerous meetings of Mafioso plotting their nefarious deeds.

Cleansing the negative vibes, the estate was purchased by Del Webb, a real estate developer better known as a part owner of the New York Yankees. Webb resided in the home for a number of years before leaving and selling it to comedian Buddy Hackett, who lived there until his death.

For 40 years after Hackett’s demise, the estate was owned by Arthur Imperator, former owner of the major firm APA Trucking and then New York Waterways Ferry.

Imperator decided to sell the estate after his wife passed away and instead of a direct sale, he chose to auction it off, employing the services of Guernsey’s, a house known for producing eye-opening auctions that have broken records.

Fort Lee today is a thriving community with a history as the first home to movie-making. The Perils of Pauline was filmed on the cliffs of the Palisades and gave rise to the term “Cliff Hanger.” Today the Fort Lee Film Commission keeps that history alive while the town seeks to forget its connection to such former residents as Anastasia.

The property is set on park-like grounds right at the edge of The Palisades. It has incomparable 180-degree views across the Hudson River from the George Washington Bridge all the way to Lower Manhattan and the Freedom Tower.

The ground floor has a central entry hall, living and sun rooms, dining room and breakfast room, kitchen, butler’s pantry, full and half-bath, a wood-paneled library and more.

The second floor is reached by a sweeping staircase with a central landing, a small den that could also serve as a bedroom, a master suite and four additional bedrooms; one with a separate staircase that leads outdoors. There is also an enclosed terrace.

The basement is finished and wood-paneled. It has a kitchen, laundry room, workshop, recreation room for billiards, ping-pong, etc., a main entertaining space with bar and movie theater and a projection room.

The grounds feature a large patio with views, swimming pool, cabana, pool house, and a two-car garage.

Today Fort Lee is a major community for business executives, entertainers and others who appreciate the ability to leave the hustle and bustle of New York behind at the end of the day and enjoy a quieter life. But at the same time they want the convenience of The City and Fort Lee provides that with access to the George Washington Bridge.

Many others opt for the convenience of Imperatore’s New York Waterways Ferry service that crosses the Hudson River in minutes. There are a variety of route options into New York from Mid-Town to the Financial District. This becomes especially convenient in the winter when roads become hazardous.

Guernsey’s is being assisted in the auction by New Jersey real estate firm, Prominent Properties for the sale scheduled for Dec. 8. For information, contact auctions@guernseys.com or Prominent Properties, a division of Sotheby’s, at (201) 585-8080.