Monday, May 5, 2008

Brooke Astor's Posh Park Avenue Aerie

SELLER: Estate of Brooke Astor
LOCATION: 778 Park Avenue, New York, NY
PRICE: $46,000,000 (monthly maintenance = $17,251)
SIZE: 5 bedrooms 5.5 bathrooms (plus 4 staff rooms)
DESCRIPTION: ...A large centrally located reception gallery, with wet bar, leads to the beautifully scaled entertaining spaces which comprises a grand living room with a wood-burning fireplace and open views up and down Park Avenue, the well renowned Albert Hadley red lacquer, corner library with a wood-burning fireplace and French doors leading out to a terrace. An expansive kitchen with pantry, service hall, and three maid's rooms extend the possibility of a vast eat-in kitchen and family room with views toward Central Park...

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Behold the ballyhooed and behemoth Park Avenue penthouse that was home to high society high priestess Brooke Astor for more years than Your Mama has lived on this earth. Surely all the children already know the incredible story of Miz Astor's 105 year old life, how she fraternized with the finest and how she gave away hundreds of millions of dollars of her inherited fortune. And then of course, we're all too familiar with the sad saga and lurid accusations of elder abuse that ensued in her dying days. If we had the time or inclination to re-write that story it would surely read like the script of a melodramatic telenovela. However, why take the time when we're falling behind in our other duties and when New York Magazine did an excellent job recounting every sordid, scandalous and dee-lishus detail of the big money death bed drama late last year?

So let's stick to what we know, which is the real estate. Rather surprisingly, the much discussed and highly anticipated listing of her posh Park Avenue duplex hit the internets late last week with a bank account busting–but not unexpected–asking price of $46,000,000. Honestly puppies, Your Mama is quite surprised to see this prime piece of Park Avenue real estate hit the open market at all. We'd have bet our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly that there were oil barons, hedge hogs and filthy rich potentates and tycoons from around the world lined up three deep at the office door of lucky listing agent Leighton Candler screaming and waving bank statements showing colossal cash reserves and assets. Good thing we're not the betting type, right?

Anyhoo, Your Mama does not need to tell the children that one need be far more than just a little rich to persuade the lovely Miz Candler to pull the keys from the vault and offer a glimpse inside the hallowed halls and rooms of Miz Astor's aerie. Not only is the regal Rosario Candela designed 778 Park Avenue an all cash building, but it's likely that the powerful co-op board will require any potential buyer show three (or more) times the purchase price in assets. Liquid assets.

As expected, the 14 room, 5 bedroom and 5.5 bathroom penthouse is jaw dropping, mouth watering and insanely luxe enough to cause even the healthy to have a seizure. Yes, the day-core is probably a little Rich-Grandma for most people's modern sensibilities, but in Your Mama 's big book of interior day-core it's still drop dead dignified and we think the soo-blime work of Sister Parish (and Albert Hadley) has withstood and endured the troublesome test of time. Besides and none the less, it's expected by all the know-nothings that Your Mama has spoken to that the buyer will probably remove every bit of Brooke Astor in a full scale renovation.

The size, scope and gray-shush lay out of the 15th and 16th floor duplex is what really leaves looky-loos like Your Mama and folks with $46,000,000 to spare drooling and chomping at the bit to get in there with a big name architect and a team of nice gay decorators. First there are the exquisitely scaled public rooms (the 29' entrance gallery, the 26' dining room, the 28' long living room) which are perfect for impressing charity function guests. Then there are the six terraces, five fireplaces, 4 staff rooms, and of course, last but not least is the legendary lacquered library that was done up and worked over by noted New York City decorator Albert Hadley (a former acolyte of Sister Parish, natch) who famously coated the walls with 10 meticulous layers of glossy red paint.

Honestly kids, Your Mama doesn't care if the stinking rich new owner rips this place up, installs CIA style security, a walk in wine cave, a cigar lounge, a gym, a home office and/or whatever other dee-luxe nonsense billionaires think they need in their homes. But for the sake of history and provenance, we do so hope they leave the bones of the library intact. Sure, swap out the balloon curtain things–a bit of frippery we've never understood anyway, trade the flower printed sofas for something down filled and covered in velvet. We're good with that. Have at it. But please, please keep the red lacquered walls that look like they're dripping the blood of the under-privileged and please restore floor to ceiling bookcases with their brass accents and fill them with rare books and first editions with exquisite bindings that cost more than most people can spend on an automobile. Because for better or worse, some things just should never change.

Your Mama is quite certain that the sale of this apartment will have all the real estate gossips' tongues wagging and fingers a-flyin' on their keyboards. So get ready, because the buyer speculation shit is going to be hitting the fan soon. Good times. Good times.


Anonymous said...

Good times, indeed.

Anonymous said...

The kitchen and bathrooms may need to be updated but other than that, the pictures don't really show that it needs a full-scale renovation. I would move in AS-IS

Anonymous said...

Am I missing something here? Or, actually, a couple of somethings.

1st, this floorplan seems to be one bathroom short. That bedroom next to the sitting room doesn't seem to have access to a full bath. Surely that room across the hall is only a powder room. Or, at least, I don't spot another powder room anywhere and that room seems to have but 2 fixtures.

Also, I see neither vents nor window units in the pictures. Could it possibly be that a unit in this building has no air conditioning whatsoever?

Mama, please enlighten us here, because we are agog with curiosity.

Anonymous said...

Please take a look at the listing on the website

Click on the floor plan. You'll see a "1" and a "2" at the top left. Click on the 2, and you'll see the original floor plan come up. There has been some reconfiguring over the years - the sitting room was once a bathroom and dressing room for the bedroom which currently has no bathroom of its own. You'll see that the smallest bedroom was reconfigured too, to make room for the staircase. I can't seem to figure out where the original staircase was.

As for the air conditioning, the only vent I see is under the far left window in the living room (red rug). I don't know if this is for heat only, but it's possible that if this unit doesn't have central air (I'm sure most newer renovations in the building include it), the window units have not been installed for the season yet (or were removed for the pictures).

Anonymous said...

If the monthly maintenance is $17,000........what are the property taxes in NYC, if it sells at asking price??????

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:32, this is a co-op, so the real estate taxes are included in the monthly maintenance payment.

Anonymous said...

I love the floor plan!

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:05....

Two things. First, you will not be able to locate the original staircase. The lower floor was actually the upper floor of a duplex on floors 14 and 15 and not originally connected to the 16th floor apartment. Mrs. Astor got the apartment below hers and cut a hole in the floor and connected the 15th and 16th floors after she moved in (I still remember that it was after her mother died, who lived in the downstairs apt., but can't find ANYTHING to back that up, so my credibility weakens). If you look at the original floorplan, there is REALLY TINY writing telling you what floors are represented that back up what I'm saying.


Taken from :

"Hadley got the job, and created a magnificent library for Vincent Astor’s rare books, which until that point had been in storage. The library he created featured brass-trimmed, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and red lacquered walls whose rich color required ten coats of paint. The room became a benchmark of Hadley’s career. (There is still one fake item in the final design: The false book panels behind the camel hide the air conditioner; see slide two.)"

The rich get to hide their HVAC vents and equipment behind decorative false panels ;)

Anonymous said...

Finally found where I read about her mother living below her.

Taken from:

"“The Money Room”

“When her mother died—her mother lived in the apartment below—Brooke broke through her apartment in the sitting room, put in a beautiful curved staircase, and took over the downstairs. Sis and I went there, and Sis said to Brooke, ‘What are you going to do in this room?’ She said, ‘Oh, this is where I am going to give Vincent’s money away!’” "