Director and Upper East Side resident Wes Anderson is hard at work fixing up a semi-raw 5,700-square-foot loft in the East Village that he bought from the estate of Pop artist and downtown art-scene habitué Larry Rivers late last year.
Mr. Anderson paid $1.7 million for Rivers’ gargantuan condo. The apartment takes up the entire top floor of a six-story loft building on far East 14th Street. The building, which Mr. Rivers bought over 20 years ago, has been home to a gaggle of prominent New York artists. Mr. Rivers’ friend, Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, lived there until his death in 1997. The late pop sculptor Claes Oldenberg was also an owner, as is artist Fred Wilson.
“Larry bought the building and farmed it out to his friends,” said John Duyck, Rivers’ longtime assistant.
Mr. Anderson went into contract on the unit just before Mr. Rivers’ death last August, and according to Mr. Duyck, the tradeoff appealed to both as a way to keep the place a part of New York’s art scene.
“Larry liked the idea that it was going to someone creative,” he said. “And that somewhat enticed Wes, that the building has a good bloodline.”
Rivers’ downtown life reads almost like a treatment for a Wes Anderson biopic. A participant in some of New York’s most important literary and artistic scenes-from the New York School poets and the Abstract Expressionist painters, to the riotous Pop Art movement and the 80′s East Village art scene-Rivers had helped usher the late 20th-century Manhattan art scene into the 21st century. At the height of his influence, he portrayed the Beat Generation icon Neal Cassady in the legendary 1958 Beat film, Pull My Daisy .
Upon his death, The New York Times called Rivers “the irreverent proto-Pop painter and sculptor, jazz saxophonist, writer, poet, teacher and sometime actor and filmmaker, whose partly self-mocking bad-boy persona encapsulated the spirit of a restless era that shook up American art …. Mr. Rivers in his glory days was given to cowboy boots, tight pants, inside-out shirts, far-out ties (sometimes two at a time) and a black Cadillac and motorcycle.”
There were no walls between Mr. Rivers’ bedroom and bathroom-even the toilet was out in the open. He also crowned the headboard of his king-sized bed with a pair of plywood forms shaped like breasts and a penis and covered with leather.
Half of the apartment was used as an art studio, and the rest was living space-most of which was covered in wall-to-wall shag carpeting. Rivers had also built a bandstand where he and his fellow musicians jammed.
“It wasn’t fancy or high-end,” said the apartment’s listing agent, Joel Stanger of Halstead Property. “It was real funky.”
And while it was certainly home to Rivers, Mr. Stanger knew that the setup wouldn’t necessarily appeal to the widest of audiences. So by the time it hit the market in October 2001, the apartment had been gutted semi-raw. According to Mr. Duyck, the aging Rivers decided to sell because he found himself spending more and more time at his home in Southampton and no longer needed such a large space. He died on Aug. 14, 2002, at age 78, from cancer of the liver.
Mr. Anderson and his brokers, Adam Macagna and Ilene Silver, both of Halstead, all declined to comment on the purchase, but Mr. Stanger said the director was simply looking for a big, raw downtown space.
“I think it was the right atmosphere for him; it was a clean slate,” he said. “He could do whatever he wanted with it. Plus, the monthly payments of $1,100 are incredibly low.”
Mr. Anderson’s design exactitude was very much on display in his 2001 movie The Royal Tenenbaums , where he took over a Harlem townhouse and decorated it in minute detail to reflect the characters of the Tenenbaums that inhabited each room. Details on his plans for the loft weren’t as complete.
“He was going to expose the ceiling beams, and he was going to put down some new flooring,” Mr. Stanger said. “He’s also going to pop in some additional windows and try to add another bathroom somewhere.”
Mr. Anderson may also try to secure rights to the building’s roof-which were originally part of the deal, until real-estate lawyers discovered that Rivers had never owned them. That discovery forced Mr. Stanger to chop the apartment’s asking price down from $2.3 million to $1.8 million.
UPPER EAST SIDE
305 East 72nd Street
One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $375,000. Selling: $360,000.
Maintenance: $850; 56 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: three weeks.
LUKEWARM WELCOME When this building went co-op, everyone who bought a sponsor unit was given a guarantee that they could later sell their apartments without making their purchasers submit to a co-op board application process. The seller of this apartment thought she was one of those people, and she marketed her apartment as such-i.e., “no board approval necessary.” So when a buyer tendered an all-cash offer for the unit, both parties expected a smooth closing. Unfortunately, the apartment wasn’t a sponsor unit. A holding company had actually owned it first, a distinction that was lost on the seller. “The seller thought we were changing the rules on her,” said co-op board member Linda Bridges. “But since she didn’t buy the unit from a sponsor, she didn’t qualify for the no-board-approval sale.” This was quite disconcerting for the unsuspecting buyer, a single woman in her 60′s. “My client was furious and was ready to sue,” said her broker, Leslie Karkus of Charles H. Greenthal. “Of course, I understand that the co-op board wanted more information on a new buyer.” The board did end up approving the sale of the 700-square-foot apartment, and despite her animosity, the new owner is staying put.
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $1.9 million. Selling: $1.8 million.
Time on the market: 20 weeks.
CON ARTISTS Although most up-and-coming artists have long been priced out of Soho, many of the district’s buildings are zoned in such a way that only bona fide artists are allowed to move in. To skirt this Catch-22, the co-op boards of those buildings will go ahead and approve sales to non-artists, but they’ll also make the buyers sign waivers that absolve the board of any responsibility should zoning officials ever come knocking. Of course, it’s an open secret that those knocks rarely come. So over the years, the atmosphere of the entire neighborhood has become very wink-wink when it comes to paying lip service to the rules. “Almost every building in Soho does it,” said the listing agent for this deal, Guy Abernathey of the Corcoran Group. The apartment in question is on the 11th floor of the landmarked Singer Building, where the co-op board just last fall voted to begin offering waivers to non-artists. Their newest shareholder is a woman in her late 30′s who works for an Internet production company. Her new apartment is about 2,200 square feet, and her broker, Janis Aurichio of Citi Habitats, said the living room’s 50-foot-wide glass wall was the apartment’s main selling point. “You can see all the way into Brooklyn,” she said. “You usually don’t get that in a Soho loft.”
Hollywood Veteran Orchestrates $690,000 Duplex Co-op Deal
The man who was once New York’s most prolific and high-profile classical-music composer is returning to Manhattan after spending the last two decades as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after film orchestrators. The inexhaustible musician, Thomas Pasatieri, closed last week on a $690,000 duplex co-op on West 89th Street. He wants to re-establish his classical roots, and saw only one way to do it.
“California is wonderful,” Mr. Pasatieri said. “But if you want to write classical music in any big way, it has to be New York.”
Mr. Pasatieri’s living room, which he plans to anchor with a Steinway grand piano, will become ground zero for the third phase of his musical career. And if past output is any indication, it should be a fertile stretch. Before leaving New York for California in 1984 at the age of 38, the Juilliard-trained Mr. Pasatieri had written 17 operas, all of which have been performed in major music halls across the country. Then, as a Hollywood orchestrator, it was Mr. Pasatieri’s job to turn an already written musical theme into a full-blown orchestral symphony. Films that bear his signature include White Oleander , Magnolia , Erin Brockovich , American Beauty , Primary Colors , Little Women , Legends of the Fall , The Shawshank Redemption and The Little Mermaid .
Not that he’s turned his back on movies forever.
“My career in the film business is so secure that I don’t have to worry about getting films,” he said. “I can pick and choose-and do them when I choose.”
Mr. Pasatieri’s new apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a den and two wood-burning fireplaces, and takes up the first two floors of a townhouse at Riverside Drive and West 89th Street. It has three exposures and a private garden with a pond. Fittingly, Mr. Pasatieri’s broker on this deal is one of his former operatic stars. Joanna Simon, of the Fox Residential Group, sang the lead in the 1972 Seattle Opera production of Black Widow , a role that Mr. Pasatieri wrote specifically for her.
Brian Lewis, an associate broker at Halstead Properties, had the exclusive on the property.