Sales  ·  Commercial

Watch Shop Avi & Co. Buys Former Playboy Club for $27M in Foreclosure Auction

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The hopes of some that bunny ears might return to 5 East 59th Street have been trounced as a luxury watch dealer plans to set up shop.

The 57,000-square-foot Midtown property, which formerly served as home to the Playboy Club, was purchased by Avi & Company founder Avi Hiaeve for $26 million in a foreclosure auction, according to property records..

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Avi & Company currently has a location at 15 West 47th Street in Manhattan and one in Miami at 53 NE 40th Street. It plans to use the East 59th Street space for corporate offices and headquarters and bought the property between Madison and Fifth avenues to be near other luxury brands, according to Avely Hart, an attorney for the buyer.

The watch seller plans to open up shop in 2025, Hart said. The New York Business Journal first reported the sale.

The property isn’t a far shot from 747 Madison Avenue, 720 Fifth Avenue, 724 Fifth Avenue and 715-717 Fifth Avenue where Wharton PropertiesJeff Sutton sold his properties to luxury retailers such as Dyson, Prada and Kering, a series of deals that amounted to $1.8 billion.

And Avi & Company joins a growing number of tenants who have decided to drop money on New York City real estate as property values have fallen thanks to higher interest rates and the increase of work-from-home post-pandemic.

BGO and Capstone Equities had bought the East 56th Street property in 2015 for $85 million, but lost it in a foreclosure lawsuit to their lender, United Overseas Bank, in November 2021.

Geoffrey Miller of Dentons was listed as the referee in the auction and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Playboy Club operated in the space from 1962 to 1986 as one of Hugh Hefner’s many establishments dedicated to culture created through Playboy. It enjoyed a brief return to New York City in the Cachet Hotel at 510 West 42nd Street in 2018 and 2019, shuttering after only a year

Maybe the club couldn’t go on without “Hef,” who died in 2017.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.