PLACE: New York City, NY
SIZE: 5 bedrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Just as just about every property gossip with even a pinky toe in the New York City real estate waters had heard word, the sprawling simplex penthouse at 960 Fifth Avenue, owned for nearly 40 years by billionaire booze baron, international businessman and noted philanthropist Edgar M. Bronfman, has popped on the open market with a global publicity ensuring—and probably not entirely unrealistic—asking price of $65,000,000.*
That the much coveted, mini-mansion sized penthouse—Your Mama unscientifically calculated the interior square footage to be around 6,200—was not sold off market is what is most surprises to Your Mama. Iffin we were the betting type—and we're not—we'd have wagered both our long-bodied bitches, Linda and Beverly, and our mean ol' pussy, Sugar, there would have been a long line of hedge fund fat cats and other sick-rich international captains of industry who would have quickly and quietly snatched this sucker up in an off market deal in—well—a New York minute. But, alas. and anyways...
As of this morning digital listings we have access to do not include interior photographs. They do, lucky us, include a mouth watering floor plan that indicates there are 4-5 family bedrooms and five full and two half bathrooms. A duplexed staff wing behind the kitchen provides four cell-sized bedrooms and two shared bathrooms on a lower level and an upper level staff lounge that, sadly for the live-in staff, does double duty as the penthouse's laundry room. We also counted two wrap around terraces—one that has panoramic views up and down Fifth Avenue and across Central Park, five fireplaces, nine walk-in closets—ten if you count the walk-in safe, and more than 45 windows and French doors that all by themselves probably require a year-round part-time minimum wage worker to keep streak and grime free.
A private elevator landing opens to a slightly off-center foyer. The children will note the spacious, perfectly positioned powder room suite provides supreme pooper privacy, generous ventilation, and plenty of toiletry and linen storage in a pair of closets. Double doors open from the foyer into a capacious, 650-ish square foot living room with direct park views and terrace access through three sets of French doors. The adjacent, 500-ish square foot formal dining room also has terrace access and a direct view of Central Park as does the cozier-scaled library, located right off the foyer next door to the living room. An efficiently arranged kitchen and service wing includes a breakfast room, butler's pantry, roomy center island kitchen (with service entrance), and the aforementioned duplexed staff quarters.
A long, zig-zagged corridor extends east from the foyer—Your Mama estimates based on measurements shown on the floor plan it's nearly 80 feet long all together—and links the penthouse's public spaces to the south-facing bedroom wing where there are four roomy but hardly huge guest/family bedrooms, each with walk-in closet and private windowed bathroom.
The master suite, at the far, eastern end of the J-shaped apartment has an elegant entry vestibule, a corner bedroom with fireplace, two walk-in closets—one cedar lined, and a windowed bathroom with separate cubicle for the crapper and bidet. Although it does not appear to be directly accessible from the master bedroom, the floor plan shows a long and slender fitted dressing room with attached half bathroom that opens off the corridor.
960 Fifth Avenue, a 15-floor limestone-faced grande dame on the super-plum, northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and East 77th Street directly across from Central Park—was completed in the late 1920s and designed by vaunted architect Rosario Candela in association with Warren and Wetmore, the firm responsible for New York's spectacular Grand Central Terminal and the also stunning, Art Deco Helmsley Building that, literally, straddles Park Avenue between East 45th and East 46th Streets. There are certainly more expensive buildings in New York—take for example the ungodly expensive condo-complex 15 Central Park West—and (arguably) even more rarefied and restricted cooperative apartment houses—say, 820 Fifth Avenue or, maybe, 4 East 66th Street—but 960 Fifth Avenue is unquestionably one of Manhattan's finer addresses and quietly if confidently oozes limitless wealth and high-nosed status.
Not surprisingly, residents of 960 Fifth Avenue pay astronomical monthly cooperative fees. The common charges on Mister Bronfman Sr.'s penthouse are shown on current listings $19,093 per month. In addition to all the standard white glove services common to Fifth Avenue apartment houses—doormen, porters, elevator operators, etc—960 offers residence catered lunch and dining services through the Georgian Suite, a lavish private dining and entertainment space on the building's ground floor.
We don't profess to know the full provenance of the penthouse but we do know that before Mister Bronfman acquired it some forty years ago it was owned by a proudly portly woman named Particia Harmsworth, a.k.a. Viscountesse Rothermere, a British B-movie actress turned effervescently flamboyant and internationally beloved bon vivant who was more commonly known amongst the globe's jet setting elite as Bubbles. Bubbles, the widow of billionaire newspaperman Vere Rothermere, died of an accidental drug overdose during the summer of 1992 in a villa on the French Riviera that had once belonged to Greta Garbo.
Previous residents of the limestone edifice at 960 Fifth Avenue—also addressed 3 East 77th Street—include well-bred Brit Claus von Bülow, who owned a 16-room simplex on the 8th floor and sold it in the mid 1980s after he was acquitted of the murder of his wife, Sunny. Philanthropist Patricia Altschul unloaded her Maria Buatta-decorated one bedroom maisonette apartment—once the home of universally venerated upper class interior decorator Sister Parish—in Mach 2013 for $2,932,500 to a couple from Houston, TX.
In early February (2014) Cuban-born sugar baron José "Pepe" Fanjul paid $1.9 million in an off-market deal for a small apartment on a low floor and in July 2013 low-profile Peruvian billionaire financier Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor shelled out $21 million for a high floor duplex. The seller was Toy "R" Us founder Charles Lazarus.
Textile tycoon Loic De Kertanguy and his gal about town wife, Rebecca, coughed up $6,825,000 in August 2011 for their six-room residence, which they bought from the estate of thoroughbred breeder Edward P. Evans. Interestingly enough, Mister and Missus De Kertanguy already owned at south facing apartment on the 12th floor with two terraces at 960 Fifth Avenue that they sold concurrently in August 2011 for $4.6 million to none other than Charles Lazarus.
*Although news of the $65 million penthouse listing has made its way through a number of property gossip columns today, Your Mama actually first heard it first thing this morning via a couple of separate but equal digital missives thoughtfully sent by The Rabbi and Hot Chocolate. Presumably Mister Bronfman shared the penthouse with his fourth wife, artist Jan Aronson.
floor plan: Brown Harris Stevens