The Empire State Building is for sale.
Or at least the ownership interest held by the Prudential Insurance Co. of America is available, Crain's New York Business said in a report released Saturday.Prudential and its financial adviser for the sale, Salomon Brothers Inc., have not hung a price tag on the 102-story landmark that shimmers at the center of New York's famous skyline.
But Crain's said experts value Prudential's stake in the building at $25 million to $50 million.
Prudential owns the building subject to a master lease held by a partnership led by attorney and real estate investor Peter Malkin, with an 84-year sublease controlled by a group that includes Malkin and Harry Helmsley.
Total value of the building has been estimated at $700 million.
"It's probably the most recognizable building in the world," Kurt Reich, a vice president of Prudential Real Estate Investors, told Crain's.
The hardy steel and marble skyscraper, which has survived a cinematic climb by King Kong and a real-life 1945 crash into its 79th floor by a B-25 bomber, has been resilient in New York's weakened real estate market, with an occupancy rate of 95 percent.
Prudential's decision to sell reflects the need to raise capital because of bad loans in other real estate interests, Crain's said.
Interest is expected from overseas and a foreign buyer could prompt the kind of national controversy that erupted in 1989 when the Mitsubishi Estate Co. bought a 51 percent interest in another popular landmark, Rockefeller Center.
Prudential officials insist they remain committed to the city's future and point out that the company is a co-developer in New York's $2.5 billion 42nd Street Redevelopment Project.