Photographer: Alex Lucaci
Real Estate

A Hedge Fund Manager Will Accept Bitcoin for His $16 Million Mansion

Cash works, too.

A Hedge Fund Manager Will Accept Bitcoin for His $16 Million Mansion

Cash works, too.

Photographer: Alex Lucaci

In 2013, Roy Niederhoffer, the president of New York-based R.G. Niederhoffer Capital Management, Inc., was in need of a place to live. He’d begun a long-term construction project to renovate a house in Manhattan, but in the meantime, he and his young family were living in a rental nearby, a situation he says was short-term at best.

“I was like, I need a place to live now,” he says. And so when he saw that all three units of a mansion on Riverside Drive were up for sale simultaneously, he jumped. “It’s a house that I’d admired for decades as one of the greatest houses in New York. To see that it was up for sale was very exciting, and it had come down tremendously in price.” Together, the three units at 40 Riverside Drive cost Niederhoffer about $12.9 million, according to StreetEasy.

The house was designed and built by architect Clarence True.
Photographer: Alex Lucaci
The entryway is a large, marble foyer.
Photographer: Alex Lucaci

Five years later, his original renovation project is finally complete, so Niederhoffer is reluctantly placing the 10,720-square-foot, 32-foot-wide mansion on the market with Cathy Taub of Sotheby’s International Realty and Dexter Guerrieri and Nicole Kats of Vandenberg at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The house is listed for $15.9 million. Niederhoffer will accept either cash or the equivalent in Bitcoin.

“I’m a big believer in Bitcoin,” he says. “I really am so bullish on it, and I want to own more of it.”

Were someone to pay in the cryptocurrency, Niederhoffer says, he would simply cover his share of the closing costs in hard currency. “Whatever the obligations and brokers fees are, I would pay in cash and keep the Bitcoin,” he says.

It’s a uniquely contemporary development in a house that’s steeped in history.

The house has a ballroom that's perfect for concerts.
Photographer: Alex Lucaci
The house is large enough that there are public and private spaces on every floor.
Photographer: Alex Lucaci

A String of Owners

Clarence True was a 19th century architect for the city’s nouveau riche who moonlighted as a developer in an attempt to match his customers’ affluence. In one such undertaking, True developed a set of houses on Riverside Drive, which at the time, a “Streetscapes” article in the New York Times says, was “seen as the future gold coast of the Upper West Side.”

Forty Riverside Drive, which was part of this venture, was completed around 1897, with five floors, an elevator, and five original bathrooms, according to an article by New York historian Tom Miller. 

The house’s layout has potential for nine bedrooms and nine baths.
Photographer: Alex Lucaci

The property is on the northeast corner of Riverside Drive and overlooks Riverside Park, the Hudson River, and New Jersey. It was originally purchased, Miller writes, for $125,000 by Henry C. Miner, a congressman and serial entrepreneur who owned a chain of theaters, a drugstore, and interest in locomotive companies.

After passing through a series of equally colorful, equally wealthy owners, the building was converted into a preschool in the late 1930s and then chopped up into multiple dwellings. By the time Niederhoffer got the deeds for all to recombine them into a single-family home, parts had been stripped of detail while some of the building’s main spaces remained totally intact.

“The lower floors were totally traditional,” he says. “And then you got to the upper floors, and it felt like a Tribeca loft.”

What’s Inside

There are now six floors in total. The ground floor of the house has two entrances. The main one, on Riverside Drive, leads to a prime foyer with marble walls, while the entrance on 76th Street leads to a one-bedroom apartment that has its own kitchen and rear garden.

“It’s the perfect situation for someone with in-laws they like but don’t want see all the time,” Niederhoffer says. “We currently have a grand foyer on the ground floor, but it could easily be converted into a [floor-through] two-bedroom apartment.” 

The living room connects to the parlor.
Photographer: Alex Lucaci
One of the home’s kitchens.
Photographer: Alex Lucaci

There’s also a cellar, which Niederhoffer converted into a home cinema.

The second floor has a ballroom with 12.5-foot-high ceilings and a fireplace. That floor also has a catering kitchen and a suite with its own marble bathroom and Jacuzzi tub.

Somewhat unusually, Niederhoffer says, they decided to turn the third floor into a master suite, along with a second bedroom (there’s also a full kitchen on this floor), and then convert the fourth floor into a triple-height entertaining area with a kitchen, formal dining room, living room, balcony, and sound-proofed library. (So that’s four kitchens, if you’re keeping count.)

There's a triple-height living room.
Photographer: Alex Lucaci
The fourth floor is dedicated to entertaining.
Photographer: Alex Lucaci

It’s the upper outdoor terrace, Niederhoffer says, that seals the deal.

“You can look down 76th Street and see Central Park, and it has a fire pit—we’d play guitars and sing until 3 a.m.,” he says. (Niederhoffer is chairman of the board of both the New York City Opera and the Harmony Program, a not-for-profit organization that brings intensive music programs to underserved communities.)

The fifth floor is accessed by a curved glass staircase and has another master suite and den, while the sixth has yet another bedroom suite, lit by skylights. There’s also a bilevel roof deck. 

Private Wi-Fi, Public Park

In total, the building has five separate outdoor areas, though it lacks garden space. This, Niederhoffer says, isn’t an issue. “It’s as if Riverside Park is our backyard,” he says. “I can see my kids playing in the park from my terrace, and when I’m in the park, I still get our private Wi-Fi.”

The view from one of the house’s terraces, at night.
Photographer: Alex Lucaci

The width and triple exposure is exceedingly rare in comparable New York houses; even so, given the softness of the current townhouse market, Niederhoffer says that he’s “priced it to sell.”

The true selling point, he says, is the house’s natural light. “You have it from three sides, plus the ceiling,” he says. “With brownstones, I always use the word ‘tomb,’ because you get a little bit of light in the middle of the day, and you certainly don’t get sunsets.”

At 40 Riverside Drive, in contrast, “My five year-old and I would sit out on the terrace, night after night,” he says. “Our routine was to watch the sunset.”