The Weinstein Fire Sale Begins

Have the Weinstein brothers done anything lately that doesn't signal a desperate need for cash? Now Bob Weinstein, the less violent and insane half of the pair, is trying to unload his Central Park West duplex for $34 million.

The Weinsteins are behaving like people on the brink of bankruptcy. They laid off 11% of their staff late last year. They overplayed their hand with Project Runway, stupidly trying to wring more money out of the show by taking it to Lifetime in violation of its contract with NBC, resulting in costly litigation and a multimillion-dollar settlement. They apparently lost the rights to produce a sequel to Sin City for lack of cash. According to Nikki Finke, they can scarcely afford the $30 million or so required to release Quentin Tarantino's Ingourious Basterds in August—they haven't released a film since February, and Finke says they've pushed back the release dates of most of its 2009 slate in order to "hoard cash" for Basterds and Halloween II, which also comes out in August. Tarantino, Finke says, has been gaming out the worst-case scenario: What happens if the Weinstein's can't come up with the cash to release it?

All of which explains why the Weinstein Co. recently hired Miller Buckfire & Co., a consulting firm that specializes in distressed companies and bankruptcies, to restructure debt and help the company raise capital. The move is a tangible and indisputable indication of the money troubles that the Weinsteins previously dismissed as baseless rumor, but they're still gamely trying to spin it is routine: "As a matter of practice we have always worked with financial institutions to explore our options with respect to equity and possible investments and it is something we will continue to do."

In that light, Bob's attempt to sell his Beresford apartment—complete with a "terraced master bedroom" and a "gargantuan coatroom"—looks like desperation. He wants $34 million for it, a 70% premium on what he paid for it five years ago. But that makes sense, since the real estate market has been on a real tear since then. For Bob, it's a significant downsizing: He bought a $15 million brownstone on W. 70th St. last month, so if successful, the deal would liberate nearly $20 million in cash—which could go quite a long way toward helping release Basterds.

But the Observer is skeptical that Bob can get what he wants for it:

And it's more than anything in the building has ever sold for: The mega-investor Bill Ackman spent $26 million, a relative pittance, on his new duplex one floor up; Jerry Seinfeld spent just $4.35 million on Isaac Stern's duplex last decade.

One broker who has seen the apartment complained that it faces south, which means its views of Central Park aren't ideal. "You do see the park when you're that high. But, obviously, the coveted view is east."