The Blond Leading the Foreclosed

One-bedroom co-op in five-story elevator building

Location: Chelsea
Rent: $1050 (sublet)
Square feet: 600
Occupant: Andrew Cotton (director of design and product development, Gap); Romeo (Great Dane)

No time to talk about your collection of red-and-gold King and I slippers with turned-up toes! We have to hear about the mystery of the tall blond man and why you'll soon be forced to move from this nice apartment with a big bedroom and jaguar bathroom carpeting where you've lived for six years, and why Barry Z of The Barry Z Show was waiting for you with a cell phone outside your building. One day I opened my mail and found a letter written to the owner of my apartment saying the bank was foreclosing on his co-op. I called the law firm on the letterhead. This lawyer said, Why don't you buy the apartment at the foreclosure auction? I told the lawyer I wouldn't even pay a nickel for this dump. But then I thought maybe I would. So she walked me through the process of an auction. She said, Don't be intimidated.

But you were a wreck. I was, like, shaking. It's in the courthouse, so weird, a big rotunda with frescoes on the ceiling. So they did the first property. I couldn't tell you what it went for, 'cause I was, like, sweating bullets. Next, my apartment. First bid—somebody says a hundred bucks. The bank bids $10,000. The bank goes to $70,000. Somebody bids $74,000. Some guy goes $74,100. Going once, going twice, not a peep. I raise my hand. I'm quiet and calm. I say $74,200. There are two guys off to the side. It becomes like a cockfight. Bidding goes up. My hand is shaking. I'm trying to be really conscious of not going any higher. I'm out of control. $74,200 shoots up to $75,000. I'm thinking it's still cheap. Then $78,000. I'm thinking $10, $12, that's like $90,000. I think I can't do this. So one of the two guys goes to $78,600 and gets it. Afterward, this tall blond guy who was bidding against the other guy walks over to me. He says, Oh, you're the tenant. Can I give you some unsolicited advice? You don't have to move out so fast. You can play hardball with this new owner. You could get like $10,000 or like $20,000. That was Friday. Sunday I'm leaving my building to get a taxi to drop off clothes at Housing Works. A car screeches to a halt. It's the tall blond guy. He says, Andrew, how you doing. I look at him like he's got a hole in his head. Then later he stops a friend of mine on the street and says, Your friend Andrew seems a little touchy. He asks my friend how long I've been living in the apartment. That night I'm doing laundry. I'm waiting for the elevator. Who comes walking off, but the tall blond guy . . .

Andrew Cotton in his Chelsea sublet
Sandra-Lee Phipps
Andrew Cotton in his Chelsea sublet

But who was the tall blond guy? I never found out.

So noir! Then you finally hear a real estate company owns the apartment. And Barry Z of cable TV fits in because he sells real estate in his spare time and he's handling the sale of the apartment and he says he's a real estate agent with such a heart that he's trying to find you a new apartment so you won't be on the street with your Great Dane and the slippers with the turned-up toes. He bought me martinis. Then he said, Did you see my show?

 
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