March 11: The bizarre past of Rupert Murdoch's jaw-dropping new Manhattan digs

Jennifer Karmon
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"Exposed pipes were visible in the ceilings; the walls were unfinished; rodent droppings littered the staircase; wind whistled through the window frames."

Welcome to Rupert Murdoch's newest home.

It's been spruced up a bit (we say drily) since the New York Times described it in the October 2011 article quoted above.

(Click here or on a photo to see a slideshow.)

Murdoch, who turns 83 today, just closed a deal to buy the four highest floors of the beleaguered One Madison building, steps from Madison Square Park in Manhattan.In an article about the building's comeback, the Times called One Madison "a poster child for the hubris and greed of the boom era."

In 2011, the exterior was finished but the building was otherwise essentially "an abandoned construction site: the lap pool is a dry hole; the elevator buttons are marked with handwritten numbers; slabs of marble in the lobby are protected with blue masking tape."

"Life here is strange," the Times continued, with some understatement, in that 2011 article. "The building is fully staffed with a doorman, concierge and handyman," yet the few buyers who had moved in didn't have to pay maintenance fees because of the pending bankruptcy case.

"But odd things happen: At one point, the doormen stopped getting paid, and ... the handful of other residents who have moved in were handed key cards to a side door and told they might have to fend for themselves in the 190,000-square-foot cavern."

Fast-forward to 2014 and it appears the faith and tenacity of those brave souls has paid off. Not only will they be rubbing elbows with Murdoch, they'll also have Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen as neighbors. (Related: Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen's eco-friendly Los Angeles mansion, complete with moat.)

The $50 million, three-story penthouse wasn't quite sufficient by itself -- with its 6,850 square feet of living space and a 586-square-foot terrace hugging the building -- so he also snapped up the unit directly below it, encompassing the full 57th floor and listed at $16.5 million. It is his birthday, after all.

He paid $57.25 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. The units are easily combined into one, the building's sales director told the Wall Street Journal. Together, they add up to more than 10,000 square feet.

 (Click here or on a photo to see a slideshow.)

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