John Paulson has a plan for the historic Steinway piano factory in Queens — and it involves sharing some of the premises with Robert De Niro.
The billionaire hedge-fund mogul — who scooped up Steinway & Sons in 2013 for $512 million, and who is now reportedly looking to flip it for as much as $1 billion — has agreed to sell nearly half of the piano maker’s 11-acre lot to a group that includes De Niro for $73 million.
The “Goodfellas” actor is teaming up with his son Raphael, his longtime business partner Jane Rosenthal and his longtime friend, Adam Gordon, head of the film investment company Wildflower, to develop a 500,000-square-foot film studio, a pre- and post-production office and parking area on the Astoria lot, the Commercial Observer reported earlier this week.
But pianists needn’t worry that De Niro and his pals will be squeezing Steinway for space, according to a spokesman for the 160-year-old company.
“This land is excess property that was not being used for the production of our pianos,” a Steinway spokesman told The Post. “Steinway has built the world’s finest pianos on this site since the early 1870s and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”
Paulson, who made billions by shorting the housing market in the run-up to the financial crisis, said he was in “awe of the brand” when he bought it six years ago, noting that he had grown up in a family of piano players.
Paulson’s sister wept when their parents were unable to afford a Steinway, he said.
“My goal in owning Steinway is to first of all preserve it,” Paulson said at the time, adding he had no plans to move production out of its current factories in Astoria and Hamburg, Germany.
Nevertheless, last August it was reported that Paulson had attracted a Chinese suitor for the company, as he looked to double his money. No deal has yet been consummated.
In January, a scandal broke when the Hatch Institute reported that Steinway salesmen and brochures had duped customers into thinking the company’s pianos, which retail for $75,000 to $150,000, would appreciate in value after being bought new. In reality, their value plunges as soon as they leave the sales floor.
Steinway has been consolidating its footprint in Astoria — including merging production and restoration into one building, according to an industry source.
Steinway has also stored inventory on-site but may decide to move warehousing outside of pricey New York City, the source told the Post.
De Niro’s investor group is planning to spend more than $400 million to develop the property and will enlist Newmark Knight Frank’s Dustin Stolly and Jordan Roeschlaub to raise the $150 million in equity and $275 million in debt needed, it was reported.
In January 2018, De Niro filmed scenes around Astoria for Martin Scorsese’s upcoming feature ‘The Irishman,” in which the actor portrays alleged Jimmy Hoffa killer Frank Sheeran.
Paulson didn’t immediately comment. Wildflower, Stolly and Roeschlaub did not return requests for comment.