Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Old W.R. Hearst Penthouse in NYC Officially Lists for $38 Million

SELLERS: Benedict Silverman
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $38,000,000
SIZE: 7,000-ish square feet, 7 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen, children, Your Mama has the in-laws in town so we're a bit ocupado for most of the day but before we trot off to watch a whole bunch of professional tennis players whack a yellow ball around a green court we thought we'd offer the children a few snaps and the floor plan for a quardruplex penthouse in New York City that was once part of a much larger quintuplex penthouse created in the late 19-teens by lavish living newspaperman William Randolph Hearst.

In the early part of the 20th century Mister Hearst leased the top three floors of 137 Riverside Drive to use as a private residence overlooking the might Hudson River. He later requested the building's owner for more space but he was rebuffed. So, like any self-respecting captain of industry with more money than he knows what to do with, he went ahead and purchased the entire building for $950,000 and—so the story goes—proceeded to add a copper mansard to the building's top that was 100 feet long and 30 feet tall where displayed his vast collection of medieval tapestries and suits and armor and such. Mister Hearst, who b lost the building (and his five floor penthouse) in 1930 to foreclosure—by then the magnate had relocated to Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA—and the super-sized urban aerie was eventually broken up into smaller apartments.

In the 1990s about 7000 square feet of various units that once comprised Mister Hearst's megamansion in the sky—along with about 7,000 square feet of private terraces—were bought up by real estate financier and art collector Benedict Silverman who, in case you like a little depth to your real estate story, a couple years ago made headlines in the art world when he began to exhibit and sell off his extensive collection of 20th-century German and Austrian artworks including paintings by Egon Schiele, Otto Dix, George Grosz, and Gustav Klimt. Impressive stuff. Anyways...

Mister Benedict and his wife embarked on a renovation of the former Hearst penthouse that, really, has very little to do with the original layout and finishing. Gone are the heavily ornamented Greek, English, and Julius Caesar rooms. and in there place are a still insanely luxurious although much less rococo interiors that include, as per listing details, a total of seven bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms. The floor plan shows the existing penthouse has a double-height foyer; an 800 square foot combination living/dining room; a cozy, river-view library; a combination kitchen and family room with fireplace and direct access to a large, south-facing terrace; front and rear staircases; and a top floor solarium with curved walls and a nearly 100-foot long terrace that hovers over Riverside Drive and the Hudson River.

Bedrooms are spread through the penthouse including the master on the main level has a dressing room, several closets and direct access to the largest of the penthouse's five terraces. A self-contained two bedroom and two bathroom apartment on the 12th floor—accessible via staircase in the penthouse's laundry room—provides additional space for live-in domestic workers or snoring house guests.

listing photos and floor plan: Brown Harris Stevens


Anonymous said...

Well, it ain't much but it's home.
$2 to whoever finds the original plans.

lil' gay boy said...

Always was intrigued by the Hearsts' NY sojourn as little was known about it or the local back-story.

Prior to losing the Clarendon to foreclosure (and in an apparent attempt to distract Mrs. Hearst), WRH also purchased (and remodeled) a weekend house in Sands Point on Long Island.

One of many homes built by Alva Vanderbilt following her divorce from Willie (uncle to Anderson Cooper's grandfather Reggie), Beacon Towers was said to have served as the inspiration for Jay Gatsby's house (Kidd's Rocks/Keewaydin/Land's End, which was actually within sight of Beacon Towers, was the inspiration for Daisy Buchannan's house; it was recently demolished after the developer ceased maintenance on it, allowing it to fall into ruin).

The Fitzgeralds were then living in Great Neck, where F. Scott wrote The Great Gatsby, shortly before WRH bought (and rather unsympathetically remodeled) Beacon Towers.

Anonymous said...

What an odd assemblage of rooms. I very much doubt if all the king's horses and all the king's men are even up for this task. Have to love where Mr. Silverman's heart was, but no idea where Mr. Silverman's head was, when he came up with this plan.

Pigtown*Design said...

Another little known fact: Hearst not only owned San Simeon, he owned a castle in Wales. It was a smallish 12th century on the cliffs overlooking the Bristol Channel, and he bought in rooms, halls, etc. to almost triple the size of the place. He also cut away the cliff-front and terraced it for gardens. He added a jousting field. Hearst also brought electricity and phone service to that part of Wales.

Here are some pictures: the castle and the gardens

Anonymous said...

Hey! I love the Beast Garden. :)

Anonymous said...

If you look up the address on google images, there are some old black & white images of the original Hearst penthouse.

FonHom said...

Thank you lil' gay boy and Pigtown*Design for adding delightful background to the story. Pigtown - I see you're in the DC-Balto area!

RE Comments problem: guess I'm a two-fisted reader, looking at comments on iPhone and PC at the same time. LGB's original comment (#2) is still on the mobile site, but missing from the web, where LGB's name is above Anonymous 12:00PM's comment, originally #3.

Unknown said...

A strong supporter of the Australia-Indonesia relationship, Benjamin serves on the Australia-Indonesia Business Council's Executive Committee. He was invited by the Australian government's Department of Foreign Affairs' to participate in the Indonesian strategy group following the release of the White Paper 'Australia in the Asian Century' and has spoken at numerous conferences in favour of strengthening the bi-lateral relationship between the two countries including at La Trobe University's Centre for Dialogue. Benjamin continues to maintain close relationships with key decision makers within Indonesia's government and business community in support of facilitating cross-border trade.
Ben Cass , Benjamin Cass
Ben Cass , Benjamin Cass

bentley said...

The gallery layout and decor is swoon-worthy, but the rest of the floor plan falls apart from there. Until, of course, you get to the third floor - Yowza. Yes, please.

Any home of this caliber in New York City that doesn't have a formal dining room shows an appalling lack of all sorts of necessary things on the architect/designer/owners part.

Sandpiper said...

The Silvermans' rework must have suited a down to earth life style. Good for them. The gallery sight lines to both the library and living room are high drama. Otherwise, it's a mine field.

Seven thousand square feet and only an eat-in kitchen for dining? Adding insult to injury, the listing actually states options of potentially converting the library to a dining room, or that the living room could fit a table. Ouch. I'd never bring that up in on paper; it'already inferred on the floor plan. A HUGE rule in advertising is this: Don't ever promote your product's downside(s)/weaknesses in writing; let the sales rep dance around that with clients. Besides, neither of those dining options facilitate discrete catering. Buffet anyone?

Speaking of buffets, I've been to many nice ones at a hilarious Hungarian friend's house (featured by Mama a few times). It is a separate book-filled, patina-paneled breakfast room. Meals magically in place on a Louie-something console prior to entering. Good times.

lil' gay boy said...


You've always had a good eye for (and been partial to) staircases & stair-halls; were you born on an incline -- an Alp, perhaps?


What's your quintessential stair-hall, bar none? And the most egregious one?

Anonymous said...

Best stair hall is the Kersey-Coates Reed house in Lake forest, Illinois.


lil' gay boy said...


Although not nearly so grand, but rather for the ceremonial space it occupies, my personal favorite is in the old Duryea/Bradley Martin house, Knole, where Reversal of Fortune was filmed.

bentley said...

Anon 3:51

WOW, that is quite a stair hall! Thanks for sharing. I will find out more about this house.

LGB - One of your favorites you introduced us to, Knole, has an incredible stair hall. Paul Williams sure knew how to do it, as well. Oddly, for all the hoopla about 740 Park, I've always found the staircases in many of its apartments to be on the anemic side.

As for egregious, I'd say any suburban mcmansion with an 'impress the guests' double curving staircase is up there. To cite an old friend of ours, they always look like a gaping vulva. Boom.

Born on an incline, I like that.

Not sure where my stair hall obsession came from (Sandpiper gets it), but it's the the first impression one gets from a house, so it should be both welcoming, alluring, and telling as to what lies in the rooms radiating from it.

Eek, I'm terrified of Mama's wooden spoon :)

Anonymous said...

Looks like a high end fixer upper.

Anonymous said...

I did a little search and found many more photos on the architect's website. I think the images are perhaps better than those in the listing.


-Eagle Eye

The Devoted Classicist said...

I think the floor plan is so bad because there is a level missing from the apartment during the Hearst ownership. Hearst had a two-story armor gallery; it appears that the living room of this apartment currently for sale was created from the upper part of that space. (The original Dining Room and Kitchen are now in the apartment on the floor below).

Unknown said...

Can anyone here please suggest me about the best penthouse nyc? I want to reserve for the celebration of my 4th anniversary. Please suggest if you have idea.