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Cash-strapped France to sell $48 million New York apartment of its U.N. envoy

By Curtis Skinner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The French government, which earlier this week unveiled sweeping spending cuts, is selling the luxurious New York residence of its envoy to the United Nations, an 18-room duplex apartment featuring five fireplaces and a view of Park Avenue.

The French Foreign Affairs Ministry is looking for $48 million for the apartment, located in a ritzy Manhattan building that has been home to famous and wealthy Americans, among whom were the late Jackie Kennedy and American financier John D. Rockefeller Jr.

The six-bedroom apartment has a private elevator and curved staircase linking its two floors.

French officials on Thursday said the apartment was put up for sale as part of a wider effort to supplement the foreign ministry's revenues by liquidating the nation's foreign properties.

"It contributes to the ministry's efforts towards more efficient management of property," Dana Purcarescu, spokesperson for the French Embassy in the United States, said in an email.

France's new prime minister, Manuel Valls, earlier this week unveiled a broad program of tax and spending cuts intended to bring the nation's deficit down.

The plan to sell the New York apartment predates that initiative; French diplomats said as early as September they planned to sell the property.

Due to its colonial history, France owns prize properties around the globe, with foreign real estate holdings worth nearly $7 billion. It holds the world's third-largest diplomatic network across the world after the United States and China.

The embassy did not say where the current French ambassador, Gérard Araud, will live following the sale.

Purcarescu said the ministry would also sell its staff apartments on Fifth Avenue. That eight-story, seven-apartment building is listed at an asking price of $32.5 million, according to Leslie J. Garfield Real Estate.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris; Editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Adler)

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