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Rock It Like A Rockefeller


SELLER: Your Mama does not know actually, do you?
PRICE: $27,500,000 ($8,620.88/month maintenance)
LOCATION: 810 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
SIZE: 2 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Originally Nelson Rockefeller’s apartment, this property features a 47′ living room with remarkable Park views, West and South. Large formal dining room and library with full bath. Currently the apartment is configured as a 2 bedroom master suite with a double staff room and family room. Could be converted back to a 4 bedroom + library.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Thanks to a little birdie we’ll call The Viking, Your Mama has learned that a little piece of New York real estate history has hit the market with a $27,500,000 price tag for what amounts to a large and well located one bedroom apartment overlooking Central Park in a not quite a-list building on Fifth Avenue. The full floor co-operative apartment on the 12th floor of 810 Fifth Avenue has a storied history, so bear with Your Mama as we educate all the children who don’t study historical high society real estate deals in New York City.

From the mid-1930s through the early 1960s, oil heir Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, who went on to become Governor of New York State and later Vice President of the U-nited States, and his first wifey Mary Todhunter Clark Rockefeller owned and occupied a tremendous triplex penthouse riding atop 810 Fifth Avenue. The young and really rich Rockefellers hired modern architect Wallace Harrison to design their gargantuan aerie and they paid Parisian decorator du jour Jean-Michel Frank to do up the day-core of some of the 30 rooms. The Rockefeller penthouse was reportedly filled to the brim with cutting-edge furniture and fiercely contemporary artworks by folks like Fernand Leger, Henri Matisse, and Hans Arp as well as gilded consoles by Giacometti, loads of Louis XV-style furniture, and acres of candy colored carpets, which certainly sounds, uhm, colorful.

In 1962, after pushing out and raising up 5 children, the couple went splitsville and the Missus took the top two floors and the Mister kept the entire 12th floor for himself. A very short time later, Mister Rockefeller found and married another ladee named Margaretta Fitler Murphy, but everyone just called her Happy. After the big nuptials, Mister Rockefeller and his new wifey purchased another full floor co-op in the neighboring building at 812 Fifth Avenue which they combined with the former triplex’s 12th floor of 810 Fifth which provided the couple and the two children they would have with nearly 12,000 square feet of Fifth Avenue fabulosity. The floors of the two units were not at the same height so a half staircase had to be installed to connect the combined units. The stairs were located behind what is now a bookcase in the library at 810 (see plan here.)

Because the first Mrs. Rockefeller lived upstairs, and perhaps to selfishly spare him any unnecessary drama, Mister Rockefeller reconfigured his combined units at 810 and 812 so that he and Happy could enter through 812 Fifth while First Wifey continued to use the entrance at 810, thus eliminating any chance encounters or a possible fracas between the two well married women as they waited for the lift with its white gloved operator.

The fixer upper duples with 17 rooms (some reports say 12 rooms), 6 bedrooms, and a 1,200 square foot wrap terrace was eventually sold to healthcare honcho John Foster who famously sold it on to music mogul David Geffen for $31,500,000 after the fussy co-op board–which at the time included socialite Jan Cowles and philanthropist Elizabeth Rohatyn, wife of financier and former Ambassador to France Felix Rohatyn–dragged their feet but eventually gave the West Coast based billionaire the gilded and difficult to come by stamp of approval.

Then, of course, as anyone who follows New York real estate knows, the fickle and obscenely rich Mister Geffen turned around and quietly put the duplex back on the market without ever moving in or making any alterations to the duplex. Property records (and multiple reports at the time) reveal that the duplex was quickly purchased by the Blackstone Group’s Pete Peterson for $37,500,000, a man whose alliterative name Your Mama delights in and approves of highly, natch.

Anyhoo, let’s get back to the full floor unit on the 12th floor of 810 Fifth Avenue. At some point, and Your Mama confesses we don’t know when, Nelson and Happy sold their combined units which were incorporated back into their respective buildings as single units. It is the lowest floor of the original Rockefeller triplex at 810 that is currently available to purchase by any rich, well connected individual able to finesse, charm and woo their way into the hearts of the co-op board.

Although the full floor units at 810 Fifth were originally configured with 4 bedrooms, 4 bathroms, a library, and 4 itty bitty staff rooms flanking a servant’s hall, the current layout of the 12th floor features nearly 48 feet of paneled living room overlooking Central Park with two fireplaces, a wet bar, and some seriously tired and uninspired day-core. To the east sits a good sized but unfortunately Peptol Bismol pink dining room, and to the north, a paneled library with an attached guest bathroom and a kitchen adequately sized for Lucinda the staff gurl to comfortably whip up poached eggs and blinis.

The mammoth master suite consists of two large rooms. Presumably one is meant to be a bedroom and the other a private office, sitting room or a boudoir. Don’t y’all just love that word? Boudoir…boo-dwar. It’s boo-lovely rolling across the lips. Anyhoo, the two rooms are separated by twin walk in closets, dual dressing rooms and a master bath with his and her terlits and bidets. Now how elegant is that that in this co-op the owners need not wash their private parts on the same bidet?

Interestingly, the staff suite is joined to the master bedroom through a walk in closet. Your Mama assumes this back door bizness is so that good ol’ Lucinda can discreetly slip into the boo-dwar (or whatever that room is) and leave the ladee of the house her morning mood pills and the man of the house his before bed bourban without disturbing them as they dress, poop, and/or fornicate in other areas of the multi-room master suite.

There is an additional bedroom in the apartment which is really part of the staff suite and not suitable for the sort of high-fallutin’ guests that are likely to be dragging in and out of an apartment like this in their Valentino gowns dripping in doo-dads from Van Cleef & Arpels. In addition to a private bath and bedroom, the staff suite also has what is called on the floor plan a laundry slash family room. Now does anyone really see the owner of this apartment settling into a long night of reality television in the same room where Lucinda launders the sheets and hand washes the under garments? No children, Your Mama does not see that happening either.

Clearly, the apartment’s day-core is in dire need an update at the least and more likely the new owners will have to give the place a total overhaul directed by one of the better nice gay decorators who ply their trade in the rarefied air and better addresses along Fifth and Park Avenues. This particular brand of high-klass interiors are not Your Mama’s forté, however, we’re just certain our good pal The Social Butterfly can hook the new owner up with a well preserved and impeccably mannered gentleman decorator who for a large fee would be more than happy to squire the new owner(s) of this apartment around to all the better shops and showrooms in Paris.

Former residents of 810 Fifth include William Randolph Hearst Jr. and the notorious and much maligned Richard Nixon. In addition to the aforementioned Rohatyns and Jan Cowles, other current residents of the building are believed to include board president Eric Sheinberg (former partner at Goldman Sachs), art patron Maureen Cogan, former Archer Daniels CEO Dwayne Andreas, and records indicate the building’s newest super rich resident is Lazard Frere’s William von Mueffling who forked over $25,000,000 for the 10th floor apartment in July of 2007.

Here’s the question for all you New York old money types, arrivistes and also for all the service class that cater to the well to do along Fifth Avenue…who currently owns this place? Unfortunately that is a name we’ve yet to be able to ferret out. Email Your Mama with your dirt.

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