NEW YORK CITY — Amongst a handful of onlookers huddled around an auctioneer in the rotunda of the New York State Supreme Courthouse last month, a real estate investor placed the winning bid on an alcove studio for what seemed like the deal of the century.

The price: $28,000.

Yes, that’s right, $28,000 for an apartment in a pristine Upper West Side co-op building across from the Museum of Natural History.

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