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SELLER: France
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $48,000,000
SIZE: 7,000+ square feet, 4+ bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms (plus extensive staff quarters)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Thanks to a handful of the children it’s come to Your Mama’s floor plan loving attention that a suburban mansion-sized duplex at the impossibly tony 740 Park Avenue in New York City has popped up on the open market with a sky-high (but hardly unheard of) $48,000,000 asking price.

Your Mama’s research—largely via Michael Gross’s dishy and delicious real estate page turner 740 Park—indicates the 18-room B-line duplex on the 12th and 13th floors has been owned since 1978 by the French government to house their Permanent Representative to the United Nations, currently and since September 2009 lifetime diplomat Gérad Araud.

The French government purchased the palatial pad from Ann and Keith Barish, she a luncheon tossing socialite and he a financier, real estate developer, film producer (The Fugitive, Sophie’s Choice, 9.5 Weeks), and co-founder of the theme-eatery Planet Hollywood. The Barish’s bought the apartment in 1969 from (deceased) media mogul Gardner “Mike” Cowles and his nonagenarian art collector wife/widow Jan Cowles who picked it up in 1957 from the estate of the apartment’s original owner, department store heir and publisher Marshal Field III.

Current digital marketing materials don’t show the square footage of the apartment—Your Mama guesstimates based on floor plan measurements it’s somewhere just shy of 7,500—but do show the 18-room spread has 4-6 principle bedrooms (depending on use) and 5.5 bathroom plus 3-4 staff bedrooms that share a pair of bathrooms. We counted five fireplaces, 38 windows, and at least 20 closets—many of the walk-ins. Listing details do show the common charges ring up to a knee-buckling $24,088 per month or, tabulated another way, $289,056 annually.

It’s universally understood by property gossips and other interested parties that potential buyers of apartments at 740 Park Avenue must have four times the purchase price in liquid assets. That means for someone to financially qualify to acquire the residence of France’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations the buyer would need nearly $200,000,000 in cash assets that they can access immediately and at will.

A semi-private elevator landing—it’s shared with the A-line duplex that’s currently owned by the German government to house the Consul-General—opens directly into an undeniably stately yet utterly banal, beige marble floored gallery. The original, elegantly curved staircase is rather oddly paired with a molded plastic La Chaise lounger by Charles and Ray Eames and a gilded rococo console that looks like it could have come from Manny’s House of Eleganza Furnishings in Queens but probably once belonged to a French royal.

The colossal, sun-flooded corner living room—40 feet long and 21 feet wide—is actually, all by itself, significantly larger than the 600 square foot two bedroom Lower East Side tenement Your Mama lived before we married up and moved to a large duplex in Chelsea. Anyways, the wood floors are reddish and homey, the fireplace is mirrored—that’s right, mirrored—and we’re sort of in heavy decorative like with the unfussy, butter colored drapery.

At almost 600 square feet the scale of the formal dining room is practically royal even if the fireplace surround looks like it belongs in a sad, middlebrow hotel in Vladivostok. There are additional fireplaces in the library—where the butter yellow curtains are so much less successful than in the living room that they’re an abject decorative failure—and a cozy if dowdy study where the dizzying floral wreath patter on the wall covering was also employed, in an haute Old Fashioned style that is almost chic again, for the curtain fabric.

The lower level service/staff wing, tucked up into the dark, northwest rear of the apartment, encompasses a roomy (if probably not light flooded) eat-in kitchen, an adjoining pantry larger than most kitchens, additional pantry storage, and a cell-sized staff bedroom with neighboring bathroom. An all but hidden rear staircase ascends discreetly to the upper level off the staff/service wing where floor plans show a good-sized windowed laundry room, a second cell-sized staff bedroom and a double-wide staff bedroom, and hall-accessed bathroom.

Along with the two-floor service/staff wing there’s easy potential for six bedroom suites on the upper floor but the floor plan included with current marketing materials shows it’s currently configured with three guest/family bedroom suites—one of them a double suite with small adjoining office—and a massive master suite comprised of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, three walk in closets plus additional closets, one fireplace (in the corner bedroom), and a slender planting terrace that, honestly butter beans, looks a mite narrow to even safely step outside for a post-coital smoke (or whatever).

740 Park Avenue, an austere, limestone edifice designed by high society architect Rosario Candela and built at the onset of the Great Depression in 1930, has always attracted high wattage residents with enough money and social clout to pass muster with the powerful and persnickety co-op board that approves and rejects applications for purchase and residency. (So the scuttlebutt goes, Barbra Streisand, Joan Crawford, Neil Sedaka, and Barbara Walters’s applications for purchase were all resoundingly rejected.) Some of the building’s earliest residents include John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (and both of his wives) in a high-floor duplex later owned by Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg and now owned by private equity multi-billionaire Stephen Schwarzman; Campbells Soup heiress Elinor Dorrance Hill Ingersoll (and both her husbands) who lived in a duplex now owned and occupied by fashion designer Vera Wang; Standard Oil heiress Mildred Bedford Vanderbilt who lived in an apartment now owned by the German government; and John and Janet Lee Bouvier—that would be Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwell’s parents—in a mid-floor duplex now owned by hedge fund fat cat David Ganek.

Current residents/owners at 740 include industrialist and arch-conservative political activist David Koch; financier Howard Marks—he paid $52.52 million for education oriented philanthropist Courtney Sale Ross’s titanic high floor duplex in the spring of 2012; beauty industry tycoon Ronald Lauder, Greek shipping magnate Spyros Niarchos—he was once married to the dee-voonly boho-chic beer heiress Daphne Guinness; and financially embattled real estate investor Kent Swig and his now estranged wife Liz who hoisted their contemporary art filled 16-room low floor duplex on the open market in January (2014) for $32,500,000.

exterior photo: Nicholas Strini for Property Shark
listing photos and floor plan: Brown Harris Stevens and Sotheby’s Intternational Realty