Friday, March 15, 2013

Week End Wrap Up (03.15.13): 778 Park Avenue

Floor plan porn addicts like Your Mama went hog wild over the 17th floor co-operative apartment at the high-brow 778 Park Avenue in New York City that popped up on the market this week with a $22,500,000 price tag.

The brutally swank building was originally designed by much lauded and applauded pre-war architect Rosario Candela, a man who really understood how filthy rich folks wanted to lived when they moved from mansions to urban apartment houses. Howevuh, hunties, most of the drop dead swellegant original architectural details Mister Candela is known for—think wedding cake moldings, thick window surrounds, pedimented doorways—have been mostly if not entirely stripped from the apartment in favor of a more austere environment that compliment's the sellers' rather impressive collection of name brand contemporary art.

Current listing information shows the roomy but hardly humongous urban aerie has a private elevator landing, a 600-square foot living room with 11-foot ceilings, three proper bedrooms and three wonderfully windowed bathrooms (plus an unusually spacious staff room and windowed bathroom), two fireplaces (in the dining room and library), a three room kitchen suite (butler's pantry, kitchen and separate but adjacent breakfast room), five terraces (plus one Juliet balcony) and—a feature Your Mama loves like the dickens—a walk-in wet bar in the cozy corner library.

While the apartment is undeniably spectacular and, generally speaking, remarkably and efficiently laid out it lacks for closet space—particularly in the master bedroom—and there does not appear to be a powder room. Guests who are unable to hold their water are, then, forced to traipse through one of the bedrooms or—heaven forfend—weave their way deep into the service quarters to use the staff bathroom.

Listing details indicate the apartment has been in the same family for 70 years and our brief and unscientific research indicates that, until her death at 99 earlier this year, the sumptuous if dated spread was owned by fairly low profile pulp and paper heiress, arts and culture patroness and generous philanthropist Celeste Gottesman Bartos and her second husband, architect Armand Phillip Bartos, who predeceased her by about seven years. Mister Bartos is best known, according to his January 2006 obit in the New York Times, as being (partially) responsible for the Shrine of the Book building "at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem built to house the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient manuscripts."

In addition to their art-filled Park Avenue apartment Mister and Missus Bartos maintained a supremely located 3.68 acre spread on Georgica Cove in East Hampton, a walled and gated compound in Santa Fe, N.M., and a villa at Round Hill, Jamaica.

Speaking of Santa Fe—as an unrelated aside—have y'all seen any of the few photos of the super-minimal equestrian and residential complex that Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando designed for smoldering fashion world guru Tom Ford on his 24,000 acre ranch outside Santa Fe? Have mercy. The severe, uber-contemporary style will not appeal to anybody with a an architectural yen for the traditional but, holy damn hell butter beans, it's an architectural tour de force to be sure.

listing photos and floor plan: Sotheby's International Realty


DC Guy said...

I got me a stiffie from today's floor plan porn. Thanks Mama!!

Anonymous said...

So - apartment smackdown.

720 Park 16A vs. 778 Park #17

Both great buildings, equally highly regarded and prestigious. Location virtually identical. Co-op requirements the same. Price is essentially even with $25 million for a fully renovated 720 (figure 2 million to redecorate) vs. 22.5 million for 778 (figure 4.5 million to renovate). You would save at least a year by going with 720 and a redecoration, but that assumes one likes the basics of the current renovation.

Layout: I'd give the slight edge to 778. The living room shape at 720 is awkward, and the one large terrace is mainly off a secondary bedroom (with just a door from the library). I'm guessing the bar off the library at 778 was originally a powder room, but even if I'm wrong it could become one. Both have smallish third bedrooms. There is more service space which could be reconfigured at 778

Now it gets more complicated.... Because of neighboring buildings (the low Asia Society across Park from 720 and the steeper setback of 710 Park to the south) the upper floors of 720 get more light than the upper floors of 778 which look at the similarly sized 770 Park (which is admittedly a much more attractive building than 710). The midtown views are therefore better from 720. 778 looks west over a church and lower buildings, while the A line at 720 looks west onto the B line.

I have been in both buildings, but not into either of these two apartments. Will be VERY interesting to see which one sells first

Anonymous said...

The ceilings in the 720 apartment are 9 1/2 feet.
Edge to 778.

Anonymous said...

Love this apartment. And the books and the art tell me that lives were very well lived here. I hope the lucky new owners are just as happy!

Anonymous said...

This place is just spectacular in terms of layout and proportions. One could easily create a larger master suite out of a secondary bedroom and make another bedroom or larger kitchen out of service areas. I'd give this a slight edge over the 720 unit simply because the living room with terrace is divine.

MamasBoy said...

Those herringbone floors!

lil' gay boy said...

I heartily agree with Anon 7:21 with one exception;

"I'm guessing the bar off the library at 778 was originally a powder room, but even if I'm wrong it could become one."

Bite your tongue! I'd let the "honored" guests pee off a balcony first!


Sandpiper said...

Lovin' the floor plan porn.

Little Buddy (LGB), I share your wet-bar speculation as once being a biffy. I'm always one to audit guests accommodations away from the public rooms, right?

Then went on a recon of bay-windowed room. Not a bedroom. It's full of books, close to the gallery, so may serve as option for private WC. It's been done before, right? If only Aunt Mary could chime in with her observations.

Always appreciate a gallery within line of site to a hopefully impressive living room and other rooms of importance. This one has it.

The servants bedroom was, I speculate, once two rooms side by side. A likely third now used as a windowed laundry room. Huh?

One last wondering. Have arrangements been made to exhibit estate's art prior to whooshing away after marketing photog wrapped?

Lastly, in scanning the art, speculating on the Greek kore statue in the dining room, ca. 530BC. It's either a stager's resin repro, or the real deal, which could potentially yield in the neighborhood of $35-mil.

So much for my view from the peanut gallery.

Anonymous said...

Excellent smackdown analysis by the earlier anonymous poster.

Apartments of this caliber don't come to market everyday and when two such similar candela trophy apartments hit the market in the same week, it sets the stage for the perfect smackdown. I'd like to point out a few considerations:

- Location: Virtually identical, yes. I may be nitpicking on the smallest of differences but I give the slight edge to 778. 720 is a block away from Hunter College and there is slightly higher foot traffic from real world folks. 778 on the other hand is almost 3 blocks away from the nearest center of real world folk activity, Lenox Hill Hospital. 770 and 778 Park occupy what I consider to the be the quietest, least trafficked, and most desirable corner on Park, the west side on Park and 73rd street.

- Layout: I prefer 778, mostly due to the fact that the three main entertaining rooms (LR, DR, LB) face park ave with light permitting french doors and terraces. As a mere commoner, the lack of of an easily accessible powder room is not much of a factor for my personal tastes, but for those looking to host republican party fundraisers with captains of industry, the lack of a powder room is a fatal flaw.

The bigger issue for me, which no one has yet mentioned, is the lack of a coat closet just off the entry foyer.

- View: It's hard to comment on the quality of the views without having stepped into the apartments. But we can speculate based on the floorplan and the surrounding buildings.

720 clearly will have superior views of midtown. The LR/DR at 720 have plenty of large windows and terraces facing south and from the 16th floor, there should be an excellent view of the nyc skyline.

However, I prefer a central park view over the NYC skyline view and based on real estate prices, the market seems to agree. 720 though has very limited western exposures. The DR has no western exposure at all, probably due to the B line as mentioned by a previous poster. The only rooms with a western exposure is the kitchen and the 3rd bedroom and even those rooms may have their central park views partially or fully blocked by the B line, I cannot be sure.

778 on the other hand occupies the full floor and should have at least some view to central park. Most importantly, the Master Bedroom as well as the attached terrace should have central park views. It's hard to see from the listing pictures any park view from the MBR, but then again, it is shot from an angle that faces more south than west. Based on the surrounding buildings, there has to be a nice central park view from the MBR at 778. I can think of nothing more glorious than sleeping and waking up to a framed view of central park.

- Price: 720 is 2.5 mil more expensive and 778 has a roughly 4K a month higher maint. I'd rather save the 2.5 mil and pay 4K a month extra in maint but this is essentially evenly priced.

The verdict - The higher ceilings, extra light, layout of entertaining rooms all facing park ave, central park views from the MBR (I assume) and the slightly better block of 778 outweigh the extra space, powder room and coat closet of 720.

Very close fight but 778 wins.

Anonymous said...

Celeste Bartos was a major collector and philanthropist - so while it may have been tidied up a bit for photography I highly doubt anything was brought in

The statue in the dining room looks more like a Khmer goddess to me. Hopefully legally acquired before the early 70s so Cambodia will not try to seize it!

I would expect a major sale at Christies or Sotheby's - or a large bequest to a major museum.

This is likely going to be a representation of the old way of life, where the contents of an apartment or house were worth more than the real estate itself. It is sad that most of these expensive places today are filled with dreck that does not come close to honoring the value of the real estate. And bravo to Celeste for having an apartment that looks modern and livable today - just imagine how shocking it must have been when it was first done

Sandpiper said...

Hi Anon 8:57

Regarding the statue, let's agree to disagree :)

My $35-mil speculation in above post -- if authentic -- is my casual comparison on the value of art surpassing the resident containing it. We're on the same page there.

Your Cambodian observation is a beautiful comparison, but I'm respectfully staying with my story :) in fear that my FA prof, who gave three lectures on this, will hunt me down and lower my grade.

For me, it's easier to recognize the kore in frontal view. Located one in NYT piece on this property. Second from last photograph.

Some kore 411 is linked below. BTW, 600 BC peplos references the gauze-like soft folds of the garment, sometimes including gentle sashes, sometimes not -- and sometimes much more ornate than the piece we're discussing.

Love these healthy discussions, don't you?


Stock Tips said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I don't see where anyone has mentioned how similar the plan is to the late Mrs. Astor's pad in the same building.

Mr DHH said...

This place reminds me of Mrs Brooke Astor'apartment (first floor).Took forever to sell (moot point she lived to 104 and owned the pace for 50 plus years to be abused by her son-loving grandson and Oscar De La Renta's wife came to the resuce).Trophy building,view and a co op board level 5 security clearance (it is old money only with no fuss-quiet and elegant only).

17.5 million with light reconstruction (only way to pass the board-sorry ladies and gentlemen).

Anonymous said...

Wrong DHH on the renovation front...

Lots of major gut jobs recently at 778 - Rockefeller in the former Buckley maisonette, the Winters on the 5th floor, former Astor apartment on 16 (and a bit of 15) right now. So many at once that the building built an exterior elevator behind the kitchens on the north west corner to stop the service elevator from jamming up during the day.

There have also been continuing leaks and issues with the actual penthouse on the top two floors. No clue what will happen with the 18th floor that just sold, but all told including this apartment that means that the entire top of the building will have been majorly renovated in the recent past.

The board at 778 has never been seen as overly fussy - more concerned with money than much else. The Astor apartment had a foreign bidder who had issues. The apartment had issues of it own - including the fact that all of the flues of the living room fireplaces up to the 16th floor bend and go to the west over the entrance gallery in the Astor apartment, making for a lower ceiling many did not like. (but allowing for a large living room on 17). The timing for a major renovation during the height of the recession, coupled with the high profile any purchaser would instantly have received (no banker would want to be seen as upstaging his boss buying Mrs. Astor's apartment even if he could well afford it) added to the supposedly iconic nature of the Albert Hadley interior made for a PR nightmare that many of the very rich were happy to walk away from - especially for an apartment that was a little quirkier (and certainly creakier) than many other trophy apartments on Park.

The Bartos apartment is in several ways better than Astor, with none of the bad PR and better timing. Let's see how it goes....

And yes, btw, that statue in the dining room is classic Khmer. Sorry, Sandpiper

Anonymous said...

And 720 is in contract first...