EX-YUGOSLAVIA: Talks over 20 million dollar residence in New York will be held in Sarajevo
COMMUNIST PARTIES: A silver service gathers dust in the palatial pad acquired by Yugoslavia’s Marshal Tito (right) in 1975 for $100,000.
The last battlefield in the breakup of Yugoslavia is a $20 million apartment on Park Avenue.
Twelve years after the bloodshed ended in the Balkans, the fighting continues over an abandoned duplex the former communist nation once owned at one of Manhattan’s best addresses.
The palatial pad at 730 Park Ave. could soon hit the market, but the five warring factions first have to agree on a broker and to divide up the tarnished silver and dust-coated crystal.
“This is closing the final chapter,” said Milan Milanovic, the deputy ambassador to the United Nations from Serbia.
BALKAN CRISIS: This neglected, $20 million Park Avenue apartment, once the Big Apple foothold of the former Yugoslavia, has seen better days.
The duplex, once home to Yugoslavia’s UN envoys, was vacated in 1992 when Yugoslavia began to dissolve.
A new buyer of the 2,325-square-foot apartment can hobnob with former “60 Minutes” anchor Mike Wallace, who lives across the hall.
The 14-room duplex has six bedrooms, four bathrooms, two half- baths -- and 19 years of dirt and dust.
Paint is peeling from the ceiling of the salmon-colored living room. Silver serving pieces, desperately in need of a polish, sit on a buffet in the formal dining room. The kitchen contains a microwave oven the size of an air conditioner, and the pantry still holds a jar of maraschino cherries and Thai pepper paste.
Yugoslavia bought the apartment for $100,000 in 1975, when Marshal Josip Broz Tito ruled the country.
The furnishings are remnants of the apartment’s last occupant, Darko Silovic, the final UN ambassador to represent the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
When the country began to break up in 1992, Silovic, a Croatian, resigned his post in protest of his government’s Serbian leadership. He initially refused to leave his Park Avenue digs, which would go to his replacement, a Serb.
The duplex became a no-man’s land, collateral damage from the fighting among the successor states. Five republics -- Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia and Macedonia -- laid claim to it. A judge ruled in 1995 that the matter was a political one and not for the courts.
Eventually, Serbia stepped in to pay the charges, now up to $12,300 a month. But with the ownership in dispute, the co-op refused to allow Serbian or other diplomats to live there.
A 2001 agreement among the successor states laid a framework for how former Yugoslav properties around the globe should be divided, but the Manhattan apartment remained empty and in limbo.
An agreement to sell the Park Avenue pad is expected to be inked this week in Sarajevo. Once brokers are selected and a sale is finally made, Serbia will get 39.5 percent of the proceeds, according to a formula based on the economic power of each successor country.
Then Serbia can fight another battle -- to recoup the $2 million in maintenance it has paid for an empty apartment over 19 years.