Spotlight On Central Park South

If the Time Square Theater District is the centerpiece of Manhattan, then Central Park South is its jewel. The stretch of 59th Street that connects Columbus Circle on the west side of Manhattan to 5th Avenue on the east, is home not only to the city’s most sought-after and quintessentially New York real estate, but also its most iconic park. Walking down that storied stretch of road, with its shining, stately residences on one side and the park on the other, it’s easy to forget that the surrounding neighborhood is not without magic of its own, especially during the holiday season when the windows are all dressed to the nines in preparation for international holiday shoppers. There’s plenty to see and do within quick walking distance of the small neighborhood known as Central Park South.

 

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Photo courtesy of The Plaza Hotel

The Plaza Hotel
1 Central Park South
The ultimate in old-school decadence, The Plaza Hotel was the gold standard for luxury when it opened in 1907 and it remains so today. This imposing 21 story landmark is notable for its French chateau-style design and distinctive Mansard roof. Amenities include 5 star concierge service, maid service and just about everything you could ask for. Visit the lush Palm Court  for breakfast, afternoon tea or evening cocktails, or check out The Plaza Food Hall in the basement for eclectic culinary samplings from around the city and the globe. Once you move in, you’ll technically never have to leave. Studio units start at approximately $1.4M and 4 bedroom condos sell for around $50M.

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Photo courtesy of 22 Central Park South

22 Central Park South
Standing almost unnoticed next to The Plaza, this charming renovation  contains 7 floor-through luxury condos. Amenities include a rooftop terrace and 24-hour doorman. There is currently a two bedroom for sale at 22 Central Park South priced at $8.1M.

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Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
50 Central Park South
The residences at the world-famous Ritz-Carlton occupy the top 12 floors of the hotel and range in size from 3,895 to 9,500 square feet with an average price per square foot of $8,105. There are currently 2 units available from $24.5 M. The Ritz-Carlton is also home to the ultra-chic Star Lounge. Stop in for light fare or afternoon tea but don’t forget to make a reservation.

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Photo credit: Ralph Daily

Essex House
160 Central Park South
Essex House might be the most recognizable of all of Central Park South’s distinctive pre-war hotels, due in large part to the sizable neon sign on its rooftop. A 2 bedroom condo in this majestic art deco building will run you anywhere between $4 million and close to $6 million, with an average price per square foot of just under $3,000. Amenities include a full-time doorman and concierge service, a fitness center and spa, and maid services. The inviting Southgate Bar and Restaurant is also located in the hotel and boasts expansive views of Central Park.

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Photo courtesy of Dwellings NYC

The Hampshire House
150 Central Park South
The Hampshire House coop contains 196 units and is distinguishable by its numerous white brick recesses and setbacks that appear to cascade upward to the building’s copper apex. There are currently 7 homes for sale in The Hampshire House, with one bedrooms starting at just under $1M and 2-3 Bedrooms in the $7M range.

5th Avenue
Known as “The Most Expensive Street in the World” and a prime high-end shopping destination, the section of 5th Ave. which runs perpendicular to Central Park South is notable for its ritzy retail landmarks. Stop at Bergdorf Goodman for a touch of class, or Tiffany and Co. for a bit of nostalgia.

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Photo courtesy of NYC-ARTS

The Museum of Modern Art
11 W. 53rd St.
Located 6 blocks south of Central Park South, MOMA is home to some of the greatest pieces of modern art ever conceived. The sculptures of the visionary iconoclast Pablo Picasso will be on display through February 7.

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Photo credit: Jeff Goldberg, Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall
881 7th Ave.
The legendary Carnegie Hall, located 2 blocks south of the park, is one of the world’s premier destinations for classical and contemporary music. Erected in 1891 by the ubiquitous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and designed by the architect William Burnet Tuthill, the hall presents about 250 performances annually.

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Photo courtesy of Associated Musicians of Greater New York

New York City Center
405 W. 55th St.
Originally built in 1923 as a meeting hall for The Shriners, The Mecca Temple was saved from demolition to become the city’s principal venue for modern dance and theater. Located within walking distance of Central Park South, NYCC is home to The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (whose founder and namesake is widely credited with revolutionizing modern dance), in addition to a host of other dance and theater troupes. The building is notable for its Neo-Moorish architecture and idiosyncratic design.

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Photo courtesy of BOOMSbeat

Columbus Circle/Time Warner Center
A popular feature film locale and tourist destination, Columbus Circle sits on the south-western tip of Central Park. The Circle is one of the most heavily-trafficked and well-known hubs in the city, and features a statue of the guy who sailed the ocean blue in its center. The nearby Time Warner Center also doubles as an upscale shopping mall with food court.

Central Park
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1858, and credited with spurring urban renewal initiatives across the country, Central Park’s naturalistic landscaping, complete with streams, caves, and clearings, provide grizzled New Yorkers with a respite from the rush, if only for an hour or two. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a long-time New Yorker who doesn’t have at least one indelible memory of Central Park (be it frightening or enlightening). The park is vast, extending as far north as West 110th Street and is known for the large variety of migrating birds it attracts during the spring and fall months. Park attractions near Grand Army Plaza (the official gateway to the park, located at the south-eastern corner), include The Pond (of Holden Caulfield fame) and Hallett Nature Sanctuary, as well as the Central Park Zoo. Explore offbeat modes of transport and take a horse-drawn carriage, hop in a petty cab or visit Central Park Bike Rentals for a tandem bike ride.

If that all sounds a bit exhausting, veteran Central Park South staple  Sarabeth’s serves up fresh breakfast and brunch daily, and The Park Room Restaurant, located in The Park Lane Hotel, promises a fine dining experience with ceiling to floor views of the park. Visit Villagio On the Park or Marea for upscale Italian fare or sample the area’s “just fine” dining options: a Sabrett frank, roasted nuts or a cheese-filled pretzel.

If you’ve fallen in love with the neighborhood and you just can’t wait to move in, you’ll find yourself in rarefied company: P. Diddy and Lady Gaga are among the celebs who call the nabe home, and it is one of the priciest neighborhoods in Manhattan with recent price per square foot sales in the $3,400 range.

The View from Billionaire’s Row

Image courtesy of JDS Development
111 West 57th Street, Image courtesy of JDS Development

In the last few years, a slew of new luxury highrise developments have hit the market or been slated for development, with activity concentrated primarily on West 57th Street and Columbus Circle. While these areas have long been hotbeds of luxury real estate, this new breed of luxury high-rise promises to be taller, more spacious, more luxurious and more expensive than ever before. One of these de-luxe apartments in the sky will run you, on average, about $14.5 million, which translates to $4,375 per square foot. With the recent slowdown in the luxury real estate market, many industry insiders have noted the difficulties that may lie ahead in finding buyers. The development explosion of 2012-2013 has opened wide a market that is rife with choice for the consumer, and with the glut of options in the market, potential buyers may perhaps be a bit choosier. Sure, a Central Park address can go a long way towards wooing a potential buyer, but it will be the devil in the details that will ultimately turn her/him into a new luxury homeowner.

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Photo courtesy of JDS Development Group

111 West 57th Street
Developed by JDS Development Group and constructed atop the historic Steinway Hall, this supertall residential monolith will scrape the sky at 1,438 ft. The building will feature full floor units as well as duplex condominiums with views of Central Park and the city. The building, also known as Steinway Tower, will be the most slender skyscraper in the world when it is completed in early 2018, and will contain a recital hall and stately porte-cochere. “Landmark units” or units that are located inside of Steinway Hall proper are projected to start at $1 million for a studio, while a 3 bedroom unit in the tower will run you about $13 million.

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Photo courtesy of One57

One57
This 75 story, 92 condominium supertall rises to just over 1,000 feet and is characterized by a rippling glass facade reminiscent of a waterfall. Nicknamed the “Billionaire Building”, residents will have access to personal services via the Park Hyatt’s 5 star hotel, located on bottom floors, as well as a health club and spa and private library to name just a few of the amenities. The view is also pretty good.

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Rendering courtesy of DBOX

432 Park Avenue
This 144 unit skyscraper is the tallest residential tower in the western hemisphere, boasting high ceilings and unparalleled views of the city. Among the building’s offerings are a six bedroom penthouse with seven baths and a library which is in negotiations to the tune of $95 million. Erected on the site of the once historic and now demolished Drake Hotel, the design of this ultra-luxurious high-rise was inspired by a trash can.

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Image courtesy of Curbed

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Located adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art, this luxury high rise is most notable for its ultra-futuristic, geodesic design. Slated for completion in 2018, residents of the mixed-use complex will have unlimited free access to MOMA, a gym, golf simulator and housekeeping services. Listed prices range from upwards of $3 million for a 1,500 square foot unit facing east, to nearly $60 million for a 6,786 square foot penthouse with 4 bedrooms, 4 baths and a 360 degree view of the city.

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Image courtesy of Curbed

220 Central Park South
Currently under construction, 220 Central Park South will contain 150 luxury units and is expected to have a sellout of roughly $2.84 billion. The property is being developed by Vornado and was designed by American architect Robert A.M. Stern.

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Photo courtesy of Bloomberg Business

550 Madison Avenue
Formerly known as Sony Tower and originally completed in 1984, this soon-to-be-redeveloped postmodern skyscraper will house the city’s largest and most expensive penthouse at 21,504 square feet and $150 million respectively. If that’s a bit out of your budget, the iconic building will also count a $75 million, 8 bedroom condominium among its 96 units, and a luxury hotel, in case you’d just like to visit. The project is being spearheaded by Chetrit Group.

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Image courtesy of Yimby

The Central Park Tower, a.k.a The Nordstrom Tower, is yet another ultra-tall, mixed use/residential currently in development by Extell Development Company (developers of One57). The tower will stand approximately 1,550 feet and will contain a hotel, condominiums, and a Nordstrom’s department store.

With so many new super-luxurious high-rises arguably gracing the skyline and the market in an apparent rut, the situation begs the question: who will buy?  Investors will undoubtedly buy into these properties as a hedge and some will attempt to flip them when the time is right. Some have noted that luxury developments are likely to find clientele in the international business community and in fact, a good number of the units which have been sold or committed to so far, are reported to have been sold to Russian and Chinese buyers, as well as mid-western moguls.

In the end, regardless of whether these buildings are embraced by New York’s 1%, become ultra lavish crash pads for globetrotting elites and the global business community or merely function as smart investments, one thing is for sure: in a city as cosmopolitan, dense, and moneyed as New York, there will always be a market for castles in the sky. Or at the very least, developers who are willing to build them.

 

Holiday Gifts: 10 Ideas for Where to Shop or What to Get

With the holidays rapidly approaching, many of us still have “a few” gifts left to buy. I put together this gift guide to help you find something for everyone on your list. Here are my favorite places in NYC to shop for unique presents to give this holiday season:

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Assouline Book Store
The Park Plaza Hotel
768 Fifth Ave
Midtown West, Manhattan

Luxury book publisher Assouline carries beautifully bound volumes as well as notebooks, stationery, and anything else you would need to stock a contemporary personal library. Their location at The Plaza also contains a bespoke bindery, where you can request monogramming, embossing, custom covers, and more.

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Robot Nightlight ($44)- Photo courtesy of momastore.org

MoMA Store
81 Spring Street
Soho, Manhattan

The MoMA store in Soho has something for everyone on your list – books, jewelry and accessories, prints and posters by artists featured in the museum, toys and games for kids, kitchenware, and more.

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Fragrance Journey ($48) – Photo courtesy of fresh.com

Fresh
57 Spring Street
Nolita, Manhattan

Just down the street from the MoMA store, this cosmetics store is dedicated to natural ingredients and rich textures. Their skincare products, soaps, and fragrances make great gifts for the women on your list.

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Photo courtesy of Yelp

10 Ft Single by Stella Dallas
285 North 6th Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

For those of you who love bargain shopping, Stella Dallas consistently makes it onto lists of best vintage and thrift stores in NYC – for a good reason. A friend of mine recently found a $1200 Burberry trench coat – with the tags and in perfect condition – for $120 here. After browsing the Williamsburg outpost’s selection of men’s and women’s vintage clothing, accessories, jackets, and shoes, head next door to Stella Dallas Living for linens, blankets, curtains, and other textiles.

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Ebony Fleur Mineralize Statement Necklace ($420) – Photo courtesy of insupportof.us

In Support Of
342 West 13th Street
Meatpacking District, Manhattan

This shop aims to provide clothing and other items that are unique, well-constructed, innovative, and wearable while supporting charitable causes. Currently, In Support of is working with NYC-based non-profit Community of Unity, which provides in-school support services to at-risk youth. Shop their selection of creative designs while helping an important cause.

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Henry Pajama Shirt ($128) – Photo courtesy of shop.sleepyjones.com

Sleepy Jones
25 Howard Street
Soho, Manhattan

This boutique was started by Andy Spade, Anthony Sperduti, and Chad Buri of kate spade, Jack Spade, and Partners & Spade. Their collection of sleepwear for men and women is inspired by the lifestyles of artists, who wear what is comfortable in order to let their creativity flow. Sleepy Jones luxury loungewear is the perfect gift for someone who likes to spend their downtime in comfort.

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Bellroy Low Down Slim Wallet ($79.95) – Photo courtesy of freemanssportingclub.com

Freemans Sporting Club
8 Rivington Street
Lower East Side, Manhattan

“Made Local, Buy Local” is the cornerstone of the Freeman Sporting Club ethos, and nearly all of their collection is manufactured within 10 miles of the shop. Their ready-to-wear and bespoke menswear is sold alongside equally sharp accessories, and their in-house barbershop offers gift certificates for haircuts and shaves.

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Handmade Twist Vase ($36) – Photo courtesy of shoptiques.com

Concrete + Water
485 Driggs Ave
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

This lifestyle boutique is focused on bringing the best in local and international design to Brooklyn. Their apparel, accessories, and housewares are the perfect, colorful accents to a classic wardrobe. The airy, light-filled space is designed to be a comfortable shopping experience, a respite from the sometimes-stressful fast pace of the city.

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Nunu Chocolates Booze Box ($14.99) – Photo courtesy of withlovefrombrooklyn.com

Nunu Chocolates
529 Atlantic Avenue
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

All the chocolate at Nunu is produced in-house, and customers can enjoy hot beverage (or glass of wine) while watching the chocolate-making process. They use a single origin cocoa bean from a family-run farm in Columbia to make their all-natural, hand-made chocolates. Their booze-infused chocolates have craft beers and liqueurs mixed in, which makes for a decadent holiday treat.

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Image courtesy of monocle.com

Monocle Magazine
(subscribe online)

A magazine subscription to MonoclePaper, Kinfolk, or really any magazine is a great gift – now that we do the majority of our reading on phones, tablets, etc., it’s a nice treat to sit down with an actual magazine for a change. It’s also nice to be thought of at least 12 times a year.

New Sales Listing: 20 West Street, #38H

A bright, beautiful corner home located 38th floor. This impeccably maintained apartment features an open kitchen with granite counter tops, stainless full sized appliances, marble bathroom, and high ceilings. Enjoy beautiful open views facing east over the Financial District.

Additional storage unit located across the hall.

Enjoy all the building amenities including a spectacular new furnished roof deck. The Downtown Club is conveniently located just off the 1, R, 4 & 5 subway lines. Located at 20 West Street The Downtown Club was completed in 1930. It was converted into a luxury condominium in 2005 and is now landmarked as an important example of American Art Deco vertical architecture. Residents can enter either on West Street or on Washington Street. There is a full time doorman, valet service, concierge, onsite resident manager, steam rooms, two planted roof gardens, billiard room, yoga room, screening room, residents lounge with TV and WiFi, bicycle storage, as well at one of the largest condominium gyms in all of Manhattan.

For more information about this listing, please call me at (917) 854-5069 and/or click here.

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Q&A with Richard Lofthouse, Managing Director, Asia Pacific Superyachts

Richard Lofthounse on 'Mayan Queen' Bali Dock
Richard in front of a superyacht

My buddy Richard Lofthouse lives in Bali and runs Asia’s #1 superyacht company, which he and his partner founded only seven years ago. The company has doubled in size every year for five years, even though he didn’t know if it would survive its first year. He is now living the dream of a tropical paradise lifestyle while running a successful company and surfing everyday. We met on my second trip to Bali in 2010 and have gotten together during each of my annual visits. He is an inspiration to talk to and he agreed to take time from his day to share how the dream started for him just a few years ago.

JD: Please tell us what you do for a living.

RL: As many things as I can! We do everything related with boats here in Indonesia which is a fairly good line of work in a country made up of 15,000 islands.

Our main company is Asia Pacific Superyachts which is a logistics and management company for visiting private yachts. We are like ‘fixers’ – we deal with every aspect of their trip to Indonesia – permits, visas, fuel, spare parts, trip planning, guiding, you name it. We also deal with helicopter permits for the boats that have their own helis.

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Basically we have to be on the ground to organize everything for them ahead of time to ensure all goes smoothly. I used to fly around Indonesia into remote places like Timor and Papua to organize fuel, supplies, transport and deal with the locals who were normally concocting ways to derail everything! After years of doing that I have a team who tap into the networks we have built up and do most of the flying around.

We have grown a lot from the early days where it was just me and an accountant. We now have a team of 20 or so with a big supporting cast scattered around the country. On some days we may have work going on in 5 different islands over 3 different time zones. So while I do a bit less flying around these days for work, the adventure is as big as ever.

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Indonesia Team awaits their latest arrival

JD: How did you get into this line of business?

RL: By mistake as with most of the best things in life!

I lost a job and was at a loose end. One day out of the blue I said to the girl who is now my wife, “I don’t know what I want to do but I want to work with boats.” She laughed and pointed out that I didn’t know anything about boats.

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All I knew was that I loved the ocean and boats and for some reason within a few months of saying that, I was in Indonesia working on a boat! The rest I figured out as I went. Nobody had done exactly what we were doing here so I was really able to shape things as they came rather than fit into some framework which always helps.

I started the company on behalf of Jimmy who is now my partner in all our ventures. We started small but the one simple rule of business applied: do the right thing, in the right place, at the right time, and do it first. We ticked all those boxes and the company doubled in size every year for 5 years which was as exhausting as it was phenomenal.

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The business is so private and insular that our only real marketing is from Captain to Captain. Get a good name and you are set. We were the first guys who really made bringing this kind of boat to Indonesia possible. Once word got around that the biggest archipelago in the world was more accessible, demand blew up and our biggest challenge has been building the structures to deal with that.

JD: Are you often out at sea on the yachts?

RL: Not really. My role is to be a step ahead of them so they need me to be where the yachts are not, doing what they can’t do, so I spend remarkably little time on board.

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Bali

JD: Where do you live?

RL: In Bali. An amazing place to visit, a great place to live, a hard place to work. But I am blessed. I work hard and surf hard. Everything I love is close at hand. What can be better than that?

JD: What do you love most about your work?

RL: Challenge. Things that are unlikely are what attract me. When we started the company, I told my wife I would be surprised if we made a year. It all sounded too far fetched and too complex to ever work out. But here we are, 7 years later and doing better than ever. The challenge never ends. It has never gotten easier. We have just gotten better at dealing with the challenges. A recent challenge we had was landing a heli in a jungle on a landing pad we made from logs. We had to spend days in the long house with the elders awaiting their decision to let us fly in there.

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Heli landing in Papua

JD: Who are some of your clients? 

RL: It is a pretty diverse bunch. People think it is all glamour and big names. In fact, these boats are often an escape from that and particularly for those who come to explore the natural wonders of Indonesia. But, we have dealt with some guys who started a fairly big computer company in Seattle, a Russian that owns some football team or other in London, and a few Sheikhs who own a bit of oil between them!

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JD: What are some of the features and amenities offered on the superyachts?

RL: Where to start? We recently had a boat that was 140m and had 55 crew. There were 3 guests.

We have a client that, as well as a heli, also has a 2 man floatplane. It is like a car with wings. They drop it over the side with the crane and off it goes. Absolutely crazy.

Another has a vehicle that can go 40mph on sea as well as land. Then there is the one with the 8 man submarine that we recently used to search for a WW2 wreck in the Philippines They found it, too!

JD: Your company is spread out widely across Asia Pacific. What are your favorite locations?

RL: Indonesia. The others are all awesome in their way but where else on earth do you have the diversity of Indonesia? I was recently on a surf trip in Sumatra and was blown away by the landscape. It was almost the last corner of Indonesia that I have not been to and yet it was so different to anywhere else that it took my breath away.

We have and office in Tahiti and that is one place that I have not been that I am deeply inspired to visit.

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JD: What is the capacity for the superyachts and how long are the charters?

RL: They are big. A few years ago, 60m was considered big. Now that size is pretty normal. Once they get into the 80 to 100+m size it is a serious job to support them. One of my other companies, Compass Provisioning, supplies food and they had to charter a plane last year just to fly food to Papua as there was too much to fit on a commercial flight.

They normally come in for a week or two before the owner arrives and get set up, then the trip lasts anything from a week to a month. Some of them only see the owner for a few weeks in a year and yet are on permanent standby all the time. They just continually move around the world to cool spots on the chance the boss will wake up and think “I wouldn’t mind seeing a Komodo dragon this week.” Boom! Game on. It’s nuts but I love it.

JD: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. 

To learn more about Richard’s company, visit the Asia Pacific Superyachts website here or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.