Monday, September 30, 2013

Bunny Mellon's Former Mansion Up For Grabs Again

Although it's 72% smaller than the 62,000 square foot Residence at River House and currently listed for a whole lot less money—$46 million, to be exact—a super-duper rich person with a yen for a New York City trophy property could do a whole lot worse than the downright aristocratic, double-wide townhouse mansion that was custom built in the mid-1960s for sick-rich American banking heir Paul Mellon and his second wife, Rachel Lambert Mellon, herself an heiress to a mouthwash fortune—her grandfather invented Listerine—who is otherwise known in her upper class social circles as as Bunny.

The 40-foot wide, mid-block mansion—current listing details describe the house as "NeoFrench classic style" and 2006 listings called "Paris in New York:—on a particularly tony stretch of tree-lined East 70th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues, stands five stories above ground and measures in at a considerable 11,100-ish square feet.

The Mellon mansion's current owners, Irish businessman Tony White and his wife Clare according to property records, purchased the property directly from Miz Mellon in July 2006 for $22,500,000. Miz Mellon, a high-cultured philanthropist and accomplished horticulturist who presides over a bucolic estate in Upperville, VA that encompasses thousands of acres, is now more than 100 years old and over the last few years has divested herself of much of her private real estate portfolio. In 2009 she sold an Manhattan townhouse, also on East 70th Street, for $13.5 million to former Morgan Stanley CEO John J. Mack and this year, the children may recall, Miz Mellon sold a 26-acre water-front Cape Cod compound to multi-billionaire mining magnate William "Bill" Koch for $19.5 million. Anyways...

Using the floor plan provided with digital marketing materials Your Mama counted six bedrooms, eight full and four half bathrooms (plus a w/c in the basement), three kitchens, at least five fireplaces, two laundry rooms, and more than three dozen closets and half a dozen walk-in storage rooms. We calculated nearly 2,500 square feet of private outdoor space, all designed once upon a time by Miz Mellon who, don't cha know, also re-designed the Rose Garden at the White House for her long-time gal pal Jackie Kennedy. (For the record: 2006 listings indicate there are five staff bedrooms but we didn't see them marked on the floor plan included with current online marketing materials.)

Mister and Missus Mellon's Big Apple mansion replaced a pair of mid-19th century townhouses and was—as was and remains the expensive custom of the very rich—custom-built to their own specifications, which may explain the huge house's somewhat idiosyncratic configuration.

Although as large as a suburban macmansion, it appears to Your Mama that the townhouse lacks a proper, guest-impressing staircase. It's almost rare as a unicorn for a house of this stature not to have a grand staircase that, at the very least, links the piano nobile to the floor above and/or below, but alas. Certainly the mansion's main staircase is expertly crafted and finely finished with exquisite materials that only rich people can afford but it is, none-the-less, practically hidden in the far back corner of the residence where it can not be easily ogled at by the Chinese food delivery man. Only slightly more conveniently located next to the main stair case is an elevator that serves all six floors of living space.

Also peculiar compared to more standard Manhattan townhouse layouts is that the informal family quarters—kitchen, family room, study, and one of the two laundry rooms—were settled on the second floor while the grandly dressed public rooms—drawing room and dining room connected by a couple of vestibules—were placed high up on the third floor where they spill out through numerous French doors to an elevated courtyard garden. There's also a formally arranged garden off the back of the ground floor where, in addition to a decent-sized staff bedroom and bathroom, there's also a library/office with fireplace and direct access to the rear garden, an adjoining study nook, a small secondary kitchen, and two powder rooms.

The fourth floor is devoted entirely to adjoining double master suites and there are three more moderately-sized en suite guest/family bedroom on the fifth. The Mellons, as y'all may have noticed from your own perusals of the floor plan including with current marketing materials, did up the master suite up in manner Your Mama might call Old School High Wasp wherein the Mister and Missus of the house maintain completely separate—if adjoining—suites with individual bedrooms and, preferably—as is the case in the Mellon manse, with separate dressing areas and separate en-suite facilities.

If $130 million for 62,000 square feet of raw space at River House is financially out of the question and $46 million for a pedigreed townhouse on what is arguably one of the best (and most expensive) residential blocks in all of Manhattan is still too rich for your trophy property seeking pocketbook, low-profile but obviously prodigiously wealthy financier Peter C. R. Huang as re-listed his titanic, palatial 14-room duplex apartment at the preposterously posh 740 Park Avenue for $29,500,000 after failing to sell it back in 2008 with it popped up for sale with a much higher $38,000,000 price tag. Almost seems like a bargain, don't it?

listing photos and floor plan: Sotheby's International Realty


Anonymous said...

This actually looks like a French country house adapted to be a New York townhouse.

You people who love floorplans must teach me how to look at them – I have no idea what's important.

For example, I'm watching this one and I have no idea why is the kitchen in the middle of the house and next to a study:

Anonymous said...

I like how the main rooms are up on 3.
They're brighter and closer to the bedrooms.
And even though there's no main staircase, there is a windowed staircase.
And you didn't even mention that awesome butlers kitchen with dumbwaiter AND service stair

lil' gay boy said...

They don't build 'em like this anymore - despite the "idiosyncratic" layout, this typifies the last gasp of the Gilded Age in New York.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate during this spin of the economic status wheel, the idea of allotting space for a reflecting pool is not in vogue. It most likely will be sacrificed, as will be the residence, to some current status trend of demonstrated wealth.
Having never been prom queen or a bride (bitter, party of one), the practicality of some drama ensuring stair case, although beautiful, is lost on me. It saddens me to think this home could be destroyed. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed it will be granted pardon.

Anonymous said...

The Rabbi concurs with Mama and LGB concerning the idiosyncrasies of the former Mellon townhouse while acknowledging its intrinsic beauty. And the home is only two and one half blocks away from the Frick Collection, the Rabbi's favorite exquisite small museum in North America, which also has two gardens, and three very fine Vermeers!

Nevertheless, when home-shopping the Rabbi considers day-in and day-out living, and always maintains her perspective of practicality: The former Mellon home is further away from Fairway, even the UES location, where groceries cost nickels and dimes more than identical items at Fairway's B'way and 75th location! For this reason alone, the Rabbi must pass on submitting a written offer for 125 East 70th Street.

Rabbi Hedda LaCasa

Anonymous said...

The second floor was entirely staff quarters when Mrs. Mellon owned it- the current owners have made the changes to the second floor- media room, etc...
It is essentially a 3 story house built on top of a 2 story service area. Imagine what a nice environment for the staff!

Anonymous said...

That makes sense, there are an awful lot of bathrooms on that floor.

Anonymous said...

Wow $46 mil and no private parking! Looks as though placing the public entertaining spaces up on the 3rd floor was designed to take advantage of the adjacent large rooftop deck, which looks yummy, and which the 4th-floor masters gaze down upon. Has me wondering if any of the pieces of furniture on view are worth more than my entire house!

Anonymous said...

It's a lot like a podium.
Usually a highrise would sit on top of a parking garage and offer a setback on the transfer floor.
This has all the service areas on 1 and 2 and then on 3 you get a cook new shape, a nice terrace, and way more light than you'd ever have on the first or second floors. Not only because you have two exposures, but also because you're mostly over the shadow line from surrounding buildings.