Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Floor Plan Porn: River House Duplex

SELLER: Estate of Betty Evans
LOCATION: NewYork City, NY
PRICE: $25,500,000
SIZE: 7,000 (or so) square feet, 3-5 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms (plus a three bedroom and two-ish bathroom staff wing)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Your Mama has loads of celebrity real estate dish waiting in the wings but we thought it might be fun to switch gears this morning and dive into some good ol' fashioned floor plan porn in the form of a heavy duty high floor duplex at the once high and mighty but currently less coveted River House building in New York City that—we learned via our unofficial aide de camp Hot Chocolate—unexpectedly popped up on the open market yesterday with an asking price of $25,500,000.

The hulky and bulky building—a dignified if dour Art Deco pile built in the early 1930s and once the very quintessence of real estate snootiness in Manhattan—has fallen on less glorious times and lower sale prices over the last few decades. According to New York City-based real estate writer Michael Gross in a recent column for Avenue magazine, that's partly due to its often difficult and somewhat isolated location. Although it's hardly Timbuktu, River House stands several long blocks too far east of Midtown to be considered convenient by many of today's more high-nosed types and the building backs up to the murky East River, directly on top of the loud and filthy six-land F.D.R. Drive. The nearest shopping and dining drag is a rather lackluster stretch of First Avenue, hardly a big draw for folks who can afford to drop $400 on a plain white t-shirt at Bergdorfs and eat at Per Se every night of the week.

Another reason the otherwise baronial building has fallen out of favor with the Manhattan's newer moneyed elite, according to Mister Gross, is the negative perception many have of the (in)famously persnickety board that can capriciously determine who passes muster as a potential resident and who does not. Over the years the powerful board is rumored to poo-poo just about anybody showy or Showbizzy including Diane Keaton and Gloria Vanderbilt who sued over her River House rejection alleging it was because she dated black men. She eventually backed down from the legal imbroglio after the board let it slip it was her shaky balance sheet and not her—ahem—jungle fever that barred entré into what was then one of the most aristocratic, expensive and prestigious apartment houses in the world.

So the possibly untrue rumors go, after notoriously tightly wound Tinseltowner Joan Crawford was rejected by the River House board she engineered the installation of the gigantic, glaring and scenery chewing Pepsi-Cola sign located directly across the river from River House. At the time, Miz Crawford was married to Pepsi-Cola CEO Alfred Nu Steele and the River House board president was (former) Coca-Cola CEO Robert Woodruff. We don't know if the story is true—we can only hope it is because it's such a delicious tale—but y'all can see how it took root and blossomed in the fascinating lexicon of New York's high-brow real estate rumor mill.

The board famously nixed the application of disgraced president Richard Nixon in the dark days following his landmark resignation but did, however, give a pass to highly controversial statesman Henry Kissinger who has shacked up in River House for-evuh.

In addition to Mister Kissinger and a slew of well-to-do attorneys and financial industry fat cats, our entirely unscientific research shows that some of the other plutocratic residents of River House include Dutch West India Company scion Kiliaen Van Rensselaer; Georgia-Pacific paper heiress Celeste Cheatham O'Neil; Ellen Meckler, the wealthy widow of beauty salon tycoon Nathan Finkelstein; and financier Sir Evelyn Robert de Rothschild of the extremely influential and powerful Rothschild banking dynasty.

Also living up at River House are Rosalind P. Walter, the well-born gal who inspired the term "Rosie the Riveter" during World War II; William McCormick Blair, Jr.—the former abassador to both Denmark and the Philippines—and his stylish, helmet haired socialite/philanthropist wife Catherine "Deeda" Blair; and, finally, Arlene Farkas, the ex-wife of bigamist real estate heir Bruce Farkas whose double-life was exposed after he stupidly sent children from both his concurrent marriages to the same swank private school.

Anyhoodles poodles, according to Michael Gross, the seller of the apartment are the executors of the estate of the very recently deceased Betty Evans, the educated, cultured and socially registered ex-wife of Dr. William "Farny" Farnswoth Loomis and the third wife and widow of the hard charging corporate raider Thomas Mellon Evans.

With its $25,500,000 price tag, Miz Evans' posh pied-a-terre duplex is by far the priciest apartment currently on the open market at River House* and, according to listing details, the monthly maintenance comes in at $16,473, a figure that adds up to a $197,676 per year.

The precise square footage isn't recorded on listing details but a couple of quick and rudimentary tabulations on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus puts it at around 7,000. That's tiny compared to some of the behemoth mega-mansion in Beverly Park but, as Manhattanites know, for NewYork City it's remarkably and unusually large.

A careful perusal of the floor plan and Your Mama counted 16 (or so) rooms, five fireplaces (one decorative), 20 closets (half of them walk-ins) and 53 windows with a very rare quadruple exposure. Listing details show the decidedly patrician spread has five bedrooms and six full and five half bathrooms. However, a careful perusal of the floor plan included with online marketing materials (above) and Your Mama came up with slightly more nuanced figures. More on that in a minute.

The public spaces are sumptuously scaled and include an ample and impressive entrance gallery with a wacky, faux-stone wall treatment and inset black and beige marble floors, a baronial formal living room that stretches nearly 30 feet long with direct river views and a 27+ foot long formal dining room furnished with a high-gloss Chippendale table as long as a damn runway at Lincoln Center Fashion Week. This sort of prim and traditional day-core where the shimmering taffeta drapery is laden with all manner of fringe and pasamenterie is hardly Your Mama's cup of decorative tea but we'll take that super-fab, egg-shaped chandelier in the dining room, thank you very much.

Double doors in the formal living room open to a more contemporary and casual—but still quite staid—corner library/den all done up and did over, according to listing details, by famed decorator Billy Baldwin. There's also, Your Mama noted with envy, a wet bar tucked up behind the library. We are not talking, children, about a wet bar hidden behind a cabinet faced with vintage verre églomisé, we're talking about an entire room with a southern city view window that's solely devoted to the storage, mixing and imbibing of booze. Heaven.

A big butler's pantry joins the dining room to the only slightly larger main kitchen as well as the breakfast room, service area(s) and staff wing. Just off the breakfast room there's a walk-in safe for silver storage and a temperature controlled wine room with extra space for—you got it—storing fur coats. Beyond the wine room there's an extensive staff wing with laundry room, three punishingly small bedrooms. Each of the staff bedrooms appears to have a sink and share two separate cubicles with toilets and tub/showers.

Up the curving, Scarlet O'Hara worthy staircase there are two corner guest/family bedroom suites, each with windowed bathroom and a walk-in closet. There's also a multi-room exercise suite equipped with  a sauna almost as large as the three cell-sized staff bedrooms downstairs and could easily be converted to a third guest/family bedroom as is has with walk-in closet and attached private bathroom.

The master suite occupies the northeast and northwest corners of the upper floor and is probably bigger than Your Mama and The Doctor Cooter's entire house. The suite encompasses a private sitting room with fireplace, a corner bedroom, two large and windowed bathrooms and at least four walk-in closets. A large room in the northwest corner could be converted to a fourth guest/family bedroom with private bathroom but in its current configuration, according to the floor plan, it's only accessible through either one of the master bathrooms or through a bathroom that opens off the exercise room.

In addition to her vast duplex in Manhattan Miz Evans maintained substantial homes in the hoity-toity enclaves of Greenwich (CT) and East Hampton (NY). We're not sure if she retained any ownership but once upon a time Mister and Missus Evans owned Buckland Farms, a notable thoroughbred breeding and training facility in Northern Virginia.

*The children will note that the fine folks at StreetEasy show there are nine other apartments currently on the open market at River House that range in price from $3.5 million for a six room two bedroom spread to $12.2 million for a 2 bedroom and 3.5 bathroom triplex penthouse with two roomy roof terraces. Also of note, as far as Your Mama knows, the most paid for an apartment at River House since mid-2004 was the $11,650,000 that Chilean-born investment manager Manual Balbontin paid in February 2011 for the sprawling, 14-room ground floor duplex of (now deceased) Broadway producer Marty Richards

listing photos and floor plan: Brown Harris Stevens

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's nothing more exciting that some well endowed floor plans Mama. Best kind of porn there is. Keep digging. Thanks!

lil' gay boy said...

Porn extraordinaire...

Quite matronly, but a genuine Billy Baldwin interior?

Priceless.

I've always loved the views from here, even if it's considered northern Siberia for the newly rich; personally, I prefer a few blocks buffer from the rabble.

Anonymous said...

Burn it to the ground!!!!!!!!

Jane said...
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Madam Pince said...

As usual, I agree with lil' gay boy 100%.

Anonymous said...

Spectacular. This place is just awesome. But, I think it's overpriced. No matter what the River House was in its day, it's a has been now. In terms of NYC it's in the middle of fuckin nowhere. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice little quiet area if you're into that kind of thing....
But NOTHING has been selling there recently, like absolutely nothing. River views are nice, but I mean lets not forget what's on the other side of the river, queens is a lovely place, but for $25m I'd like a better view than Queens. For $25m you could probably buy a duplex on fifth in a prewar building, and Central Park views are far more desirable to river views.

Anonymous said...

Those Evans kids must be chomping at the bits to divy up mama's moo-lah since she's been dead for exactly 7 days. I mean, this means in all likely hood they had the place appraised and ready to sell BEFORE mama was even declared dead. Now I know it could've been coming for a long time, but still SEVEN DAYS and they're trying to cash out. I guess they don't believe in karma.... I know I'd wait long enough to at east pretend to mourn before tryin to sell off all my rich moms shit.

BTW the obit says the memorial service is on March 9th? Did they mean February 9th? because in today's world with airplanes and all that it seems really unusual that it would be more than a month later. Maybe they want to divy up the dough first and that way the kiddies that got stiffed dont have to show? Meh, who knows

lil' gay boy said...

Madam Pince, you're too sweet!

I do agree that putting this up for sale one week after he demise appears tacky at best, but the obit did mention an attendant of the last 24 years -- pehaps she's been ill for sometime and the sale was already in the works.

Also, it is not uncommon in these circles to wait a month or more before a memorial service to allow the "far-flung" to gather; unlike a funeral, more like an un-fun, blue blood version of an Irish wake, sans booze & song.

Anonymous said...

Cant stop laughing about the double beds in the master bedroom. So Lucy and Ricky or Laura & Robb.

Anonymous said...

I think this is spectacular. It could be amazing - even if it's genuine Billy Balwin. So Matronly. The plans are beautiful. There is one odd bedroom that can only be accessed via two diffrent bathrooms. Guess it must be a sitting room or closet. I think it's a nice location, though overpriced. The neighbors aren't bad. I bet the sale was in the works prior to her death. She must have died in Greenwich - this was just the pied-a-terre!

valiant vance said...
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Property in Delhi said...
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Lukey said...

Yes, the kids probably are chomping at the bit to get at the money. Mr. Mellon was quite estranged from his own (already wealthy) children, so it wouldn't surprise me a bit if he left everything to Betty, who will now pass it on to her children, who presumably are not "Mellon" rich.

GiltEdgeGirl said...

Love it, Mama. Thanks for the post.

Milliscent Morgan said...

Awesome! So beautiful full of classy design and from living room up to dining room I wish I could have this kind of place like a palace and I'm the Queen...just kidding. Anyway talking about kitchen I want to have pantry doors. That's it!

Anonymous said...


I hope the asteroid hits us.

Justin Chan said...
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Marble Polishing said...
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Anonymous said...

thanks for share..

Erhardt said...

The price seems right,maybe even small.I mean if a narrow 5000SF duplex at 834 or low floor at 740 sells for 30 million plus then this is definetely worth 25 million.I mean its bigger(7000SF) with 360 degree view from two floors ffs.It has great river and midtown views even from the kitchen and servants rooms.Not to mention its a duplex, which in these grand buildings are extremely coveted.
For those who say its far from everything, lol.Like the ppl living here go to soho clubs .These ppl are all 40yrs plus, and go to places like the metropolitan club or the plaza to dine, not to downtown.
And the neighbourhood is very nice, very close to midtown.And access to FiDi is superfast, FDR is right there.
I think ppl seriously overrate downtown hoods.Just because of some clubs.Uptwon has far better housing, central park close, midtown close...u name it.
And let us not forget the sick amenities Riverhouse has, the best among all prewars.Not to mention the architecture which is stunning, a zillion times better than any shiny condo downtown.
This building may very well be the best in the city.Grand apartments, great views great amenities, extremely exclusive( no russian oligarchs or arabs here).Its simply a legendary iconic building.Seriosuly underrated.