A 3,700 square-foot mansion on the Upper East Side with a Juliet balcony, multiple fireplaces, and six bathrooms is back on the market for a hefty $30,000 a month.
But three years back, this stunning property could have been sold for absolutely nothing. As CEO of Rubicon Property Jason Haber explains to HuffPost, the gilded-age townhouse was desired by none other than deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
All Gaddafi had to do in order to snag the once in a lifetime freebie was "release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi and I said he could have the place for absolutely nothing." To that, Gaddafi representatives took a long pause and subsequently hung up the phone.
Haber, then a broker for Douglas Elliman, details the exchange, "Labor Day weekend in 2009, I received a phone call from people claiming to be from the Dutch government, asking if a delegate of theirs would be able to rent the property. I'm no linguistics expert, but it wasn't difficult to detect whoever was on the other end of the line was definitely not Dutch."
After stating his suspicions, Gaddafi's representatives confessed they were scoping out places for the dictator to crash at while he was in town to present what they insisted was a "peaceful" speech before the United Nations.
Haber then suggested the Lockerbie bomber exchange and was of course, turned down. "Well I thought if Nixon could have a go at Ping Pong Diplomacy, I thought why couldn't I try out real estate diplomacy. As soon as people heard the story, I received almost a thousand emails thanking me for what I did and standing up to Gaddafi."
He said, "Who knows? Had Gaddafi taken my offer he might still be alive!"
Since the rejection, Haber formed Rubicon Property, a real estate agency dedicated to socially conscious causes, specifically working to bring clean water to developing countries.
As for the 5 East 78th townhouse, Haber says he's already been contacted by a few interested non-despots.
Update: Nicole Dicocco, a former aide for a Libyan ambassador at the time of the visit, has expressed skepticism that the offer was ever made because she personally coordinated lodging for the visit and was never told of the option. But she didn't directly hear the conversation described by Haber, who is sticking by his story, and acknowledged there were others who could have made such a call and may have been a tad reluctant to share the proposal.
Looking to rent? Take a peak at the beautiful property below. Just make sure you have no connection to Gaddafi or his fumbling cronies: