New Yorkers are reminded fairly frequently that not everyone is hurting from the nation's housing slump.
Attention-grabbing names like Madonna, Bono and Scarlett are still making multimillion-dollar real estate deals in the city and the media aren't shy about reporting it.
"It's certainly amazing how often, just going through city records, [you find] someone with a well-known name is selling an apartment that's absurdly big and absurdly expensive," said Max Abelson, who writes a real estate column for The New York Observer, a weekly newspaper.
In today's economy, "even financiers are having a hard time. … Thank God that precious celebrities aren't hurting for money," he said jokingly.
The New York Observer, The New York Post and The New York Daily News have all published recent stories about celebrity real estate transactions in the city, as have real estate Web sites such as Curbed.com and the Real Estalker blog.
Abelson's latest celebrity reports include news that actress Scarlett Johansson sold her Tribeca loft for nearly $1.9 million and that U2 lead singer Bono sold his Central Park West apartment for $4.9 million.
Abelson said that, of the eight real estate items he writes every two weeks, only one usually pertains to famous names. But when he asks friends for feedback, he said, it's usually the celebrity news they remember.
"I think there's sort of the fascination factor," said Stuart Elliott, the editor of the real estate magazine The Real Deal. "I think people maybe imagine that there are other people that live these rarified sort of lives and they want to participate in that."
It's not just young starlets and hip musicians whose deals garner headlines. Abelson reported last month that septuagenarian sketch-comedy veteran Carol Burnett sold her apartment in the Trump International condo tower for nearly $5.6 million.
Sometimes there's more to the story than just the star, Abelson said. Part of that Burnett sale, he said, was that it was mogul Japanese real estate billionaire Katsumi Tada who bought the comedian's place.
What seems behind the spate of celebrity real estate news is the fact that New York's luxury housing market continues to move at a whiplash speed.
Take, for instance, Seagram heir and Warner Music Group chief executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. The New York Post reported that Bronfman last year bought a co-op apartment for $19.5 million and a penthouse condo for $19.2 million -- only to later put both apartments up for sale for $24 million and $24.5 million, respectively.