Today we take a wee turn from the glitzy, glossy and gift bag strewn world of Tinseltown celebs to the even more rigorous, restrictive and rarefied arena of New York City’s high nosed upper crust, a necessary if tightly wound and sometimes jagged cross section of stiff lipped blue bloods whose names still signify importance within their clannish social circle if not so much out of it, ambitious upstarts of both genders who sometimes marry well and divorce better, droves of foreign majesties and potentates, magnificently philanthropic tycoons, low-profile international industrialists by the dozens and, finally—the new dogs on the block—Wall Street royals of all types and stripes with freshly acquired but ever so vast—and sometimes much envied—fortunes.
One such lady who runs amongst the frothy cream of the globe’s most financially fortunate and —ahem—socially aristocratic is attorney and socialite Jo Hallingby who we respectfully decline to put into any of the above mentioned categories and who— Your Mama first learned through to the good work of our much appreciated but unpaid aide de camp Hot Chocolate—recently re-listed two of her posh East Coast properties with seven figure price tags.
In New York City Miz Hallingby has a sprawling, mid-floor apartment in what listing information describes as “one of Rosario Candela’s most celebrated white-glove prewar cooperatives” that she’s just re-listed with an $18,000,000 asking price and in Southampton (NY), the staunchest of the string of upscale communities that comprise the hoity-toity Hamptons, Miz Hallingby has an Old School Georgian style mansion on 3.2 very prime waterfront acres now listed at $23,000,000.
Miz Hallingby may very well be an attorney and uptown social force in her own right but her surname—and presumably a significant portion of her wealth—comes from her late husband, financier Paul Hallingby. Mister Hallingby, who was often referred to as a billionaire in the press, went to meet The Great Market Maker in the Sky in 2005 at the age of 85. Mister Hallingby is credited with helping with the development of The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. He was a director of the New York Stock Exchange and, for many years, was a well-compensated pooh-bah at the once venerable Bear Stearns—now absorbed into the JP Morgan Chase financial colossus—where he held the title of managing director emeritus at the time of his death.
Miz Hallingby may be the surviving widow of Mister Hallingby but she was not his first wife or his second wife or even his third. In fact, rakish Mr. Hallingby—that naughty naughty goat—had five previous wives, at least one of whom does not—if press accounts are to be believed—care much for the sixth and widowed Missus Hallingby.
Mai Hallingby—the fifth ex-Missus Hallingby who reportedly received “nearly $10 million” in her 1994 divorce—and Jo Hallingby went round and round in the courts for years over which of them is legally entitled to receive a $930 a month annuity check from Mister Hallingby’s estate. Imagine the legal bills incurred by these two women over a measly $930 per month annuity payment that neither of them probably needs in order to eat or keep the lights on. Let’s be honest, butter beans, these gals probably both spend more than $930 a month having Lin-Lin Sue come over and clip their toenails thrice a week.*
It might help to understand the bitter animosity and legal wrangling between the two women to know that Mister Hallingby (allegedly) met Sixth Missus Hallingby—that’s Jo—on the Hampton Jitney six months before he filed for divorce from Fifth Missus Hallingby—Mai—who says she only first heard of her own impending divorce when she read it in Aileen Mehle’s always deliciously dishy fashion and high society gossip column in Women’s Wear Daily. We don’t know if there’s any veracity to that or not but, you know, you can’t make stuff like this up!
Anyhoo, according to his obit in The New York Times, at the time of his death, in 2005, Mister and Sixth Missus Hallingby maintained three homes, a Sutton Place cooperative apartment, a house in Southampton and a getaway in the gated, expensive and very exclusive Lyford Cay community in the Bahamas where some of the other estate owners include or once included high fallutin’ folks like Prince Ranier III of Monaco, American automobile heir and car industry executive Henry Ford II, Greek shipping honcho Stavros Niarchos and Greek shipping magnates George S. and George P. Livanos, Oscar-winning Scottish actor Sean Connery and American billionaire hedge fund tycoon Louis Bacon.
We know nothing of the Hallingby’s Lyford Cay crib but we do know that this isn’t the first time Miz Hallingby has attempted to sell her sizable Sutton Place spread that has a sweeping and unimpeded view of the 59th Street Bridge, the East River and the south end of Roosevelt Island where the lush but sober Louis Kahn-designed monument to Franklin Delano Roosevelt now sprawls over the tip.
Miz Hallingby first listed the 13-room apartment in September 2010 with a $14,500,000 asking price. The river fronting apartment was taken off the open market in early 2011 only to return nearly a year later, in January 2012, with a slightly higher $15,000,000 price tag. Then, just the other day, Miz Hallingby engaged the services of a second real estate agent who specializes in the New York City residences of the very rich and re-listed her apartment with an inexplicably and remarkably more plump $18,000,000 price tag. If nobody wants it for fifteen million, then maybe someone will want it for eighteen, right? Stranger things have happened.
Current listing information shows the mini-mansion sized apartment has 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms. However, those figures are a bit misleading when you compare them against the floor plan included with marketing materials. The floor plan shows three principle bedrooms—two guest/family bedrooms that share a Jack-and-Jill bathroom and a spacious master suite with fireplaced bedroom, separate sitting room, numerous walk-in closets, a pair of dressing rooms and two bathrooms—plus an extensive staff wing with three more prison cell-sized bedrooms that share a single hall bathroom. The floor plan indicates one of the staff bedrooms is or could be used as an office and another as a home gym. Whatever the case there are—in current configuration—three family bedrooms and 1-3 staff bedrooms for at total of 3-7 bedrooms depending on use. A windowless half bathroom off the 33-plus foot long entrance gallery brings the potty count to four point five.
The apartment has a magnificent 56-plus sweep of river frontage from one end of the living room to the far end of the library, 32 windows on four sides, three fireplaces, four Juliet balconies, and at least 15 closets—many of them walk-ins. There are formal living and dining rooms, a library, a butler’s pantry and a spacious center island kitchen with walk-in pantry almost as large as the staff bedrooms. Just off the kitchen is a family/breakfast room and the laundry facilities that are tucked into a short corridor that connects the family areas from the staff and service wing. Current listing information shows the monthly maintenance fees run $12,995 per month.
The day-core is decidedly elegant and opulent with rich Parquet de Versailles style hardwood floors, heavy duty moldings, yard after yard of painstakingly swagged and prodigiously passamenteried curtain treatments, jewel-toned brocade covered sofas and gilt-trimmed 18th century French boiserie in the living room, gilded accents and Chinoiserie style wall coverings in the dining room and purposefully mismatched fabrics in the paneled library where at least one built-in set of shelves is filled to the gills with tiny figurines.**
Past residents of Miz Hallingby’s storied and hallowed pre-war building include actress Sigourney Weaver, iconic designer Bill Blass, publishing pasha John Fairchild, socialites Winston and C.Z. Guest and gem collecting philanthropist Janet Annenberg Hooker.
While she’s somewhat inexplicably raised the asking price on her Sutton Place apartment Miz Hallingby has much more sensibly slashed the asking price for her Old School-stately 3.17 acre estate in Southampton (NY) from its original asking price of $26,500,000 to its new and improved $23,000,000.
Property records aren’t entirely clear on when Mister Hallingby purchased the Southampton spread with its approximately 300 feet of Shinnecock Bay frontage but there is some evidence it may have been as long ago as 1960. It was certainly previous to 1994 when records show it was held jointly by Mister Hallingby and his fifth ex-wife, Mai. The property was retained by Mister Hallingby and the deed last passed in early 2010 when the property became wholly owned by Jo Ann Davis Hallingby.
Current listing information shows the two-story white brick Colonial measures about 6,500 square feet with a total of six bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms and is perfectly dressed for its genteel seaside locale with striped window awnings and black shutters that in a perfect world are actually operable.
The center hall house has a marble floored foyer, front and back staircases, a formal dining room and a sunny formal living room with windows on three sides, a fireplace with delicate carved stone mantelpiece, buttercup yellow walls, matching buttercup yellow curtains and a lumpy, lattice-pattern rug that Your Mama would bet both our long bodied bitches, Linda and Beverly, surely stymies foot shufflers and tipsy cocktailers. There’s also a “chef’s kitchen,” according to listing information, and and a mint-condition conservatory/sun room that looks like it was ripped right out of the pages of Better Homes & Gardens in 1974.
For sleeping, dressing, fighting and fornicating in private there are two master suites, according to listing information, a third bedroom guest suite and a separate two-bedroom guest suite—plus a staff suite for a total of six.
An essentially but not exactly octagonal porch-cabana extends somewhat wart-like off the rear of the residence and offers direct access and views of the forty foot long and perfectly turquoise swimming pool. The porch-cabana is on point in Old School style with the most amazing wicker and bamboo furniture—those fan back things are so Marisa Berenson we can’t even stand it—all of which is painted summertime white and some of which is custom fitted with crisp, white-piped azure-colored cushions.
At the front of the house a long and gated gravel drive swoops around to a charity party accommodating circular drive and at the rear a broad, flat lawn stretches away from the house down to the pond’s edge where there is a deep water dock, according to listing information.
It was Miz Hallingby’s house in Southampton where, in February 2011, thieves broke in and pinched “a dozen paintings worth $250,000,” according to press accounts, including works by Jean Dufy, Frederick H. McDuff, Jacques Martin-Ferrieres, Pierre Bittar and Howard Behrens, a man sometimes called, according to his own website, “The Monet of the 21st Century.” We’re not sure if any of the artworks were recovered.
One of the other of many high net worth homeowners on Miz Hallingby’s dead end lane in Southampton include lavish livin’ hedge hog Larry Robbins who also owns a major estate in Alpine, NJ where he reportedly plans to spend around $10 million to build an approximately 16,000 square foot structure to house a ice hockey rink. Also on the block is lady hedge hogger Karen Fleiss who famously had her Fifth Avenue duplex of staggering proportions on the market in mid-2008 with an optimistically engorged $47,500,000 asking price.***
*Use them noggins, children. We have no idea if either Miz Hallingby pays someone stereotypically named Lin-Lin Sue or any one else to clip their toe nails on either a frequent or infrequent basis.
**Miz Hallingby reportedly collects 19th century Meissen figurines, the pre-cursors—if you will—to those too-cutesy Precious Moments figurines widely (and disturbingly) collected by those folks who adore a wee figurine but lack a certain monetary prowess.
**Miz Fleiss, bless her bajillionaire heart, failed to sell her 8 bedroom, two unit duplex on Fifth Avenue as a single unit even after the price plunged to $34,500,000. In late 2008 Miz Fleiss and her orthopedic surgeon husband opted to take the duplex off the market and re-listed just the lower level with an in-hindsight still rose-tinted $15,000,000 asking price. The price fell steadily to $9,950,000 before it was purchased in January 2010 for $8,898,000 by fellow hedge hog Richard Duke Buchan III who, incidentally, gut renovated the full-floor apartment and has had it on the market since January 2012 at a variety of asking prices that started at $22,000,000, dipped to $17,500,000 and climbed back up to its current and familiar price tag of $22,000,000. Such are the wild and wacky real estate ways of the super rich.
exterior photo (New York City): Nicholas Strini for Property Shark
interior listing photos (New York City): Sotheby’s International Realty
listing photos (Southampton): Sotheby’s International Realty