Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Rockefeller Residence

SELLER: Mark and Renee Rockefeller
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $15,500,000
SIZE: 7,500 square feet (approx.), 4 bedrooms, 4 full and 3 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A number of weeks ago Your Mama was chit chatting with our friend Hot Chocolate who brought to our attention a well laid out and eccentrically decorated townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan listed with an asking price of $15,500,000.

We knew not a thing about the kooky crib so, as per usual, Your Mama went a-peepin' and a-pokin' through the property records. Like many homes owned by the rich and famous, the bow fronted Georgian Revival townhouse in question is owned through a limited liability company. It took Your Mama some time to crack the code, but eventually we did. Here's how it went down, my little brass buttons. A little fussing around the property records turned up an address that links directly back to the Rockefeller family offices at, natch, Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan. But which Rockefeller? We slowly worked our way through the byzantine Rockefeller family tree until by process of elimination Your Mama determined the house is owned by Renee and Mark Rockefeller, the youngest son of Happy and Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller.

For those not down with all the dirt on America's moneyed elite, the Rockefeller money comes largely from the fortune made by J.D. Rockefeller (Senior) who struck it rich with Standard Oil. Nelson Rockefeller, one of J.D. Rockefeller Junior's six children, was the former Vice President of the United States and former Governor of New York. Are the children following?

Listen chickens, due to to the complexity of the property records, we can't say with 100% certainty this is Mark and Renee Rockefeller's residence, but we are 99.9999% sure. We were, after all, able to connect both his and her name to the property address and the name of the limited liability company in which the townhouse is held is made up of a combination of the first names of Mister and Missus Rockefeller. Take that for what you will.

The expensively and impressively educated Mister Rockefeller,he of Buckley, Deerfield, Princeton and Harvard, grew up at Kykuit, the sprawling and outrageously opulent family estate in plush Pocantico Hills, NY (pictured above). To his credit, Mister Rockefeller has not rested on the laurels and income of his family fortune. Not only does he operate in the world of high finance and venture capitalism, he and the Missus own and operate the South Fork Lodge, a resort/retail enterprise in Swan Valley, ID. So bully for him.

Property records show that Mister and Missus Rockefeller picked up the townhouse in July of 2005 for $10,800,000. They bought the residence from software billionaire Marc Ewing and his wife Lisa Lee who apparently sold it for less than the $11,250,000 records show they paid for it in January of 2003. In case any of the children are Broadway babies with a thing for high end real estate, the house had once been owned by Dorothy Stickney, a noted Broadway actress who went to meet the great director in the sky in 1999 at the ripe old age of 101. She had been married to Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning theatrical producer, playwright librettist (and etc.) Howard Lindsay who went to meet his producer in the sky in 1968.

According to StreetEasy, this is not the first time at this particular real estate rodeo for Mister and Missus Rockefeller who unsuccessfully attempted to sell their townhouse in the spring of 2008 when it was on the market for a few months with an asking price of $18,500,000. The property was not put back on the market–or, at least, not on the open market–until late April of 2010 when it reemerged with it's current and much lower price tag of $15,500,000.

Listing information shows that Mister and Missus Rockefeller's townhouse, located so far north that some real estate snobs and high-nosed social types would probably whisper and snicker, "It's practically in Harlem," as if that were a bad thing, stretches a desirable 25-feet wide and includes 4 bedrooms, 4 full and 3 half poopers. The townhouse stand five floors high plus a full basement where there is a large laundry room that has our ball busting house gurl Svetlana spitting with jealously. Also in the basement are a walk in wine vault, exercise room with convenient half pooper, 8 of the home's 19 closets, 2 utility rooms and 2 additional storage rooms.

It shouldn't take a brain surgeon or Your Mama's wise ass for the children to note that the Rockefeller's townhouse is, dare we say, exquisitely laid out. The carefully conceived program clearly, purposefully, and effectively delineates between the public, private, and service areas of the house. A short passage way beyond the front door leads to the garden level entrance gallery, a space both generous and and intimate, is worked over in brown, cream and gold colors and boldly announces the Rockefeller's somewhat idiosyncratic but high end taste in art and day-core and sets the decorative tone for the remainder of the house.

The ceiling is gold leafed, the walls are papered in a dizzying and intricate brown on white pattern–a pattern, it should be noted duplicated on the curtains that separate the entrance hall from the short corridor that leads to the kitchen and where the powder pooper is located–and a classically trendy (if past its prime) Tord Boontje light fixture hangs above a round table topped with a disturbing piece of pottery that looks like some sort of tumor covered creature and draped with a chocolate brown tablecloth with over-sized trim that puddles on the faux-stone patterned rug. To make the whole thing sing–or add insult to injury depending on one's decorative tastes–the entire room is reflected in a massive mirror with a squiggly gold leafed frame. This is not your blue-blooded grandma's townhouse, that's for sure.

The commodious kitchen at the back of the garden level, a somewhat surprisingly old-fashioned affair, has white shaker style cabinetry, rich, caramel colored hardwood floors, white marble and mahogany counter tops (or at least we think it's marble and mahogany), side by side refrigerators, two dishwashers, and giant Viking range. A small pantry, adjacent breakfast room with a glass roof and French doors that open to the wee backyard, and office area complete the kitchen.

The children will not that both a stair case and a dumb waiter connect the garden level kitchen to the parlor level butler's pantry that opens into the rather uniquely decorated dining room, a multi-patterned champagne and platinum colored extravaganza that might be nauseating if it weren't so odd and oddly intriguing. Seriously, who puts a tufted and pin-striped circular settee with some sort of banzai tree/sculpture thing on it right in the middle of the dining room? It's so strange that it's kind of brilliant particularly if you're more the cocktail party type rather than the dinner party for 20 type. At the front of the parlor floor, an almost equally perplexing formal living room is awash in a beige so pale it's nearly white and peppered with a set of shiny painted wood and rust colored velvet seats juxtaposed against a contemporary painting that looks like a child might have done it and a coffee table that looks like it's covered in tiny bits of mother of pearl. It probably isn't but that's what it looks like to Your Mama's rheumy eyes.

The funky, multi-patterned fabulosity continues in the third floor library where we find a couple of animal skulls laid up next to a thickly veined black and white marble fireplace surround, several dead animal heads that hang from the divinely glossy black paneled walls, and a myriad of fur pillows nestled into a gently curving and tufted seal colored divan. A couple of cow printed armchairs, a library ladder on which hand shapes perch atop the vertical rungs and a sensational lover's chaise with more of that over-sized trim first seen in the entrance gallery complete the tableau. The children will note that a half pooper is tucked up behind the elevator and at the back of the third floor a family room guest room claims a full, windowed pooper.

A study with a wall of built-ins shares the fourth floor with the master sure composed of a modestly sized bedroom that faces the quiet backside of the house, a five piece pooper with double sinks and separate tub and shower, and a walk-in closet so large it's has two dressing areas.

The top floor has two hall poopers and four rooms, two smallish but normal sized bedrooms, one punishingly small bedroom and one even tinier room labeled "play room" that opens to a terrace overlooking all the itty bitty backyards of the surrounding buildings. Listen chickens, Your Mama likes young children about as much as we like a damn root canal so ordinarily we could care less about their accommodations, but is still seems a little unfair to own an approximately 7,500 square foot townhouse spread over five floors and to relegate the kiddies to such vexatiously small bedrooms. Iffin this were our house, and it will never be our house for obvious and many reasons, we'd combine the rooms into two large bedrooms each with their own private pooper. Either that our turn them into suites with small sitting rooms/office areas and slightly larger bedrooms.

Your Mama imagines that the very social Renee and Mark Rockefellers will continue to claim a New York City residential address, but where we do not know. The comely couple obviously have a home in Idaho where they have substantial business interests and property records show that they also own a snazzy spread in Southampton, NY that they picked up in August of 2008 for $7,000,000. Wherever it is they land with their funky furniture and dizzying wallpaper, we can all be certain it will be pretty damn swank and far more expensive than anything most of the children (and Your Mama) could ever hope to afford.

photos: Sotheby's International Realty (townhouse); Ad Meskens (Kykuit)

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