SELLERS: Vincent and Teresa Viola
LOCATION: New York City, NY
SIZE: (approx.) 20,000 square feet, 4-7 bedrooms, 6 full and 3 half bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: As was first reported over the weekend by the fine folk at The New York Times, Brooklyn-born financier Vincent “Vinny” Viola and his wife, Teresa, have heaved their humongous, regally-minded, and liberally-gilded 40-foot wide townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on the open market with a very serious and publicity ensuring $114,077,000 asking price.*
We don’t know the full history of the house—maybe one of the children can enlighten us?—but listing details show it was built in 1884 and, at at some point, the double-wide townhouse was converted to medical office suites and much of the original ornamentation was stripped from the elegantly austere limestone facade, which is just about the only thing austere about the house. Indeed, as per The New York Times, Miz Viola, described by the New York Times as an interior designer, used to take her kids to the pediatrician in the building and that’s—so the story goes—how she found out it was for sale.
Miz and Mister Viola, a West Point graduate who currently owns his own high frequency trading and market making firm, acquired the urban mega-mansion in 2005 for $20,000,000 according to property records. They immediately embarked on a multi-year gut renovation and residential reconversion with the result being a money-is-no-object Versailles-ification of the now proudly palatial single family residence house. The children might find it amusing that for the first three years of the renovation the Viola’s shacked up—no doubt at great expense and one imagines like royalty—at the ritzy and aristocratic Waldorf Astoria.**
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Listing details describe the townhouse, just off Fifth Avenue on swanky East 69th Street, as “tastefully redone by the current owners.” Hmm. We’re not sure if tasteful is how Your Mama might describe the interiors of this house. Luridly lavish? Yes. Hilariously overwrought? Sure. Savagely opulent? Why not? Turgidly ornamented and giddily gaudy in its unrestrained grandiosity? Absolutely! But tasteful? There is no question in Your Mama’s un-trained and booze-soaked brain that the fittings and kittings that adorn this house were painstakingly sourced at unimaginable cost by Miz Viola and her team of architects and decorators but it really goes to show that good taste, like beauty, really is entirely subjective, isn’t it? Anyways…
Digital marketing materials show the fully rehabbed 19-room behemoth measures somewhere around 20,000 square feet on six livable floors with ceiling heights between 12 and 32 feet and radiant heated floors throughout. Your Mama gleaned from the official listings and floor plan (above) that there are at least four fireplaces; two laundry rooms—one is really just a laundry closet just outside the master suite; front and rear staircases; an onyx-sheathed elevator that services all six floors plus the roof terrace; and a high-tech home automation system that controls state-of-the-art heating, lighting and security systems.
Even though they surely have domestic help to take care of such mundane tasks, the sidewalk and front steps are heated for easy snow removal. A short stoop leads to glass and wrought iron front doors that open to a trio of spacious and immodestly finished vestibules that form a gold-trimmed enfilade. At the rear of the piano nobile a ballroom sized formal living room was expensively and extravagantly fitted by Miz Viola with intricately patterned inlaid walnut floors, a monumental Brazilian travertine fireplace mantel, and a coffered ceiling. A small, south-facing semi-circular balcony terrace provides just enough space for cocktail party guests to step out for a cigarette or liquor-fueled tete a tete.
The upper level of the cavernous, book shelf-lined double-height library opens off the middle of the of the three entry vestibules and has a ceiling mural painted by an Irish artist and a two-story stencil of a Rudyard Kipling poem hand-done by an artisan who’s also—lah-dee-dah—designed Christmas cards for the White House and the Vatican.
One may ascend to the upper level living spaces via the aforementioned onyx-lined elevator or the curved or the Italian granite central staircase that has a custom-milled mahogany balustrade. (There’s also a rear staircase in the service hall behind the main staircase.) At the rear, directly above the formal living room, a banquet hall-sized formal dining room was finished in a manner obviously directly influenced by Versailles.
On the street side of the third floor, a super-sized eat-in kitchen has brick and field stone walls, two work and service islands, and four mahogany-trimmed windows that overlook 69th Street. The kitchen itself has at least two of every major appliance (refrigerator, range, dishwasher) plus a separate coffee station and a pizza oven. If the children look at the listing photo of the kitchen closely, there appear to be three or four penguins skittering across the floor that was, according to The Old Grey Lady, fashioned from reclaimed railroad ties that were'”sliced like bologna.”‘ How kooky is that? In addition to the main kitchen, there are two additional and windowless kitchenettes, one off the formal living room and the other off the formal dining room.
Online listings show there are 7 bedrooms and six full and three half bathrooms but Your Mama counted just four bedrooms on the floor plan, including two 900-ish square foot guest/family bedrooms on the fourth floor, each with walk-in closets and a small private bathroom. (Each of these two bedrooms could be divided to make four smaller but still generous bedrooms with en suite facilities and good-sized walk-in closets.)
A third, smaller but still commodious guest/family bedroom shares the fifth floor with the 1,500-ish square foot master suite comprised of a spacious (if uncomfortably formal) sitting room and an adjoining bedroom that, besides the infernal exercise bike in the middle of the damn room, might easily suit a grand dame like Marie Antoinette or Catherine the Great. The master suite also includes and a pair of bathrooms—hers slathered in imported rose quartz—and two custom-fitted dressing rooms, each as large as a typical studio apartment in lower Manhattan. One of the dressing rooms, the one that faces 69th Street, is hard wired on a separate system so it can, if necessary, double as a panic room.
A pull-down staircase, inconveniently located in the walk-in closet of the fifth floor guest bedroom, leads up to a full floor mezzanine for storage and mechanical systems and both the secondary staircase and the onyx-lined elevator climb to the approximately 2,000 square foot, three-tiered roof deck with outdoor shower and oblique Central Park view.
The partially subterranean ground floor has a separate, under-the-stoop entrance hall flanked by mud and powder rooms. The hall opens into an obviously roomy but unfortunately windowless family room with hulking field stone fireplace. Also on this floor, as per the floor plan, is a small recording studio, the lower level of the library, and the upper balcony level of the double-height media room/home theater.
The basement contains the lower section of the sound-proofed home theater that was designed after a movie house in Queens of which Miz Viola has fond childhood memories and is finished with red velvet seats and red cherry paneling with inset flocked damask panels. There’s also a fitness room and adjoining game room with wet bar—an extremely convenient set up for those like Your Mama who don’t mind a mid work out pick me up cocktail, and a 32-foot long, heated saltwater swimming pool and an adjacent, blue lapis and glass tile-lined bathroom with both a steam room and a dry sauna.
Mister Viola, who already owns a substantial stake in the Brooklyn Nets professional basketball team, recently paid a quarter billion dollars to acquire the Florida Panthers, a professional ice hockey team based in unlikely locale of Sunrise, FL, about 35 miles north (and a wee bit west) of South Beach. So, according to the property gossips at The Old Gray Lady, Mister and Miz Viola plan to relocate to South Florida. Although it’s still more than 200 miles by car, perhaps Mister and Missus Viola will opt to—ahem—upgrade their living circumstances and acquire the (in)famous and still not finished 90,000 square foot Windermere, FL mansion of time share tycoon David Siegel and his bizarrely naive wife Jackie. Anyways…
We’re not sure exactly how many private homes besides their monstrous Manhattan mansion that Mister and Missus Viola currently maintain but we did find evidence that before they moved to the Waldorf Astoria sometime in 2005 or ’06, Mister and Missus Viola owned and occupied a 4,999 square foot, 1930s Colonial on .88 acres in leafy and affluent Chatham, NJ that property records show they bought in June 1994 for $1,177,000 and sold in June 2006 for $3.2 million.
Until February of this year (2103), when they sold it for $375,000, the couple maintained a small-ish, 32nd floor condo at the upscale Turnberry Place complex in Las Vegas, NV that they bought in December 2007 for $950,000. (Y’all read they right; They paid about 2.5 times what they sold it for.) Property records also suggest the couple plunked down $3,284,400 in June 2010 a 2 bedroom and 2.5 bathroom condo on the 45th floor of the posh Mandarin Oriental. Your Mama found clear evidence on the internets that the couple gutted the 2,755 square foot space that they had on the open market for several months earlier this year (2013) as raw space with an asking price of $3,450,000.
Your Mama’s quick and utterly unscientific research shows the couple also maintain an extensive portfolio of what would appear to be investment properties, including (but not limited to) land holdings in Delaware County, NY, and Van Alstyne, TX, as well as a rotating handful of properties on the West Coast, mostly but not exclusively in Malibu and Beverly Hills.
In June 2005 they laid out $3.4 million for a contemporary residence on Bowmont Drive in the Beverly Hills Post Office area (above) that they listed in October 2009 for $3.6 million and finally sold at a significant loss in March 2012 for $2.28 million and it looks to Your Mama like the Violas still own a small cottage on 1.76 acre ocean front acres next door to Roma Downey and Mark Burnett in the Paradise Cove area of Malibu and that they picked up in October 2006 for $11 million.
In May 2007 they shelled out $3.27 million for a multi-story residence (above) on Rambla Vista in Malibu that they sold (at a substantial loss) last December (2012) for $2.2 million and they also still appear to own a five-unit ocean-front apartment complex on Carbon Beach that they scooped up in September 2007 for $7 million and had on the (open) market as recently as October (2013) with an asking price of $8.9. million
*We don’t know or even pretend to have clue why the extra (and somewhat meager by comparison) $77,000 was tacked on to the $114 million listing price but there it is. Anyways…
**Your Mama assumes without any real evidence that the obviously pampered Violas shacked up in one of the apartments at The Towers, a collection of small and large apartments with five-star hotel services on the upper floors of the Waldorf Astoria with that are available for short and long term rental. To give the children some idea of what it might have cost Mister and Miz Viola to live at the Waldorf for three years, a 3,500 square foot three bedroom and three bathroom apartment on the 33rd floor is currently available at $75,000 per month and, when available, Cole Porter’s former digs, a 6,000 square foot six-bedroom sprawler, can be had for a head-spinning 140,000 (or so) clams per month.
listing photos and floor plan (New York City): Corcoran
listing photo (Beverly Hills Post Office): Coldwell Banker
listing photo (Malibu): Coldwell Banker