Wilf buys $19 million New York City co-op

  • Article by: JIM RAGSDALE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 30, 2011 - 10:49 PM

The purchase comes as he seeks state money for new Vikings stadium.

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Zygi Wilf purchased this Park Avenue co-op for $19 million.

Minnesota Vikings team owner Zygi Wilf has purchased a $19 million luxury apartment in one of New York City's most prestigious Park Avenue co-ops.

The purchase surfaced in the New York Observer newspaper on the same day Vikings team officials were at the Minnesota State Capitol, making their case for a new stadium that would require a public subsidy.

The paper, which closely tracks super-high-end real-estate transactions, reported that Wilf and his wife, Audrey, purchased a full-floor, four-bedroom apartment at one of New York City's finer addresses on the Upper East Side. Wilf's family real estate development firm is based in Short Hills, N.J., about 25 miles from Manhattan. He has owned the Vikings since 2005.

The Observer reported the building, known as 778 Park, has been home to such luminaries as the late philanthropist Brooke Astor, fashion designer Vera Wang and the late conservative writer William F. Buckley. It is two blocks from Central Park and less than a mile from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The previous owners of the Wilfs' unit were identified by the newspaper as victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

Wilf's family firms have developed more than 100,000 homes and apartments and own and manage more than 25 million feet of commercial retail space. He grew up in New Jersey, where he has a home, and his first love in pro football was the New York Giants. The spacious nine-room apartment includes a library, foyer and gym and boasts terraces on three sides and a view of Central Park.

State Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, a critic of public funding for the Vikings stadium, was a member of the committee that heard the Vikings' stadium pitch on Tuesday.

"I have no objection to the guy buying a fancy home -- it's his money,'' Marty said. "I'm just so frustrated that so many politicians think we ought to hand him $700 million more.'' The Vikings are backing a $1.1 billion stadium project in Arden Hills that would require about $650 million in public funding.

A gripe session broke out on Twitter Wednesday under the hash tag #wilfare, with one participant tweeting: "Pro Tip: Don't buy a $19 million home while begging the public for hundreds of millions in stadium subsidies."

A Vikings spokesman said Wednesday of the apartment purchase: "That's a personal family issue that is not related to the Minnesota Vikings.''

Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042

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