SELLER: Daphne Guinness
LOCATION: New York City, NY
SIZE: 4,118 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Settle down children, we are well aware we are well beyond fashionably late to this particular real estate party. Howevuh, Your Mama can’t resist us a nervy, couture-clad iconoclast heiress like Daphne Guinness, a deliciously outlandish woman who stands out like a peacock in pig sty amongst the more staid upper echelons of international high society in which she orbits and who pushed her chi-chi half-floor spread on New York City’s Fifth Avenue on the market in early January (2012) with a jet-setting $15,000,000 asking price. Miz Guinness subsequently and quickly dropped the price for her high floor residence at the hoity-toity Stanhope to $14,000,000.
The listing may not surprise glossy shelter publication readers who surely recall Miz Guinness had her New York nest photographed in all it’s colorful glory for the March 2011 issue of Architectural Digest.
The famously skunk-haired and gorgeous globe-trotter was born into great privilege as an heiress to the eponymous beer fortune and grew up in grand homes in England, Ireland and Spain. As a teenager—she was nineteen—she married wildly rich Greek shipping heir Spyros Niarchos with whom she has three all but grown children and as of a year ago, as confirmed by her fashion reporter friend Derek Blasberg in a February 2011 interview in Harper’s Bazaar, the adventuresome sartorialist was the lover of (very married) French philosopher Bernard Henri Lévy.
Anyhoodles poodles, her complicated sounding romantic life aside, property records show Miz Guinness acquired her Manhattan digs in late April 2008 for $11,459,000. Current listing information shows the common charges, which in this case include the taxes, run Miz Guinness $17,950 per month, an amount the well-worn beads on Your Mama’s bejeweled abacus calculate total a downright intimidating $215,400 per year. At the same time she bought the half-floor apartment she also picked up a small ground floor apartment—possibly a guest room, art studio or staff suite—that comes with $1,677.28 monthly fees and that she also has on the market with a $1,500,000 asking price.
The Stanhope, a stately if somber limestone and brick edifice designed by preeminent New York architect Rosario Candela in 1926 stands directly across from the southern flank of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The building was converted to 26 (or so) luxury residences in the early- to mid-Aughts and offers its well-heeled residents white glove services (doormen, porters, valet parkers, etc.), a private library/conference room, access to the on-site (and very posh) La Palestra spa and fitness center, 24-7 concierge services accessible through a touch panel/video intercom, and wine storage space (plus sommelier recommendations and free delivery) at Acker, Merrill and Condit, a swank wine shop on the Upper West Side.
The floor plan included with current listing information (above) and on a still active website specifically designed to market the building’s apartments shows the 7-room residence measures a spacious but hardly gargantuan 4,118 square feet and includes a shared elevator landing that opens to an entrance gallery with discreetly located powder pooper and a near thirty foot long formal living room blessed with direct Central Park views and a wood-burning fireplace. The formal dining room connects to an eat-in center island kitchen through a butler’s pantry with walk-in wine closet and the small-ish three guest/family bedrooms each open off a 35-foot long, fully-mirrored corridor and include a private (windowless) bathroom.
The master suite, at the tail end of the corridor at the extreme rear of the residence, has an entry vestibule that promotes elegance and privacy, an almost square 350-plus square foot bedroom, and an infamous (and windowless) bathroom outfitted with double sinks, separate soaking tub and shower, and a completely enclosed (and hopefully well ventilated) cubby for the terlit and bee-day. The floor plan for the apartment shows the master suite was designed with two walk-in closets plus a separate linen closet. It would not surprise Your Mama in the least to learn that fashion obsessed Miss Thing converted the linen closet to a shoe closet and took over an adjacent bedroom and bathroom as a dressing room and additional closet space.
The aforementioned Architectural Digest article reveals Miz Guinness chose the apartment because of its high floor location and the natural light brought in from north- and west-facing windows. “North for drawing, west for sunsets,” she elucidated. On the recommendation of the building’s manager she met with and immediately hired smart and prodigiously talented Philippines-born architect Daniel Romualdez whose client list contains high brow, fortuitously born and accomplished women like Tory Burch, Marina Rust, and Aerin Lauder as well as maturing morning chat show hunk Matt Lauer and James de Givenchy, the gemstone loving jeweler nephew of venerated fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy.
Mister Romualdez was brought in to work over and neutralize some of the apartments stuffier interior elements and add in, as she esoterically spelled out in A.D., “…the shine of Metropolis, the modernity that should have happened, with the lush flora of Suddenly, Last Summer. But I didn’t want it to tip into English decadence. It had to be contained, controlled—intelligent decadence. What I wanted was sort of a savage modernism.”
This rejection of “English decadence” and re-injection of “modernity” and “intelligent decadence” to achieve “savage modernism” manifested in shimmering, explosive and decoratively dilettantish rooms hung thick with name brand contemporary artworks. High gloss ebony floors in the entry reflect a kaleidoscopic butterfly painting by Damien Hirst and extend down an improbably lengthy, fun house-like mirrored corridor where the cherry red color of the rugs was matched to the exact same shade of polish Miz Guinness has custom mixed for her nails.
The glossy, coal black floors continue into the capacious park facing corner living room where scads of orchids and other house plants in terra cotta and Chinese pots and urns somehow make unexpected nice-nice with a boxy, blood red velvet sofa, a trio of sculptural light objects on the floor, a pair of mirrored Deco cocktail tables, and a variety of saturated and sometimes surreal photographs by blue chip picture takers like Gregory Crewdson, David LaChapelle and Bert Stern.
The original floor plan for Miz Guinness’ apartment did not call for a library but it appears Miz Guinnes either re-purposed the dining room or re-fashioned one of the bedrooms to include floor to ceiling bookcases filled with shadow-boxed insects, actual books, and a wall-mounted flat screen tee-vee, although we can hardly imagine Miz Guinness doing anything as mundane as watching the boob-toob. Propped up in the corner, there’s a giant photograph of herself snapped by her avant-minded friend David LaChapelle.
At least one of the guest bedrooms makes a courageous (if expensively kitchy) statement with the unlikely (and not entirely holy) marriage between some unusual but de rigueur Chinoiserie this and thats, walls sheathed in shimmering, high-glam silver mylar, dainty white linens on the bed and a cherry red rug on the luminous black wood floors.
Miz Guinness made all the real estate gossip columns back in the fall of 2010 when her downstairs neighbor—hedge hog Karim Samii and wife Tina—complained and sued over water damage caused by the frequent over-flowing of the Miz Guinness’ bathtub in the master bedroom. The Samiis reportedly sued for over a million bucks for repairs and “mental anguish.” We’re not sure of the status of the lawsuit but Miz Guinness told the folks at Arch. Digest last year she was “mending” the matter and we’ll just let the children speculate if all the legal ugliness has anything to do (or not) with her decision to sell so soon after settling in.
Miz Guinness reportedly maintains a flat in London. Probably she maintains or has access to homes in any number of other fabulous locales popular with the beau monde, places like St. Moritz, Mozambique and/or St. Barts. But to be honest, kittens, we don’t have any direct knowledge of such.