YOUR MAMAS NOTES: There really is no place Your Mama loves more than Paris on the early side of spring when the skies sometimes stay gray all day, the streets glisten with damp and dew, the still bare trees bristle and snap against the stiff wind, and the heaps and hordes of summertime tourists have yet to arrive en masse to clutter up the cafés of the Marais and all the art loving hipsters make it nearly impossible to navigate through the uh-may-zing Palais de Tokyo.
So let’s go there butter beans–at least in our little booze addled brains–to Paris, where thanks to mon frère Fabian Francophile we’ve learned that scandalized American financier John Gutfreund and his happy hostess and homemaker wife Susan recently heaved their palatial and posh pad in Paris’s wealthy and elegant 7th arrondissement onto the open market with an undisclosed asking price.
The 7th arrondisement, on Paris’s ritzy Rive Gauche, is home to numerous French treasures and tourist traps such as the Eiffel Tower, the Hôtel des Invalides where Napoléon Bonaparte’s body is interred, and the Musée d’Orsay, housed in a monolithic and bee-yooteeful Beaux-Arts building that was once a train station but is now filled to the brim with impressionist and post-impressionists works by name-brand artists such as Manet, Monet, Seurat, Cézanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh.
The nabobish neighborhood positively drips with history of all types: The 18th-century Hôtel Biron at 79 Rue de Varenne once housed the studio of artist Auguste Rodin–he of The Thinker–and is now a museum dedicated to the sculptor; World renown psychiatrist Jacques Lacan practiced his Freudian informed and later distinctly Lacanian psychic voodoo at 5 Rue de Lille; Beloved and iconic singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg–that would be Charlotte’s daddy–lived and died at the graffiti covered 5 Rue de Verneuil; And le Bon Marché, one of the world’s first and most famous department stores, is located in the seventh at 38 Rue de Sèvres.
The 7th arrondissement is also home to the Carré Rive Gauche, an exclusive collection of art and antiques dealers who adhere to a strict standard of quality and sell high priced settees, commodes and Louis the whatever this and thats to ridiculously rich folks who prefer and can afford an opulent, costly and distinctly French style of day-core. One of these lovers of fine French antiques who has surely spent hundreds upon hundreds of thousand of bucks buying frou-frou French antiques in the 7th arrondissement is, getting back to our real estate story, Missus Susan Gutfreund.
John Gutfreund, Susan’s much older huzband, was once a major mover and shaker on Wall Street where he served as CEO of the once venerable investment bank Salomon Brothers, now part of Citigroup. Mister Gutfreund, at one time one of the most powerful men in the cliquish and clackash world of Wall Street, was ousted from Salomon Brothers in 1991 after a scandal involving Treasury bonds rocked the brokerage firm. The details of the icky bizness don’t really matter, puppies, but if you’re interested y’all can read all about Mister G. and the ugly controversy in the books Liar’s Poker and Nightmare on Wall Street. Suffice to say, the Treasury bond brouhaha resulted in an unprecedented $290,000,000 fine to Salomon Brothers itself and a $100,000 fine levied on Mister Gutfreund who was subsequently pushed from his position of Herculean hegemony and forbidden from running another brokerage firm for the rest of his life.
Before the hubub and hullabaloo that brought both Salomon Brothers and John Gutfreund down to their bespoke suit covered knees, the Gutfreunds were legendary for exemplifying and worshiping at the altar of the vulgar financial exhibitionism that defined the new money set in the 1980s. Missus Gutfreund, a former blond bombshell and trolley dolly for Pan Am Airlines, married Mister Gutfreund in 1981 and took to her new life of leisure and excess just like she was to the manor born. Her profligate 1980s ways are the still stuff of legend among a certain crowd of gawkers, squawkers, and cocktail party flibbertigibbets in New York City and beyond.
Upon marrying her gift horse, Missus Gutfreund set a new standard for lavish living and over the top entertaining. The newly cultured hostess with the mostess, who once was quoted as saying, “It’s just so expensive to be rich,” or something equally pompous and unnerving like that, customarily had invitations to her teas, lunches, dinner parties and charity events hand delivered by her chauffeur. Apparently, standard mail or courier service was simply not impressive enough.
Buckle your seat belts bunnies because Your Mama is only getting started cataloging the Gutfruends eye poppin’ and jaw droppin’ lifestyle.
Missus Gutfreund, a ladee who clearly knows how to spend hundred dollar bills like they were dimes, once rented a crane in order to hoist a towering, 22-foot tall Christmas tree into the couple’s double height living room at the supremely snobby–but no longer fashionable–River House, home of power players like Henry Kissinger and actress/socialite Dina Merrill, daughter of Post cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and Edward Francis Hutton, better known as E.F. Hutton. The Gutfruends decamped from the River House to one of the best building on Fifth Avenue, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Other fun and insanity inducing extravagances of Missus Gutfreund have been reported to include a refrigeration system installed in the bathroom of her New York City apartment to keep her preposterously pricey eau de toilettes properly chilled. She also, according to rumor and report, spent a million dollars or more to renovate the garage of her Paris apartment, a renovation that allegedly included installing a private car wash. It has also been widely snickered and guffawed about that the big livin’ ladee once purchased a seat on the Concorde for a birthday cake that she was flying over from New York to Paris. In all fairness, Miz Gutfreund was once asked about this alleged international cake carrying event by a couple of gals from the always entertaining and informative New York Social Diary back in May of 2008 and she answered, “Yes, I was flying a cake covered in tiny [sugar] violets and I was flying it to Paris for a girlfriend for her birthday. The second seat was for my son but because I had two tickets, they wrote that it was for the cake. It [the cake] sat on my lap for four hours…” There you have it, children, right from the horse’s mouth. Make of the cake story what you will.
In more recent years Missus Gutfreund has shifted gears from her storied role as a deep pocketed consumer of, well, everything, and has reinvented herself as a ladee decorator, one that no doubt specializes in an elaborate style of day-core that revolves around buying an ocean liner full of French antiques.
Your Mama has no idea way of verifying through property records how long Mister and Missus Gutfreund have owned their plush Parisian apartment, but according to the New York Social Diary it’s about 25 years and we certainly have to reason to doubt that particular chronicler of the international jet set since he has himself been inside the Gutfruend’s Parisian pied a terre. Although the exact asking price for the apartment is not disclosed on the listing it does indicate the very proper apartment is priced at more than €5,000,000. Based on the high prices of Parisian real estate, particularly in the uppity 7th arrondissement, Your Mama would bet our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly and our mean ol‘ pussy Sugar that the price is much, much, much higher than five-million measly Euros because, let’s be real here pork chops, Missus Gutfreund doesn’t do the lower end of the high end.
(UPDATE: A Parisian informant whispered in Your Mama’s ear that the asking price is approximately €15,000,000, but we have not verified that figure, we’re simply passing it along as rumor and gossip at this point.)
Listing information indicates the apartment, which occupies a portion of an hôtel particular called the Hôtel d’Orrouer located just off the swank Boulevard Saint-Germain, measures 506 square meters spread over 4 levels. A quick consult with our measurement muh-sheen tells Your Mama that’s a large but not exactly huge 5,446 square feet. The apartment features a ballroom sized entrance hall with a black and white marble floor and a swooping staircase that looks about as wide as a damn Cadillac Escalade is long. Fortunately the apartment is blessed with a private elevator because no doyenne of high society–and that includes the couture clad ladee of the house–wants to be caught dead having sweated up the armpits of a $100,000 haute couture Chanel suit from climbing up the Gutfreund’s Mount Everest of a staircase.
Listing information also indicates the Gutfreunds classy crib contains a 60 square meter basement–that’s 645 square feet according to our measurement muh-sheen–where the apartment’s cellar, laundry facilities and “technical premises” are located. The basement may be where Missus Gutfreunds alleged multi-million dollar garage and car wash is located, but since Your Mama don’t know a dog bone from a shovel we don’t recommend any of the children go around telling anyone that the Gutfreund’s car wash is in the basement.
Anyhoo, it’s a bit tough for Your Mama to make heads or tales of the listing information’s broken English–contrary to popular thought Your Mama don’t parlez the Français–but as best as we can surmise from the text and photographs the apartment includes a vast salon with a fireplace and Parquet de Versailles floors, a dining room, an oddly shaped all stainless steel eat in kitchen, a library, an office, and at least a couple other smaller sitting rooms all studiously stuffed with antique French chairs, mirrors, armoires, consoles, ormolu urns and other freakishly expensive Francophilian tchotchkes.
It’s unclear how many bedrooms and poopers are present in Mister and Missus Gutfreund’s Parisan pied a terre but we were able to sort out that the master suite encompasses a bedroom, a boo-dwar, a dressing room or two, and 2 poopers. That would be one for him and one for her because people this rich do not even want to know that their spouse flosses or poops let alone tolerate the indignity of having to endure the hair raising aroma of a bodily function of any kind.
We confess that we really know little and understand less about the intricacies and delicacies of French antiques and the sort of classical, old-school day-core these things are usually fitted into. So we can’t really speak to the quality of the Gutfruend’s day-core until we get us some edumuhcation on that subject. However, we have no doubt it’s all of serious quality and what we can see of the public rooms with our own beady little eyes they are beautifully proportioned with enviably high ceilings and the are exquisitely detailed with delicate antique boiserie.
According to the fluffy and campy book The Fortune Hunters, Mister and Missus Gutreund share–or shared–their hôtel particular in Paris with none other than French high fashion genius Hubert de Givenchy. It’s unclear to Your Mama if Monsieur Givenchy still occupies an apartment at the Hôtel d’Orrouer.
Since we do not currently know–or expect to know–Missus Gutfreund or her aged hubby, we can’t confirm or fathom why they would choose to liquidate their prime piece of Parisian real estate. Perhaps it’s that the Mister is getting up there in years and it’s high time the bi-continent couple settle down into one place? Or, although doubtful, maybe they’ve decided that this big ol‘ apartment is more than they require for a Parisian pied a terre? Possibly they’re moving on to something even more grand, say a boo-teek hotel sized hôtel particular all their own? Whatever the reason, just the thought of the massive undertaking to pack up all this frippery, finery and fah–fah–fah French stuff that is undoubtedly and collectively worth more money than Your Mama will ever see in a lifetime has us breaking out in a case of The Hives.
At one point Mister and Missus Gutfruend had a country place in Pennsylvania–we’re not sure if they still own that spread or not–and, natch, they also maintain a scrupulously refined New York City residence in a top Fifth Avenue building that was expensively and very thoroughly did up and done over by the now dead but still immortalized French master decorator Henri Samuel. The Gutfreund’s gargantuan 16 room doo–plex digs, which some real estate nuts say measures upwards of 10,000 square feet, includes an exquisitely detailed–if far too fussy for our taste–winter garden with views of Central Park, a ladees‘ sitting room (whatever that is), a first floor guest room drowning in chintz, hand painted door panels, a kitchen pantry full of high quality porcelain dish sets organized by someone who clearly suffers from the OCD, and curtains in the dining room created in part from fabric gifted to Missus Gutfreund by Her Fashioneesta Eminence, queen Karl Lagerfeld herself.
A little too much time spent cruising around the interweb and Your Mama came up with an interesting if not complete list of the other well-heeled residents of Mister and Missus Gutfreund’s über exclusive and customarily clubby Rosario Candela designed building include:
• Damon Mezzacappa–a financier and ex-Lazard Frere vice-chairman–and his social wife Liz who also own a compound on Halsey Neck Lane in Southampton as well as a Palm Beach pile with a total square footage, according to the tax man, of 22,164 and an annual tax bill of nearly $300,000. Their Palm Beach neighbors include the likes of Rod Stewart, Netscape founder James Clarke, and hair care tycoon Sydell Miller.
• Bing’s son Harry “Bill” Crosby, an erstwhile ack-tor (Friday the 13th) turned investment banker, occupies one of the building’s three maisonette units. The other two maisonettes are owned by art dealer Jan Abrams and big time art collectors Dave and Reba Williams.
• Stephen Swid, CEO of SESAC, a major performing rights company, and his wife Nan
• Judith and Alfred Taubman, the mall magnate and former owner of British auction house Sotheby’s who spent some 9 and some months in the pokey back in 2002 and 2003 over a conviction of price fixing, a charge he flatly denies. As the story goes, Mister Taubman’s drug dealer cell mate would repeatedly wake the white collar convict up in middle of the night and urge the billionaire to adopt him. As far as Your Mama knows, that did not happen.
• Leslie “Les” Wexner, owner of the Limited Brands (Victoria’s Secret, Henri Bendel, C.O. Bigelow, Bath & Body Works, and etc.) whose 16-room Thierry Despont designed doo–plex was reported in early 2009 to be quietly available for around $60,000,000. The Ohio based billionaire and his wife recently bought a much more modest pied a terre at 15 Central Park West.
• Octogenarian philanthropist, socialite and haute couture queen Carroll McDaniel Portago Carey-Hughes Pistell Petrie who derives much of her money from a significant stake that her last and now dead huzband Milton made in Toys ‘R Us. She, reportedly, lives in a spread designed by banking heiress Pauline Pitt who is, for all the children not up on the intricacies of the the New York social scene, the mother of high flying New York City real estate agent Serena Boardman. Miss Boardman, who hangs her license at Sotheby’s, natch, is whispered and reported to be the gal to call if you’re interested in LesWexner’s $60,000,000 doo–plex.
• Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng who paid a staggering $44,000,000 for the 20-room triplex penthouse formerly owned by Laurence Rockefeller.
• Greek shipping billionaire George Livanos and his wife Lita who moved from one of the building’s three maisonette’s to their current doo–plex digs on a couple of the lower floors.
• Broadway honcho Harold “Hal” Prince, who is giving up his spread at 834 Fifth Avenue for an East 754th Street townhouse he purchased in late 2009 for $12,500,000. Mister Prince’s doo–plex, which has 3 bedrooms, 2 staff rooms, a total of 5.5 poopers and 4 terraces, is currently listed for sale with an asking price of $29,500,000
• Robert “Woody” Johnson, father of recently deceased and deeply troubled socialite Casey Johnson, and his brother Christopher Johnson own adjacent units.
• Financier Mark Rachesky and his wife Jill paid a fever inducing $33,444,500 for a 9th and 10th floor doo–plex in late 2007 sold by Loida Lewis, the widow of billionaire Reginald Lewis. The Lewis’s bought their apartment in 1992 from disgraced car creator John De Lorean. Mister Lewis, and African-American, and Miz Lewis, a Filipino born ladee, are widely believed to be the first people of color to own an apartment in a top building on Fifth Avenue. And good for them. It’s just shocking and upsetting it took until 1990 damn 2 for that to happen. Coincidentally–or not–Mister and Missus Rachesky own an ocean front spread on Southampton’s swanky Gin Lane that’s right up next door to a 7 bedroom and 10 pooper property owned by Al and Judy Taubman.
• Philanthropist Laurie Tisch who dumped $29,000,000 in March of 2009 for a 13-room apartment with 2 bedrooms, 4 fireplaces, and an 18th-century George II pine paneled library. The 13th floor co-operative unit was sold by the estate of Araxia M. Buckhantz, the cuzzin of eccentric oil tycoon Nubar Gulbenkian.
• (UPDATE: April 8, 2010) San Francisco based Charles and Helen Schwab who owned two pieces of 834 Fifth Avenue. The Schwabs paid $27,700,000 for a big ass spread on the 9th floor in 2007 that was–are y’all sitting down–listed at just $16,500,000. Mister Schwab also owned an itty bitty penthouse on the 15th floor–which sits adjacent to a portion of Rupert Murdoch’s triplex penthouse. He and the wife quietly floated the penthouse the market in the fall of 2009 with an asking price around $14,000,000 and in April of 2010 they off-loaded the aerie for $12,500,000 to Miriam Haas, the San Francisco based heiress to the Levi-Strauss denim empire.
Now that we’ve wondered almost completely off topic, let’s wrap this up so Your Mama can mix up our first pitcher of early afternoon gin & tonics. We suggest you do the same.
source: Emile Garcin Properties