An unnamed seller has listed the deed to about 153 acres of the Upper West Side on Craigslist in London, and hopes to sell it for $2.3 million. The catch: it doesn’t come with any actual land.
The 1763 document — we can’t vouch for its authenticity because there are no archivists on staff — is fascinating. It documents a transaction between the Delanceys and Apthorps, two of the wealthiest and most storied families in early New York. Other signatories include the Franks family, one of the most prominent Jewish families in early New York.
If one family still owned all this land — as they did back in the 18th century — they’d own an amazing swath of real estate.
“The tract of land can be seen on the appropriate map in ‘Iconography of Manhattan’, and appears to consist of 153 acres from W. 77th St. northward to W. 89th St., and from the Hudson River running eastward to what is the site of the old reservoir in Central Park.”
The seller claims it is the most important Manhattan deed in existence, “unless someone comes forward with the deed that the Indians gave Peter Minuit for all of Manhattan.”
“This is the perfect piece to display in your NY apartment, and now you can show your gullible associates that you own most of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with a NYC tax appraisal of approximately 250 billion dollars. The deed states that the land was sold for 450 British pounds, which is approximately $28,000 US today.”
The person who placed the Craigslist ad says the deed is in New York, but does not name the owner. To check out images and the full description, click here.
Peter Salwen, the foremost historian of the Upper West Side, tells us it seems plausible that this is the genuine article.
“Sounds like a terrific souvenir. Wouldn’t mind having it on my wall. If you’re asking if it’s genuine, I’d say it seems perfectly plausible. The ‘same family’ presumably means the Apthorp(e) family, which could also mean the Astors.”