BUYERS: Mary-Kate Olsen and Olivier “Oliver” Sarkozy
SELLER: estate of David Deutsch
LOCATION: New York City, NY
SIZE: 6,971 square feet, 3+ bedrooms, 2 full and 3 half bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: The property gossip gal at The New York Post revealed over the weekend that engaged May-December duo Mary-Kate Olsen and her much older French-born banker fiancée Olivier Sarkozy—he’s the younger half-brother of France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy—snatched up an historic townhouse in “out-of-the-way Turtle Bay,” a tiny neighborhood wedged tightly between the ever-taller towers of Midtown and the highly secured United Nations complex along the East River.
The townhouse, part of the illustrious Turtle Bay Gardens enclave, was sold, according to online resources, in mid-April (2014) for $13.5 million after first hitting the open market the previous April with a $16.5 million price tag.
In the late 19-teens, blue-blooded American heiress Charlotte Martin, enamored of the private gardens she visited in London, Paris and Rome, purchased 20 back-to-back mid-block townhouses on the then and arguably still unfashionable East 48th and Eat 49th Streets. She thoroughly remodeled the houses, carved out a verdant, 12-foot wide shared garden promenade at the rear of the residences, and christened the micro-neighborhood Turtle Bay Gardens.
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Naturally, Miz Martin kept one of the larger townhouses for herself and sold the majority of the other to friends and associates. Later residents of Turtle Bay Gardens are said to include Showbusiness icon Katherine Hepburn (244 E. 49th Street), music industry legend Bob Dylan (242 E. 49th), musical theater royal Stephen Sondheim, and actor/playwright Garson Kanin and his Oscar-winning actress wife Ruth Gordon.
Miz Martin passed on to the other side in 1961 and before long the house was acquired by psychiatrist, philanthropist, art collector, and Standard Oil heir Dallas B. Pratt. (Mister Pratt, according to June 2013 report on the property in The Wall Street Journal, added the elevator and carved a one-car garage out of what was originally a much larger kitchen.) Mister Pratt willed the townhouse to the American Museum in Britain, which he founded, and the trustees of the museum eventually sold the house in 1997 for $2.45 million to now deceased ad agency founder turned abstract painter David Deutsch. (Mister Deutsch’s son is well-known advertising executive and outspoken television personality Donny Deutsch.)
Listing details and other resources available on the internets reveal the quirky and elaborately dressed townhouse extends a generous and rare 38 feet wide and stands five floors above ground with an additional basement level. Your Mama counted on the floor plan included with digital marketing materials three bedrooms (plus plenty of room for two, three or even four more) and two full and three half bathrooms. Listing details call out seven fireplaces and the aforementioned and much-coveted private single-car garage with direct entry to the house through the kitchen.
In addition to the garage and the long, narrow and dark seeming galley style kitchen, the ground floor includes a tiny entry vestibule between the front door and the elevator shaft, a roomy reception foyer with powder pooper and direct access to the kitchen, a bi-level dining/sitting room anchored on either end by fireplaces, and a garden/family room lined with arched windows that give way to a private garden space with fountain and entrance into the common garden promenade.
The second floor, or the piano nobile, offers a tight landing (with convenient if window-free second powder pooper), a discrete (and discreet) street-facing parlor for intimate tête-à-têtes, and a paneled, bookcase-lined library. French doors in the library open to an sizable roof terrace with an external staircase to the lower courtyard garden. A short and properly decadent hall of antique smoked mirrors links the second floor landing to an impressively capacious double-height drawing room/ballroom that’s at least 40 feet long with a 22-foot carved wood and hand stenciled ceiling. There are windows at both ends for proper cross ventilation, two fireplaces, built-in bookcases that reach up to the stenciled frieze, and a walk-in wet bar/pantry that will make booze hounds and snack lovers like Your Mama swoon with delight and envy.
Two bedrooms on the third floor share a roomy Jack ‘n’ Jill style bathroom with an unexpected curved wall and the fourth floor is given over entirely to a lofty, partly double-height open-concept atelier with sitting room and (convenient) third half bathroom. Should Mister Sarkozy and Miss Olsen choose they could easily divide up the space to accommodate two, three or even four additional bedrooms.
The master suite privately occupies the entire top floor but, it should be noted vis-à-vis the floor plan included with digital marketing materials, if one takes the elevator up to the top floor rather than the stairs one must less-than-ideally traipse through the dressing area and bathroom to get to the actual bedroom. French doors open from the bedroom to a stunning stone-columned loggia that looks into the tree-tops of the shared central garden. The main part of the master bathroom opens to an unusual, slope-roofed space with tiny tiles on some walls and the ceiling and an above ground exercise pool, not shown in listing photos but photographed for the June 2013 article in WSJ.
Back on the ground floor both the formal dining room and the garden/family room open to an enclosed garden courtyard with a minimalist-minded water feature that forces a taut frisson with the classical architecture of the townhouse.