Phillip Johnson Manhattan Pied a Terre


SELLER: Estate of Philip Johnson
LOCATION: 15 West 53rd Street, Apartment 11G, Museum Tower, New York City
PRICE: $2,500,000 (maintenance and taxes / $2,760 per month
SIZE: 1,427 square feet, 1 bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: (greatly reduced from the listing agent’s website) Mr. Johnson…designed a glamorous coffered ceiling in the living room which overlooks the famed MOMA Sculpture Garden that Mr. Johnson designed in 1964. The apartment also looks toward the pink granite AT&T building (he) designed in 1984…Mr. Johnson chose this apartment as his own for these special views. One of the most unique features of the apartment is the powder room which features Andy Warhol “cow wallpaper” with an original Warhol signature.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: The Cesar Pelli designed Museum Tower building may not be one of the more “exclusive” buildings in Manhattan such as those that line Fifth and Park Avenues, but it does occupy some choice Midtown real estate and is a fantastic location for a contemporary art lovers pied a terre. As reported by celebrity real estate journalist extraordinaire Braden Keil from the NY Post, the “glamorous apartment of legendary architect Philip Johnson” has come up for sale.

This apartment was shared and used as a pied a terre by the Pritzker Prize winning Johnson and his longtime companion David Whitney. Although the Mister Johnson was 33 years older than Whitney, both men passed in 2005. As many architecture aficionados know, Johnson was a student of Mies van der Rohe, and is most notably known for his “Glass House” up in New Canaan, Connecticut.

The Glass House, along with the entire Johnson/Whitney estate, is now a part of the National Trust Historic Sites. This estate functioned much like an architecture and inspiration laboratory for Mister Johnson and over the years many accessory buildings were built in addition to the Glass House. These buildings include, but are not limited to, an underground painting gallery, The Lake Pavillion, and the Ghost House. Your Mama hopes to visit this heavily protected site sometime soon as it marked a revolution and turning point in the conception, construction and the very idea of what constituted living space.

Ordinarily we act sassy and say quasi-mean things about some of the houses we discuss here, but Your Mama is feeling more reverent than mouthy about this one. Sure, the custom coffered ceiling in the living room does not suit our taste and the dining area feels a bit sterile to us (at least in the photo) , but we just can’t muster the moxie to challenge the choices of these two men down with such finely honed aesthetic senses.

After all, these men were both mavericks of the arty sort, and Your Mama just loves that type. The Mister Whitney was an inveterate contemporary art collector and curator. He also participated in the 1960s Warhol scene in New York. He became so friendly with the Mister Warhol they used to joke about getting married. This probably explains how it is the bewigged Mister Warhol came to be signing the wallpaper in the powder room.

The Mister Johnson designed many important and notable buildings throughout his long, long career including the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA, Penzoil Place in Houston, the de Menil House, the first modernist home in Houston and was basically working until his death on the Urban Glass House in Manhattan.

Over the years plenty of rich and New York famous have lived in this building. Property records show two of the three penthouses in this building are currently owned by well known financial titans. One belongs to big time Republican donor Jerry Perenchio, the billionaire media mogul who owns Univision. He also happens to own the tremendous Bel Air estate on Bel Air Road that was used as the set for the movie The Beverly Hillbillies and is located across the street from this $17,500,000 property.

Another of the penthouses belongs to the somewhat infamous Carl Icahn who made a fortune in junk bonks with Michael Milkin in the 1980s and in addition to many, many other major holdings currently owns about 3.3% of Time Warner Cable that is worth billions.

Even a pedigreed one bedroom is a tough sell at $2,500,000 so we do wish the listing agents all the best in selling this apartment at this price.

Sources: NY Post, National Trust, Wickipedia

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