The just-finished Four Seasons project in downtown Seattle won't identify most of its wealthy condo residents, but property records show they range from a Las Vegas animal-rights activist to retired Nordstrom co-chairman John McMillan.

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The ultra-luxury, just-finished Four Seasons hotel/condo project in downtown Seattle put out a news release a few days ago announcing that 25 of its 36 “private residences” had sold, and 22 of the sales had closed.

This, according to the general manager, was evidence of “steady demand” for the high-end condos, in spite of current economic woes.

The news release didn’t announce who those buyers are — more on that later. It also didn’t say that 23 of those 25 units were pre-sold more than 18 months ago, before the economy tanked.

Sales at the Four Seasons, like sales everywhere, haven’t been exactly brisk lately. But spokeswoman Meg Paynor says the developer, Seattle Hotel Group (SHG), isn’t concerned. “There’s been a strong pipeline of interested buyers,” she maintains.

Even so, two units now are being advertised for lease, including a 2,250-square-foot, water-view condo on the 18th floor that’s yours for a cool $15,000 a month.

Paynor wouldn’t say whether those two units are among the 11 that haven’t sold.

Who’s bought the other 25 homes in Seattle’s most expensive condominium project? SHG and the project’s marketers have guarded most buyers’ identities carefully for months, saying only that they constitute a Who’s Who of Seattle’s rich and famous.

But now that most sales have closed, public records reveal what SHG won’t.

The 22 condos that have closed so far went for anywhere from $1.26 million to $11.4 million, the records indicate. The average price: about $5.5 million.

Some buyers don’t qualify as household names, at least not here. One is a partner in the Seattle office of a global management-consulting firm. Another is a Las Vegas animal-rights activist whose family controls a media, real-estate and gambling empire there.

Other buyers are better-known. They include:

• Jay Jacobs, founder and namesake of the teen clothing-store chain that went out of business a decade ago.

• Kent and Roberta Williams, the retired founders of computer-game maker Sierra Online.

• Retired Nordstrom co-chairman John McMillan.

• Arts patrons Bagley and Virginia Wright, who have made no secret of their involvement with Four Seasons.

• Charles Wright, their son, chairman of the retirement-community development firm Merrill Gardens.

• Hospitality-company CEO and Space Needle co-owner H.S. Wright III.

Some buyers purchased their condos through trusts or limited-liability corporations, masking their identities. But the records do contain some hints.

An LLC called Sound Vista Properties, for instance, bought Unit 1602 for $11.3 million. Its address is the same Bellevue post-office box as that of several entities headed by telecom magnate Bruce McCaw.

Something called the Neppo Trust bought two condos for a total of more than $9.5 million. Its address is a Mercer Island house that high-tech entrepreneur and investor Peter van Oppen owned until last year.

And Neppo is Oppen spelled backward.

— Eric Pryne

Directors’ cut: Boards downsize their own pay

Struggling sportswear retailer Eddie Bauer may be on the leading edge of a trend — not in next year’s fashion, but in this year’s pay for its board of directors.

The Bellevue company recently said it would slash by half the cash paid to its board members — previously $65,000 a year. Another local company, Intermec, followed Feb. 4 with a more modest 10 percent cut in the yearly cash payments and meeting fees for its outside board members. Each, of course, has laid off hundreds of employees in recent months. When companies are eliminating staff members and cutting pay for their top executives, spending less on the board of directors might seem like a logical step — or at least a good bit of pain-sharing PR.

But since the current recession smacked Corporate America, “that’s the first actual solid case I’ve seen of this,” says Ralph Ward, publisher of Boardroom Insider, an electronic newsletter on corporate governance. “It seems to be very much in the air as an issue,” but few companies have actually pruned their directors’ pay.

That may be because the directors themselves are the ones who make the decision. But Ward says a reasonable argument against cutting directors’ pay can also be made.

“Even at major Fortune 500 companies, directors don’t earn that much” compared with the company’s overall costs, he says.

Board members face more demands these days, he adds, and directors with strong financial expertise are in short supply.

“If you’re on the board of a company that’s facing tough times, it’s typically going to take a lot of hours, at odd times,” Ward says. “You can make a genuine case that it would be counterproductive to say you’re going to work a lot harder and be paid less.”

Eddie Bauer shrank its board from 10 to seven members, and in addition to cutting the cash payments it will reduce the annual equity grants directors receive — worth $100,000 in 2007 — by an unspecified amount.

Intermec says it will save $400,000 this year with 10 percent cuts in the base pay of its top executives and the cash compensation of its outside directors this year. The reductions will remain in place until changed — by the directors.

The upcoming proxy season — many companies disclose their pay arrangements for executives and directors in March and April — could reveal more pinching of boardroom wallets.

Boardroom watcher Ward says he hasn’t seen that thinking catch on elsewhere yet, but he’s not ruling anything out: “Things that seemed unthinkable in mid-2008 are happening as we speak.”

— Rami Grunbaum

Comments? Send them to Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@-

seattletimes.com or 206-464-8541