SELLER: Thierry Mugler
LOCATION: New York City, NY
SIZE: 4,100 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: In 2003, amid crushing financial losses and with much boo-hooing by the stiletto-clad fashion elite, gleefully unconventional French couturier Thierry Mugler closed his eponymous label and all but disappeared from the public eye. More accurately, the Clarins company, who owned the brand since 1994, shuttered the operation. Anyhoo, the French phoenix not only emerged four or five years later with a long list of new fashion world ventures but utterly and disarmingly transformed into 240 titanic pounds of pierced, tatted, plastic surgified and muscle bound (senior citizen) beefcake.
Despite the loss of control of his professional baby and his essential evaporation from the dernier cri fashion scene, Paris-based Monsieur Mugler had the inclination and dough-re-mi to acquire and maintain a penthouse pied-a-terre in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood that property records reveal he bought in July 2004 for $4,500,000. Monsieur Mugler recently if not very quietly listed his luxurious and sparely dressed Big Apple crash pad with an haute asking price of $7,995,000.
An April 2010 article in The Old Grey Lady revealed the vexatiously vainglorious Monsieur Mugler only makes use of the spacious, high maintenance New York City duplex penthouse about two months of the year. That’s a colossally costly two months when one considers whatever mortgage payments Monsieur may (or may not) be responsible for and the $7,555 per month—$90,660 annual—in property taxes and common charges not to mention the must-be-considerable expense of maintaining the fully decked and landscaped roof terrace partially shaded, the children will note, by an impressively mature pine tree.
Listing information shows the duplex penthouse, “perched atop a prime Chelsea prewar building,” was originally designed as two separate (but now fully integrated) apartments that together span around 4,100 square feet with two bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and open city views to the south and west.
An intimate vestibule—with well-placed if windowless powder pooper—acts as a welcomed buffer between the front door that opens into the building’s public hall and the lofty apartment’s entrance gallery done up in de rigueur impress-the-guests glam with a gold-leafed ceiling and a couple of rather forbidding sculptures of humpback javelinas, hoofed hyenas or some other phantasmagorical creature Your Mama decidedly does not much fancy coming across in the woozy dark of a boozy late night.
The 500-plus square foot corner living/dining room, minimally done up in grey, black, red and white, has espresso stained hardwood floors underfoot that anchor the ethereal space. Two long walls of over-sized windows do not appear to have any window treatments whatsoever and wide expanses of crisp white walls work well for artwork display and/or movie projection. Vintage red glass decanters and a floating staircase, fashioned Donald Judd-like with a rhythmic (if precarious looking) procession of cantilevered treads, breaks up the otherwise linear room with a few feminine forms and one electrifying diagonal. That’s right, puppies, love it or hate it, we’re talking contemporary architecture that mimics modern art.
The pearwood and limestone galley kitchen isn’t very big by suburban mcmansion standards, but it’s absolutely well equipped with fully integrated Euro-style appliances, is plenty sizable enough to cook a proper meal and un-pack the moo goo gai pan, and bends unapologetically towards the architecturally (melo)dramatic with a soaring ceiling topped by a gigantic shed-roof sky light. The sky light pokes up through the planted roof terrace which may have allowed Monsieur Mugler to peer down from the roof terrace and make sure his willow wisp thin house boy (or whomever) salted his lunchtime greens (or whatever) in just the right manner.
Cozier quarters can be found in the moody and manly mahogany-paneled library with wood-burning fireplace, glass-enclosed display and book shelves, and humongous windows fitted with a intricately geometric grid of black shutters. Mister Mugler—and/or his nice-gay or lady decorator—balanced the electrifying coral red sofa with a pair of earthy milk chocolate leather arm chairs, gleaming waterfall glass coffee tables, and a few cow skins tossed out on the rich wood floors.
Each of the two, 28-foot long master bedrooms has substantial closet space and plenty of room to maneuver. One bedroom offers a custom-fitted dressing room (with window) and a hotel-type bathroom with glass-enclosed, party-sized shower while the other claims an uncomfortably compact crapper, a 17-plus foot long separate office space with three windows on two walls and—conveniently—a separate entrance to the building’s public hall, a set up perfect for secreting late night trysts in and out without having to reveal the true magnitude of the penthouse and, hence, the real depth of one’s bank accounts.
The vulnerable-looking but no doubt powerfully engineered cantilevered stairs, which Your Mama could and would never attempt to negotiate without a nerve pill and at least two good sized gin & tonics, ascends with high impact minimalist style into a glass-roofed and glass-walled green house and adjoining conservatory/sitting room space that spills out through multiple steel-framed glass doors to an 800 square foot fully planted terrace made totally private with high hedges and tall fences.
The bi-level terrace features a trellised dining area, built-in barbecue area and, it may surprise some to learn, a hot tub. A properly private hot tub on the roof in the middle of Manhattan does offer intriguing and lascivious possibilities, to be sure, but what neither the terrace nor the greenhouse/conservatory do have, alas, is a facility. That means Your Mama, Monsieur Mugler and any one else up on the roof with an bulging bladder will have to make a Sophie’s Choice, to navigate the theatrical staircase down to the penthouse’s privately situated powder room off the entry vestibule or to more simply but far less privately scootch behind the pine tree for a quick whiz.
It should surprise no one that Your Mama doesn’t run in the same gym-toned high fashion circles as Monsieur Mugler so we haven’t any idea why he’s opted to sell his Chelsea penthouse aerie. It could be the significant potential profit or maybe he’s just decided it’s much simpler (and so much less headache) to dump the high maintenance penthouse and book himself into a swank suite of rooms at any of the many high-priced boo-teek hotels that have popped up at an alarming rate all over downtown New York in the last 5 or 10 years.
listing photos and floor plan: Sotheby’s International Realty