Water Tower Place

List Price: $2.649 million
Sale Price: $1.95 million
The Property: The homeowners who struggled to sell their posh top-floor penthouse at Water Tower Place eventually gave the property back to their lender, which sold it May 16 for $1.95 million. That’s 46 percent of the $4.2 million that the sellers wanted when they put it on the market in May 2010.

The 3,400-square-foot condo is on the tower’s 72nd floor looking southeast, with a spectacular view of the city and Lake Michigan that you can see in the listing photos. It was originally the home of Phil Klutznick, the Chicago developer who built Water Tower Place. He died in 1999, three years after his wife, Ethel.

After the Klutznicks’ deaths, a couple bought the condo, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds; it’s not clear what they paid or whether they bought it in 1999 or in 2000. According to Sophia Worden, the Prudential Rubloff agent who this month sold the condo for its lender, the couple did a lavish renovation in a style “modeled after the Ritz in Paris.” Worden says that some of the work was done by artisans brought over from Europe. There used to be four bedrooms in the condo, but the couple took it down to two, “which made the public areas grand,” she says. “There’s an enormous formal living room and dining room.”

The master suite includes his-and-hers baths; hers has a Lalique etched-glass shower door and matching floor inlays, and his comes with a great view of the city, Worden says. In her listing, she described the property as “decadent on every level.”

The couple put the property on the market in 2010. In October 2011, the condo was still unsold and, according to the county records, the sellers returned the property’s deed to the lender, Northern Trust—what’s known as a “deed in lieu” deal. The couple stayed in the condo until the end of January, Worden says, and the lender listed it for sale on February 1, with Worden as the agent (she had not represented the property for the homeowners). “Unlike most foreclosures, it was immaculate,” Worden says.

She had a contract from a buyer in early April and the sale closed last Wednesday. I could not reach the former homeowners for comment, and the buyers are not yet identified in public records. All Worden would say about them is that “they got a phenomenal deal.”

Price Points: The mortgage on the property, dated November 2006, was for $3.2 million. It’s not possible to calculate what the remaining balance was after about five years of payments, but at the sale price, Northern Trust got back 60 percent of the original mortgage amount. While this is a high-priced, high-floor bank-owned property sale, it only eclipses the world’s loftiest foreclosure on price. That one, on the 83rd floor of the neighboring John Hancock Center, went for $950,000 last June. According to my research, it’s still the highest-floor distressed property sale yet.

Listing Agent: Sophia Worden of Prudential Rubloff; 312-268-2723 or sworden@rubloff.com