The Ralph Lauren model Filippa Hamilton has bought a duplex on the 10th and 11th floors of the Urban Glass House, the last residential commission of the late Philip Johnson.
But this newest buyer has more inviting cladding—which is why she’s been the face of Ralph Lauren since 2002. Johnson sold modernism to America; Ms. Hamilton sells ersatz “polo” shirts and eau de toilette. What a pair!
The new apartment comes with a round-the-clock concierge and a second-floor fitness center, making it a bit less exclusive than Johnson’s own 1949 Glass House in woodsy New Canaan, Conn., whence the Spring Street condominium took its name.
But back to the duplex: According to marketing materials, the bottom landing has a 356-square-foot “open plan living/entertaining space,” plus a kitchen with “high-tech” linoleum and herringbone French white oak floors. Ms. Hamilton is from France, too.
Upstairs are twin bedrooms and bathrooms, the latter with model-caliber flooring: Kota Blue limestone (heated, naturally), plus something called Gypsum Grigio Onigo floor tiles (“inherently warm”).
The deed lists the buyer—for $2.395 million, according to city records—as Kristana Filippa Palmstierna Hamilton, a wonderfully excessive name.
“Modern architecture was born in a rebellion against ornament and excess … ,” says the Urban Glass House design book. “Yet modernism has never stood in opposition to luxury.”
Chelsea Brain Trust? ‘With-It’ Anglophiles Redo Landmark Mansion on West 14th
The Andrew Norwood House, a landmarked rowhouse at 241 West 14th Street, has been sold to the 29-year-old developer Ben Shaoul for $8.25 million.
According to papers filed by Manhattan Community Board No. 4, there are plans to transform the house, between Seventh and Eighth avenues, “into an arts-oriented private club on the model of London clubs.”
Time to break out the Fair Isle sweaters and tweed jackets with elbow patches!
According to the deed, Mr. Shaoul bought the house through a limited-liability corporation called Burnt Island. A contract for the five-floor townhouse was signed in June, and the sale closed in November. According to those community-board letters, there was a society-like name picked out back in the summertime: Citizens Arts Club. Steve Ruggi, one of the two men leasing the house from Mr. Shaoul, confirmed the name but would say nothing else.
Mr. Ruggi and partner Alan Linn were named in an August Villager article, which omitted Mr. Shaoul’s name, and the seller’s, plus the purchase price. According to the piece, Messrs. Ruggi and Linn run a Citizens Arts Club in London, and their branch on 14th Street will have sitting rooms plus a “backyard dining area.”
According to an online letter written by Stanley Bulbach, whose constituents in the West 15th Street 200 Block Association share a backyard with the Norwood House, Mr. Ruggi and his partner diplomatically reached out to community groups. They described their plans for “an upscale private art and literature club for younger people.”
“Essentially, they see it as something of the Gramercy National Arts Club, but more up-to-date and with it,” said Edward Kirkland, the chair of Board 4’s landmarks task force. “But, of course, smaller, more intimate, more invited-membership of people interested in the arts.”
The five-story Greek Revival townhouse was built between 1845 and 1847, so the Citizens will have old-time amenities like 13 wood-burning marble fireplaces (spread throughout the 21 rooms), original pine and Cuban mahogany woodwork, and an oval oculus skylight over the stairs.
According to the floor plan, the rowhouse also has a 977-square-foot backyard with a mazelike garden. The late Raf Borello, reportedly the owner for 29 years, was a loyal caretaker indoors and out.
“I think it was his life’s work in some ways to restore it,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “It was like a living museum … you really could be transported back in time by entering that house.”
Light construction work has started there, according to Mr. Kirkland, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission said that a certificate of appropriateness was approved for the house’s plans, demanding only minor changes.
Late Video-Art Pioneer Sells Soho Loft
The artist Nam June Paik’s Grand Street studio has sold for $1,474,000, according to city records.
The L-shaped, 2,300-square-foot apartment was put on the market in November 2005, two months before Paik passed away at age 73.
“Oh, it was a mess,” said the artist Shigeko Kubota, his widow. “Nam June had a good time in the Grand Street studio—very productive. He made some nice pieces there, [spent] personal private time painting or playing piano, electric piano.”
Besides music, Paik was beloved for his experimentation with television sets: He distorted and scattered image and sound in a savvy pop kaleidoscope.
His Grand Street studio was “an antique junk shop,” according to Ms. Kubota. “He liked to collect antiques, or he bought crazy high-tech L.C.D. monitors …. He was like in a children’s amusement park. It was quite a mess. He liked it—he liked the junk room and the mess.”
He liked the neighborhood, too: Paik lived on Mercer and kept studios on Greene and Broome streets. “When we moved here, it wasn’t Soho,” his wife said. “We created Soho! Now Soho became so expensive we had to move out.”
Records for their Grand Street purchase aren’t available, but Stribling senior vice president Siim Hanja said that Paik, a longtime client, bought the fourth-floor place 15 years ago.
The place was a neo-Dada hostel: “Video engineers used to come from Korea or Tokyo and stay there and work with Nam June,” said Ms. Kubota, “because we needed assistants and couldn’t provide hotels. But this was a fancy apartment, you know.”
“There were a lot of TV’s set up on pedestals …. There were lots of—what do we call them? What were the things before DVD?” asked Mr. Hanja, trying to describe the place.
“Right,” laughed Mr. Hanja, “ … VHS players around that he would integrate with different things.”
The buyer, hotelier Jeffrey Dagowitz, probably won’t have any tape players. Yet Mr. Dagowitz “truly appreciated having a space that an artist of [Paik’s] stature had had,” said Mr. Hanja. “He even tried to have his estate participate in some of his hotel projects.”
Sadly, it hasn’t worked out yet.
Songstress Gets Chandeliers
It’s an artsy week for us!
Singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega has bought a seven-room apartment at 37 West 93rd Street, 19 blocks down from the Broadway restaurant that inspired her 1987 a cappella hit, “Tom’s Diner.” According to city records, the apartment cost $1.587 million.
Folk-pop singers don’t usually have maids, but the Corcoran listing says the co-op has a windowed chef’s kitchen and a maid’s room (plus a maid’s bathroom, of course).
Even more lavishly, photographs on the brokerage’s Web site show chandeliers in the formal dining room and living room and one of the three bedrooms, too. And there’s prewar wainscoting—which doesn’t quite gel with the old gal-with-guitar aesthetic.
Nevertheless, the apartment is an upgrade from Ms. Vega’s childhood home in Spanish Harlem. (She went to college nearby, at Barnard, but played coffeehouses in Greenwich Village.)
The deed lists her old address as a third-floor apartment at 845 West End Avenue, even closer to Tom’s Restaurant.
Ms. Vega, who married the lawyer and poet Paul Mills just under a year ago, didn’t return an e-mail, and her manager Michael Hausman said that Ms. Vega is in London finishing up her new album—which would be her first since 2001. But he said that his wife, Warburg associate Jennifer Wening Hausman, was Ms. Vega’s broker. Ms. Hausman would not comment for this story.
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