Donald Trump and the Crazy Manhattan Penthouse Designed by an Israeli Architect

The apartment designed by Israeli architect Eran Chen at the top of the Trump World Tower next to the UN building is exceptional even by the outlandish standards of luxury dwellings in NYC.

The exterior of the Trump World Tower, 44th Street terrace. Eran Chen
MOSO Studio

NEW YORK — I’ve seen my share of amazing apartments in New York, that’s part of the fun of covering the real estate market in this city. But the apartment designed by Israeli architect Eran Chen at the top of the Trump World Tower (next to the UN building) is exceptional even by the outlandish standards of luxury dwellings here. The owner is an Asian-American financier, and the 2,000-square-meter residence with 10-meter ceilings was originally two separate apartments, one on the 89th floor and the other on the 90th floor of the building.

The businessman bought the apartment at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, for the bargain price of $53 million, and then invested another $67 million in the design. The planning and building took four years, and the tenants have now lived in the apartment for three years. I only got to visit recently.

The views are truly magnificent: From the library you have an incredible birds’-eye view of southern Manhattan. Another room affords close-up views of the historic Chrysler and Empire State buildings.

The exterior of the Trump World Tower.
Frank Oudeman

Eran Chen, 45, was born in Be’er Sheva and grew up in Rehovot.

“It’s funny,” he says. “Look where I came from and look what became of me. Be’er Sheva and Rehovot don’t exactly offer a lot of inspiration for architecture.” His parents divorced when he was 6. The next dramatic change in his life occurred when he went to study architecture at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, in Jerusalem.

“I was sure a kid from Rehovot didn’t stand a chance of being accepted. Professionally, that place really changed my life and opened new horizons for me.”

After completing his studies, Chen moved to Tel Aviv and worked there for several years. He came to New York in 2000.

Eran Chen / Manhattan apartment building
MOSO Studio

“New York always astounded me, and I always dreamed of building a building here, of doing something new here. So I came, and everything happened a lot faster than I thought it would.” Chen joined Perkins Eastman, a large international architecture firm, and later opened his own firm. He has about 50 buildings in New York in the works. But the apartment he designed in the Trump World Tower is unusual even for him.

Dragon shower and fragrances on demand

Chen says the building process wasn’t simple. For one thing, massive marble panels had to be hoisted to the top of the building, on top of an elevator.

Visual rendition of what Eran Chen hopes will be New York's slimmest tower.
MOSO Studio

“One of the tenants below us was Derek Jeter, one of the most famous baseball players in America. The noise from the work was disturbing his sleep, and he liked to get a lot of sleep before games.”

Chen says that businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his team had a hand in solving the problem. Eventually it was decided to give Jeter a quieter apartment to use on pregame days, so he could get plenty of rest.

“At one point, Trump got mad about all the trouble we were causing in his building and demanded that my client fire me. But the client wasn’t fazed by Trump and told him, ‘In my house I do what I want.’”

The apartment is a home, but it’s also something of a museum, with works by Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Monet and Damien Hirst adorning the walls.

Impressive sculptures are scattered about as well. We ascend a lighted staircase that’s a work of art in itself, and find ourselves in a Japanese tea house that was imported intact from the Far East. The floor in one part of the apartment is made of a rare African wood, and from there the eye is drawn to a gorgeous slab of Italian marble.

Eran Chen / Queens office building
Wade Zimmerman

The apartment also features all kinds of luxuries including sauna rooms, massage rooms, a barber’s chair, a “dragon” shower with a flow of 500 (recycled) gallons of water a minute, a private music room (“with all the finest audio equipment, acoustic walls and extra-quiet air-conditioning so as not to create any disturbance,” says Chen.)

A home movie theater has commercial-quality projection equipment. The penthouse’s heating and cooling are controlled by iPad, as are the fragrances that can be distributed in different areas of the apartment.

Workers are stationed throughout the home, to see to its maintenance and to cater to the owner’s every whim.