Robert A. Durst, the eccentric scion of the Durst real-estate dynasty who has had trouble with the law, has purchased a 19th-century townhouse on Lenox Avenue in Harlem for $1.75 million, brokers say.
It wasn’t clear whether Mr. Durst plans to live in the 1888 house at 218 Lenox Ave. The 21-foot-wide house in the middle of the Mount Morris Park Historic District, has been divided into three apartments and a ground-floor beauty salon.
During one visit to the house before his purchase, Mr. Durst talked about turning one of the apartments into a duplex for himself, according to a broker familiar with the matter. But he also was said to be considering the property for its investment value.
In recent years, Mr. Durst has lived in Texas, California and Florida, as well as in a rented apartment Harlem.
He is the older son of the late real-estate magnate Seymour Durst, and was passed over for leadership of the family business in the 1990s.
State Senator Bill Perkins, who represents the Harlem neighborhood that includes the newly purchased house, said that it was “up to the community” as to whether Mr. Durst would be welcomed as a good neighbor.
Mr. Durst received attention in some high-profile police cases. His first wife, Kathleen, a medical student, disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 1982. A fictional version of the case was the basis for the 2010 film “All Good Things.”
In 2000, a Los Angeles writer and longtime friend of Mr. Durst’s was the victim of an execution-style death.
Mr. Durst wasn’t charged in either of the cases, which remain open, and he has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Durst admitted killing a 71-year-old neighbor in Texas in 2001 and dumping his dismembered body in Galveston Bay, but was acquitted of homicide charges after asserting he acted in self-defense.
Eventually, in a plea bargain, Mr. Durst pleaded guilty to two counts of bond jumping and one count of evidence tampering in the case. He was sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison.
Mr. Durst now is married to a New York real-estate broker, Debra Lee Charatan, who runs a commercial brokerage in New York.
Teresa Chavin, who works at Ms. Charatan’s brokerage firm, represented Mr. Durst in connection with the purchase of the Harlem property. Neither Ms. Charatan nor Ms. Chavin replied to requests for comment.
In 2006, Mr. Durst agreed to sever his ties with the company, and received a settlement.
By Josh Barbanel (WSJ)